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Chinese tech firms go on 2020 lobbying spree; Turkey sees opportunities in US-China tensions; Swiss train maker hires lobbyist: Tuesday’s Daily Digest

Chinese tech firms go on 2020 lobbying spree with little to show for it

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Chinese technology companies have finally woken up to the threat from Washington.

It may be too late for many of them.

Foreign Lobby Report analysis of lobbying filings reveals that at least 15 Chinese technology companies spent almost $16 million in lobbying and public relations in the first three quarters of 2020

Six of those companies only started lobbying this year. Together those six have hired nine lobbying firms and three former members of Congress, while spending more than $1.1 million on influence operations so far this year.

Read the story here.


Africa

Angola: Angolan President Joao Lourenco used his virtual address before the US President’s Advisory Council on Business in Africa on Friday to tout his country’s economic reforms to attract US investment. Mass corruption under former President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, who stepped down in 2017 after 38 years in power, caused an exodus of financial institutions, with Deutsche Bank‘s departure in 2016 leaving the country without any banks able to handle US-denominated transactions. Lourenco said the Angolan Central Bank is working with the International Monetary Fund, the US Federal Reserve and the US Treasury Department to get a “positive assessment” in 2021 from the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force, an international standard-setter for anti-money laundering policies.

“The objective,” Lourenco said, “is to remove a significant obstacle on the road of direct investment from the United States, to allow the reestablishment of correspondent banking relationships, resumption of US dollar circulation and removal of restrictions on the repatriation of investment dividends.” The president added that the oil-rich country is also taking steps to join the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, which promotes the open and accountable management of oil, gas and mineral resources. as part of its efforts to “bring Angola in line with globally established good practices.” Lourenco’s remarks were distributed to US policymakers by Squire Patton Boggs, which has represented the country since 2018.

Nigeria (Biafra): The leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, which advocates for independence for Nigeria’s predominantly Christian southeastern region of Biafra, shared a statement with Congress’ Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission for last week’s hearing on Conflict and Killings in Nigeria’s Middle Belt. “While we appreciate the vocal support from the international community,” British-Nigerian activist Nnamdi Kanu said in a statement, “this brutal regime must be stopped through action, not just words.” The statement was distributed by Mercury Public Affairs, which has represented Kanu’s group since September 2019.

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Americas

Ecuador: Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer has registered attorney Kevin O’Neill, who chairs the firm’s legislative practice group, on its new $900,000 account with Ecuador’s Ministry of Production, Foreign Trade, Investments and Fisheries. Also on the account are former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Tom Shannon; former Senate Finance Committee International Trade Counsel Brian Bombassaro; and Raul Herrera, a former general counsel to the Inter-American Investment Corporation. The Glover Park Group is working as a subcontractor on the account.

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Asia

Japan: Washington Republican firm the CGCN Group received $41,000 from the Embassy of Japan in the six months through November to provide “updates for client use.” Partner Juliane Sullivan was terminated from the account on June 1.

Kyrgyzstan: Former Israeli military intelligence officer Ari Ben-Menashe told the Department of Justice that his Montreal-based Dickens & Madson Canada has started work on its contract with the office of new Kyrgyz President Sadyr Japarov after receiving its $1 million payment up front. The contract calls on Ben-Menashe to help arrange a meeting for Japarov with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and lobbying the governments of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to invest in the country’s “highway infrastructure” and the “development of its mines and oil fields,” with possible meetings for Japarov in Riyadh and Abu Dhabi. In the US, Dickens & Madson will lobby Congress and the executive branch including on “material assistance in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic consequences.” The firm may also provide media and public relations services.

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South Korea: The Korea SMEs and Startups Agency (KOSME) US office in Seattle received $646,000 from its South Korean parent for the six months through November. The office notably conducted market research for Korean companies seeking to expand in the US, notably on the “global e-commerce trend in the midst of COVID-19”; held business meetings with organizations In Washington state; and supported Korean agency delegations. KOSME President Hakdo Kim recently described the “new uncertain external environments” facing South Korea’s small and medium enterprises as including “the US-China trade dispute, Japanese export regulations, and the COVID-19.”

Uzbekistan: A self-described “freelance scientist” from Washington state has terminated his registration as a US agent for an Uzbek separatist leader in exile. Andrey Khomutov, a microbiologist originally from Ukraine, registered over the summer to help Amahbay Bazarbaevich Sagidullaev with his correspondence with US and international leaders. Now living in Norway, Sagidullaev is the leader of Alga Karakalpakstan, a party that seeks independence for northwest Uzbekistan’s theoretically autonomous Republic of the same name. The termination notice is dated Dec.15.

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Europe

Switzerland: The US affiliate of Swiss railway rolling stock manufacturer Stadler Rail has hired Cardinal Infrastructure to lobby on “federal policy and funding for train manufacturing.” The registration was effective Dec. 1. Lobbying for Stadler are Anja Graves and Bennett Resnik.

Middle East

Turkey: The Turkey-US Business Council (TAIK) is distributing a report it commissioned from the Boston Consulting Group showing that US-China tensions and supply chain shifts exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic could cause up to a $200 billion drop in US-China trade by 2023, with countries including Turkey well positioned to benefit. “This report confirms what many in the business world have suspected during 2020. Global supply chains are shifting and the nature of industry is changing,” TAIK Chairman Mehmet Ali Yacindag said in remarks distributed by TAIK lobby firm Mercury Public Affairs. “At TAIK we are determined to do everything we can to support and enable commercial deals between our member companies. Our US state committees and Turkish-based members believe this is the best way of promoting growth, supporting jobs and boosting trade.”

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