International Business Spring 2017 Issue

IB_Spring2017USCIB’s “International Business” Spring 2017 issue is now live! A web version can be accessed here.

The Spring 2017 issue features USCIB President and CEO Peter M. Robinson‘s column on “American Competitiveness and Innovation in the 21st Century” as well as articles on developments in the G20, WTO and the UN climate talks, plus news from our global network–Business at OECD, the International Organization of Employers and the International Chamber of Commerce.

“International Business,” USCIB’s quarterly journal, provides essential insight into major trade and investment topics, a high-level overview of USCIB policy advocacy and services, USCIB member news and updates from our global business network.

Subscribe to USCIB’s International Business Magazine

Subscriptions to “International Business” are available free upon request to representatives of USCIB member organizations. Contact us to subscribe.

Non-members may subscribe to “International Business” and other USCIB print publications at an annual rate of $50 (U.S.) for domestic delivery, or $75 for overseas delivery. Contact us to subscribe. USCIB’s annual report, studies from the United States Council Foundation and related publications are included with your paid subscription.

Our free electronic newsletter, “International Business Weekly,” provides regular updates on USCIB’s major activities and priorities. Click here to view a sample issue. Click here to subscribe.

We welcome outside submissions and inquiries regarding our publications – send them to news@uscib.org.

We welcome advertising in International Business magazine — special discounted rates for USCIB member organizations! Contact Kira Yevtukhova (kyevtukhova@uscib.org) for more information.

 

USCIB Washington Update – February and March 2017

During the months of February and March, 2017, USCIB Staff hosted a conference with BIAC/OECD on Digital Transformation, discussed Brexit with Alexander Lau of the UK government and Chris Southworth of ICC UK, arranged a member briefing with Doug Frantz, Deputy Secretary-General of the OECD, and Bernhard Welschke, Secretary General of Business at OECD (BIAC), presented at the OECD Investment Committee meetings in Paris,  participated in the ICC Trade Committee meetings in London, provided comments on NTIA’s Internet of Things Green Paper, addressed customs issues at the APEC SOM 1 meetings in Vietnam, shared member views at the OECD Meetings on VAT in Paris, and much more. Below are summaries of these and other highlights from the activities of USCIB in Washington, D.C. over the last two months. If you have any questions or comments, or want more information on a specific topic, please contact any of the staff members listed at the end of this brief.

Table of Contents:

  1. Trade and Investment – Opening Global Markets for Trade and Investment
  2. ICT Policy – Promoting Sound Policies for New Technologies
  3. Tax – Advancing Tax Policies that Promote U.S. Competitiveness
  4. Customs and Trade Facilitation – Reducing Barriers and Costs from Customs and Border Control Practices
  5. Membership
  6. Upcoming Events
  7. Staff List

Trade and Investment – Opening Global Markets for Trade and Investment

  • UK Government Briefs USCIB Trade and Investment Committee on Brexit: On March 7, 2017, at the Citigroup offices in Washington, D.C., the USCIB Trade and Investment Committee held a conference call with Chris Southworth, Secretary General of ICC UK, and Alexander Lau, Senior Policy Adviser (Trade) at the Trade and Partnerships Directorate in the UK Department for Exiting the European Union. Alexander Lau provided an overview of the current political and legislative situation for the UK withdrawal process from the EU and Chris Southworth commented on the state of the government and the Brexit process from a business perspective. The Committee also received a briefing from Carol Doran Klein, USCIB Vice President and International Tax Counsel, on the Border Adjustment Tax (BAT) that has been proposed in the House and how it compares to existing tax law. Other topics discussed at the meeting included reports out from the BIAC and ICC Trade and Investment Committee meetings, a discussion on a potential NAFTA renegotiation, and the USTR’s 2017 Trade Agenda.
  • Mulligan Represents USCIB at ICC Meeting with WTO and UK Government Speakers: On March 23, 2017 the ICC Trade and Investment Commission held a full day meeting in London on a wide range of global trade issues.  Ian Ascough, Deputy Director, Multilateral Trade, Department for International Trade, United Kingdom briefed members on how the Brexit process will impact UK trade work.  He stressed their desire for a free trade agreement with the EU, no border in Ireland, and to be champions of free trade globally. They will seek to secure a UK schedule in the WTO and build up their capability in the WTO.  Rob Mulligan, USCIB Senior Vice President, Policy and Government Affairs, raised the trade concerns of business in needing sufficient transition times coming out of Brexit to address any changes related to customs, values chains, and regulatory requirements. Bernard Kuiten, Head of External Relations, WTO briefed the Commission on planning for the WTO Ministerial which will be held in Argentina this December.  Some areas that could be addressed in the Ministerial if member countries agree would include fisheries subsidies, e-commerce, services facilitation, agriculture, and investment.  The Commission also agreed to a suggestion by Mulligan to prepare a short paper on key ICC trade policy principles.
  • Members Raise Issues with OECD’s Doug Frantz and BIAC’s Bernhard Welschke: On March 9, 2017, USCIB members met with Doug Frantz, Deputy Secretary-General of the OECD, and Bernhard Welschke, Secretary General of Business at OECD (BIAC) who described current priority work at the OECD. Members raised issues they had on work related to trade and investment, digital trade, the G20 process, U.S. funding for international organizations, state owned enterprises, and broader themes regarding the anti-globalization rhetoric on the rise. Members directly voiced both concerns and support for specific work streams and ongoing processes at BIAC and the OECD.
  • Donnelly Speaks for Business at State’s OECD Delegate Training: On February 14, 2017, USCIB Vice President for Investment and Financial Services Shaun Donnelly was a guest speaker at an all-day training session for experts around the U.S. government who represent the U.S. at various OECD Committees, expert groups, and conferences. The training, organized and hosted by the State Department’s Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs (“EB”) which coordinates overall U.S. participation in the OECD, focused on ensuring USG subject matter experts are also effective USG delegates, representing not their home agency but the overall U.S. government. Donnelly represented the official “stakeholders” in the OECD system, specifically Business at OECD (BIAC). He urged USG delegates to consult closely with BIAC representatives at and around OECD meetings in Paris and to work here at home with USCIB and our members as the sole USG affiliate of, and entry point into, the BIAC business network.
  • Speaking Up at the OECD for Strong Investment Protections: Shaun Donnelly led the BIAC team during the March 6-10, 2017, OECD Investment Committee meetings in Paris. As a lead speaker at the OECD’s Global Forum on Investment on March 6 and its Annual Meeting on Investment Agreements on March 7, as well as in the BIAC Investment Committee delegation’s formal and informal meetings with the OECD committee and key delegations, Shaun delivered our key messages on the importance of strong investment agreements to provide predictable security assurances for foreign direct investments around the world. Strong International Investment Agreements (IIAs) need to include broad coverage and definitions, high-level core protections, strong enforcement provisions, and tightly drawn exceptions and carveouts. The tried-and-true Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) arbitration system generally works very well. Shaun was very clear about our deep skepticism over the EU’s radical new “investment court system” to replace ISDS. He also challenged advocates of new “multilateral investment frameworks” to explain how such multilateral bodies could reach the high-level protections and enforcement procedures in gold-standard Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs) like those of the U.S.
  • USCIB Leads Industry Meetings with USTR on Colombia OECD Accession: On February 16, 2017, Eva Hampl, Director, Investment, Trade and Financial Services, led a group of companies and associations in a meeting with Dawn Shackleford, Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for WTO and Multilateral Affairs, Zoe Sophos, Deputy Director for WTO and Multilateral Affairs at U.S. Trade Representative and Leslie O’Connor, Deputy Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Latin America to discuss the OECD Accession process for Colombia. Companies in certain sectors have been facing serious market access barriers in Colombia, which USCIB has been advocating must be dealt with before Colombia’s accession to the OECD can move forward. The group met again with Dawn Shackleford, Leslie O’Connor, and Joe Whitlock, USTR Senior Director for Innovation and Intellectual Property on March 23 for further discussions, given recent developments. USCIB also provided input into updated Business at OECD (BIAC) discussion papers on alcoholic beverages, pharmaceutical and health care issues, and scrapping incentives, which were finalized in March and submitted to the OECD for consideration.
  • USCIB Comments on the EU Investment Court: In March, USCIB submitted comments in response to the EU Consultation on their proposed Investment Court System. The comments reflect USCIB’s long-held and frequently articulated view that the EU’s proposal is an inadequate response to what is largely a political problem in the EU. USCIB calls on the EU to further elucidate why some of these changes are necessary in their view, and how those changes address the alleged problems they cite.

ICT Policy – Promoting Sound Policies for New Technologies

  • USCIB Urges U.S. Government to Avoid Prescriptive Regulation of the Internet of Things (IoT): On March 6, 2017, USCIB filed comments in response to the Federal Register notice requesting public comments on NTIA’s Internet of Things Green Paper. Echoing our 2016 submission, USCIB applauded the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s (NTIA) examination, “The Benefits, Challenges, and Potential Roles for the Government in Fostering the Advancement of the Internet of Things,” as timely and important. We expressed support for the themes of the so-called “green paper,” which included (1) continued private-sector leadership in the development of IoT, (2) government efforts to enable infrastructure availability and access; (3) removal of regulatory barriers, and (4) collaboration with the private sector to address potential IoT cybersecurity and privacy risks. However, we urged NTIA to avoid overly prescriptive regulation as well as duplicative or conflicting regulatory mandates for IoT.
  • USCIB Hosts Conference with BIAC/OECD on Digital Transformation: On March 8, 2017, the USCIB Foundation, the educational arm of USCIB, in partnership with Business at OECD (BIAC) and the OECD, organized a conference in Washington, DC on the digital transformation of the economy. “Fostering Digital Transformation: The OECD’s Role”, which was held at the Microsoft Innovation & Policy Center, explored how policy makers and the business community can work together to ensure that new technologies and digital applications can be utilized to realize a more prosperous, productive, inclusive, and socially beneficial world. David Redl, chief counsel for communications and technology at the Energy and Commerce Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives, kicked off the conference, underscoring the importance of fostering investment in U.S. networks, streamlining regulation, and improving online trust and security to bring the benefits of the Internet to every American. Other featured speakers included OECD Deputy Secretary General Douglas Frantz, and Andrew Wyckoff, director of the OECD Directorate for Science, Technology and Innovation, as well as USCIB member company experts from AT&T, Citi, Disney, Facebook, GE Digital, Google, IBM, Mastercard, Microsoft, and Verizon.
  • State/Commerce Officials Brief USCIB Members on the Multilateral ICT Agenda, Privacy Frameworks: At the ICT Policy Committee Meeting on March 9, 2017, Julie Zoller, Acting Coordinator for Communications and Information Policy, State Department, provided a comprehensive overview of the multilateral ICT agenda, noting key issues that will be addressed in the OECD, G20, and International Telecommunications Union (ITU). She encouraged continued engagement with USCIB in shaping the policy outcomes. In addition, Nasreen Djouini, International Trade Specialist at International Trade Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, offered an update on the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield framework and other EU privacy-related developments. Michael Rose, Policy Advisor, Office of Digital Services Industries, Commerce Department then debriefed members on the outcome of the February 22-25, 2017, meetings of the APEC Electronic Commerce Steering Group and Data Privacy Subgroup, noting that support for APEC’s Cross-Border Privacy Rules System has grown substantially. In the past six months, as many as five countries (Korea, China, Singapore, Australia and the Philippines) have demonstrated active interest in joining the CBPR system in the near-term, with Korea at the head of the queue, according to Rose.
  • USCIB Helps Further Business Priorities at ICANN 58: USCIB Vice President for ICT Barbara Wanner attended meetings of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) in Copenhagen, Denmark on March 11-16, 2017. USCIB member representatives from 21st Century Fox, Amazon, AT&T, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Verizon also participated. The meeting largely focused on domain name system (DNS) policy issues and inter-stakeholder consultations. Wanner participated in DNS meetings in her new capacity as the Business Constituency representative to the Commercial Stakeholder Group, enabling great input to policy discussions at the executive committee level on behalf of USCIB members.

Tax – Advancing Tax Policies that Promote U.S. Competitiveness

  • USCIB Represents Members at VAT/TAG Meeting: Carol Doran Klein, USCIB Vice President and International Tax Counsel, participated in the VAT/TAG in Paris. Two important topics that were discussed were the implementation of the VAT/GST guidelines and the role of platforms in collecting VAT/GST. The implementation of the guidelines is important, in part, because improving collection of VAT in the cross-border context was the only recommendation to come out of the BEPS work on the digital economy. To the extent that business argues that the proper tax to reflect the value of the market is a consumption tax, it is important that the VAT can be made to work across borders.
  • Carol Doran Klein Speaks at the Pacific Rim Tax Conference in Palo Alto: Carol addressed the Pacific Rim Tax Conference on the challenges and opportunities of the BEPS process. Carol focused on the need for consistent implementation of the BEPS outcomes and the importance of dispute resolution to that goal. The conference also provided an opportunity to interact with officials from many Pacific Rim governments including Australia, Canada, China and the U.S.

Customs and Trade Facilitation – Reducing Barriers and Costs from Customs and Border Control Practices

  • Giblin Represents USCIB at APEC SOM 1 in SCCP VWG and A2C2: February 20-24, 2017, Megan Giblin, USCIB Director for Customs and Trade Facilitation, attended APEC meetings in Vietnam in her Co-Chair role of the Subcommittee on Customs Procedures (SCCP) Virtual Working Group (VWG), where she briefed on the Industry Chemicals Project Status. SCCP participation provides visibility to USCIB members on key topics of discussion with the Customs representatives of the 21 APEC Economies.
  • USCIB Participates in Washington, D.C. COAC Meetings: On March 1, 2017, Megan Giblin represented USCIB and its members at the quarterly COAC meeting where, among other topics, formal COAC working group recommendations on the rulings process were approved and presented to Treasury, DHS, and CBP. Several of USCIB’s core issues and concerns were addressed in the recommendations.
  • USCIB Participates in Q4 COAC Meeting: Giblin also attended the World Customs Organization (WCO) 59th Harmonized System Committee (HSC) Session in late March along with Ken Montgomery of CompTIA, who served as the lead ICC delegate for this Session. On the agenda for the 59th Session were important USCIB member issues, including EHTP (Electrically Heated Tobacco Product), Crab Flavor, Petroleum Preparations, and technology matters issues like 3D printers and Selfie Sticks.

Membership

  • Membership Meetings: The Washington, D.C. membership department and policy staff met with representatives from member companies IBM, 3M, McDonald’s, UTC, Chevron, Cisco, Marriott, S&P Global and Visa to develop our understanding of their policy priorities for the next year and beyond, and to see how USCIB can better serve their policy needs.
  • New Members: USCIB has recently welcomed Mars as a new member.

Upcoming Events:

Meetings of the UN’s Committee of Tax Experts, New York – April 3-7

ICC Commission on Taxation Meeting, New York – April 7

ICC Digital Economy Commission (ICC-DEC) Meeting, New Delhi, India – April 4-5

B20 Task Force on Digitalization & G20 ICT Ministerial, Dusseldorf, Germany – April 5-7

BIAC and OECD Trade Committees, Paris, France – April 25-27

B20 Summit, Berlin, Germany – May 2-3

OECD Committee on Digital Economy and Its Working Parties, Paris, France – May 15-19

USCIB/OECD/BIAC 2017 International Tax Conference, Washington, D.C. – June 5-6

USCIB Trade and Investment Committee Meeting, Washington, D.C. – June 14

World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) Forum, Geneva, Switzerland – June 12-16

ICANN 59, Johannesburg, South Africa – June 26-29

 


USCIB Policy and Program Staff

Rob Mulligan
Senior Vice President, Policy and Government Affairs
202-682-7375 or rmulligan@uscib.org

Erin Breitenbucher
Senior Policy and Program Associate and Office Manager, Washington
202-682-7465 or ebreitenbucher@uscib.org

Elizabeth Kim
Policy and Program Assistant, New York
212-703-5095 or ekim@uscib.org

Shaun Donnelly
Vice President, Investment and Financial Services
202-682-1221 or sdonnelly@uscib.org

Carol Doran Klein
Vice President and International Tax Counsel
202-682-7376 or cdklein@uscib.org

Megan Giblin
Director, Customs and Trade Facilitation
202-371-9235 or mgiblin@uscib.org

Mia Lauter
Policy and Program Assistant, New York
212-703-5082 or mlauter@uscib.org

Ronnie Goldberg
Senior Counsel
212-703-5057 or rgoldberg@uscib.org

Mike Michener
Vice President, Product Policy and Innovation &
202-617-3159 or mmichener

Eva Hampl
Director, Investment, Trade and Financial Services
202-682-0051 or ehampl@uscib.org

Chris Olsen
Policy and Program Assistant, Washington
202-617-3156 or colsen@uscib.org

Alison Hoiem
Senior Director, Member Services
202-682-1291 or ahoiem@uscib.org

Barbara Wanner
Vice President, ICT Policy
202-617-3155 or bwanner@uscib.org

Jonathan Huneke
Vice President, Communications and Public Affairs
212-703-5043 or jhuneke@uscib.org

Kira Yevtukhova
Communications Manager
202-617-3160 or kyevtukhova@uscib.org

Norine Kennedy
Vice President, Strategic International Engagement, Energy and Environment
212-703-5052 or nkennedy@uscib.org

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Giblin Represents Business at World Customs Organization Meetings in Brussels

Brussels

USCIB’s expert on customs Megan Giblin joined CompTIA’s Ken Montgomery as an authorized delegate of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) to the World Customs Organization’s (WCO) 59th Harmonized System Committee (HSC) in Brussels, Belgium from March 15 to 24. Montgomery served as ICC head of delegation at this meeting.

Per the WCO, some key HSC deliverables included settling classification questions and disputes, revising Explanatory Notes and classification opinions, securing speedy and uniform implementation of classification decisions and drafting recommendations.

The Committee took up a number of topics including the implementation of the HS2017, re-examined the classification of several products, took global classification decisions on many other products and held preliminary discussions on yet others. Classification decisions taken at this meeting are subject to a two-month reservation period under which any administration can request that the decision essentially be placed on hold and re-examined at a future HSC session. Decisions where no reservations have been filed, become final at the conclusion of the stipulated timeframe.

A key topic of discussion for both governments and industry relates to the current version of the HS Nomenclature. The WCO owns the HS Nomenclature, the language of international trade. Today, nearly 210 countries, territories or customs unions use the HS as the basis of their domestic customs tariff.

“The HS is important. It is not only used for customs classification, but it is used as the basis of market access negotiations for free trade agreements, flagging other government agency requirements, and more. Companies of all sizes depend on timely completion of domestic processes and full implementation of the current version of the HS to ensure necessary predictability for their products,” said Giblin.

While the HS2017 entered force January 1, 2017, there are still several countries that have yet to complete domestic legislative approvals or processes necessary for implementation.

Giblin will serve as ICC head of delegation at the fall HSC meeting.

 

Mulligan Attends London ICC Meeting on Brexit, WTO

London USCIB’s Senior Vice President for Policy and Government Affairs, Rob Mulligan, represented USCIB at International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) meetings with the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the British government on March 23 in London. The meeting was organized by ICC’s Trade and Investment Commission and focused on a wide range of global trade issues.  Ian Ascough, deputy director, multilateral trade, Department for International Trade, United Kingdom briefed ICC members on how the Brexit process will impact UK trade work.  He stressed their desire for a free trade agreement with the EU, no border in Ireland, and to be champions of free trade globally.  Ascough also noted that they will seek to secure a UK schedule in the WTO and build up their capability in the WTO. In discussing the implications of Brexit, Mulligan also raised business concerns related to trade, noting that “companies need sufficient transition times coming out of Brexit to address any changes related to customs, value chains, and regulatory requirements.”

Bernard Kuiten, head of external relations, WTO briefed the Commission on planning for the WTO Ministerial which will be held in Argentina this December.  Some areas that could be addressed in the Ministerial if member countries agree would include fisheries subsidies, e-commerce, services facilitation, agriculture, and investment.  The Commission also agreed to a suggestion by Mulligan to prepare a short paper on key ICC trade policy principles.

Kazakhstan to Begin Accepting “Merchandise Passports”

Baiterek TowerNew York, N.Y., March 21, 2017 – Kazakhstan is set to become the 77th member country to accept ATA Carnets for the temporary, duty-free importation of various types of goods, beginning April 1, according to the United States Council for International Business (USCIB), which administers the ATA system in the United States.

Known as “merchandise passports,” ATA Carnets are international customs documents that allow for the temporary importation of various types of goods, duty-free and tax-free, for up to one year. In most ATA member countries and territories, including Kazakhstan after April 1, Carnets cover import of professional equipment, commercial samples and items for display at exhibitions and fairs. The worldwide ATA Carnet system is overseen by the World Customs Organization and the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), for which USCIB serves as the American national committee.

“The implementation of the ATA system demonstrates Kazakhstan’s commitment to promoting economic growth and trade facilitation,” stated USCIB President and CEO Peter M. Robinson. “Use of Carnets will make it easier for American and other foreign companies to do business with the country, while enabling Kazakhstan businesses easier access to the U.S. and global markets.”

The Republic of Kazakhstan is the ninth largest country in the world by area and is the world´s largest landlocked nation. ATA membership by the country – long regarded as a priority for other countries in the system – will significantly facilitate trade relations between Kazakhstan businesses and their foreign partners. The Chamber of International Commerce of Kazakhstan has been designated as the official guaranteeing organization for ATA Carnets in the country.

Prior to Kazakhstan, Brazil and Indonesia were the two most recent countries to join the global ATA Carnet system. More than 180,000 Carnets are issued every year worldwide, for goods with a total value of over US$21 billion. The United States is the third-largest user of ATA Carnets, following Germany and Switzerland. The Republic of Georgia is expected to join the ATA system in the near future.

Find out more about the services offered by USCIB to facilitate cross-border trade and investment at www.uscib.org.

Contact:
Jonathan Huneke, VP communications, USCIB
+1 212.703.5043 or jhuneke@uscib.org

About USCIB:

USCIB promotes open markets, competitiveness and innovation, sustainable development and corporate responsibility, supported by international engagement and regulatory coherence. Its members include U.S.-based global companies and professional services firms from every sector of our economy, with operations in every region of the world. With a unique global network encompassing leading international business organizations, including ICC, USCIB provides business views to policy makers and regulatory authorities worldwide, and works to facilitate international trade and investment.

USCIB Experts Quoted in Journal of Commerce Articles on Trade

container_shipUSCIB experts on trade and customs Rob Mulligan, senior vice president of policy and government affairs, and Megan Giblin, customs and trade facilitation director, were recently quoted in a Journal of Commerce article, “Trump administration unlikely to repudiate new WTO pact.” The article explores the state of bilateral and multinational trade agreements, such as the recent entry into force of the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) and the future of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

JOC Special Correspondent Alan M Field wrote that despite the current administration’s aversion to multilateral agreements, it isn’t likely to repudiate the TFA. Field also quoted Mulligan’s views on this matter, “I don’t think that the administration has said much directly related to this agreement, but in some ways, I would expect that the provisions of this agreement are consistent with some of the things they have been saying about trying to open up borders and improve opportunities for U.S. business.”

Giblin agreed, stating that “it is important to recognize some of [the TFA’s] core messages. The TFA is critical to doing business, critical for companies. You’re going to get more transparency and predictability. The time-consuming processes at the border are going to be streamlined. You’re going to see goods moving more rapidly across the border. It’s expected to increase exports significantly.”

The full JOC story is available here, log-in required.

Giblin was also quoted extensively in a separate JOC story, “New WTO accord to speed customs clearance, cut costs” that takes a deeper dive into the TFA’s entry into force. Giblin was quoted on several aspects of the TFA, including the TFA’s value in allowing companies to understand quickly what the rules are and be able to export with assurance, “If everybody is providing the same level of transparency and ability [needed] to appeal decisions, then everyone will know how to operate,” she said. “That will lead to increased exports of products. And that will likely give a boost to the US economy and result in more jobs.”

The JOC story on TFA also quotes International Chamber of Commerce Chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal.

 

USCIB Welcomes Entry Into Force of WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement

Harbor_tradeLandmark pact will reduce customs barriers and costs for U.S. exporters

New York, N.Y., February 22, 2017 – The United States Council for International Business (USCIB) applauded the entry into force today of the landmark World Trade Organization (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA), which will reduce the costs of trading across borders and lead to increased U.S. and foreign exports and jobs. The TFA, approved at the WTO’s 2014 ministerial in Bali, Indonesia, provides enforceable government commitments, which will reduce red tape at the borders, speed movement of goods internationally, reduce costs, increase exports and create jobs.

The WTO has 164 member countries, and its rules require two-thirds of its members to ratify and pass laws making necessary changes in their customs procedures in order for the TFA to go into effect. Today, Chad, Jordan, Oman and Rwanda  submitted their ratification notices to the WTO, achieving the two-thirds threshold.

USCIB Chairman Terry McGraw, chairman emeritus of S&P Global, stated: “It is so important to the American and global economy that these 100-plus countries have committed to streamlining their customs procedures to speed the movement of products and reduce their costs.  We commend WTO Director General Roberto Azevedo for his tireless efforts to make his happen.”

McGraw, who also serves as honorary chairman of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), the world business organization, and chaired the President’s Advisory Committee on Trade Negotiations, has been a staunch advocate for the TFA and for multilateral trade liberalization in general.

“The TFA will provide a shot in the arm to U.S. exports and to the multilateral trading system,” said USCIB President and CEO Peter M. Robinson. “Studies estimate that, when implemented, the TFA will cut the average cost of exporting by some 14 percent, delivering a net gain of $1 trillion in global annual GDP and spurring the creation of more than 20 million new jobs for the global economy. What’s more, the TFA demonstrates the continued importance of the WTO and of multilateral efforts to liberalize cross-border trade and investment.”

In addition to promoting the benefits of the TFA, USCIB has worked to secure overseas ratification of the agreement through bilateral meetings with numerous governments. It has also done so via its role as U.S. affiliate of ICC, which mounted a global campaign to secure ratification of the TFA.

ICC Chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal said: “The entry into force of the TFA is a watershed moment for global trade. The reality today is that many small businesses find themselves unable to trade internationally due to complex customs requirements. By cutting unnecessary red tape at borders, the TFA will have a transformational effect on the ability of entrepreneurs in developing countries to access global markets.”

About USCIB:
USCIB promotes open markets, competitiveness and innovation, sustainable development and corporate responsibility, supported by international engagement and regulatory coherence. Its members include U.S.-based global companies and professional services firms from every sector of our economy, with operations in every region of the world. With a unique global network encompassing leading international business organizations, including ICC, USCIB provides business views to policy makers and regulatory authorities worldwide, and works to facilitate international trade and investment.

Contact:
Jonathan Huneke, USCIB
+1 212.703.5043, jhuneke@uscib.org

NAFTA Renegotiation an Opportunity to Modernize 20 Year-Old Agreement

North American Union, NAU concept on a gears, 3D renderingPresident Trump’s promise to rewrite the North American Free Trade Agreement is already rattling some companies and rippling across the Mexican economy. Growth in the country’s GDP is projected to slow to a crawl in 2017, according to the Wall Street Journal. Exports account for a third of the country’s economic activity, and some 80 percent of these go to the U.S.

Depending on how it is handled, renegotiating NAFTA could provide an opportunity to update the agreement, according to USCIB Senior Vice President Rob Mulligan. “There are aspects of NAFTA that could be improved, and provisions that could be added to address important economic changes over the last 20 years,” he observed. “But it would be critical to keep those provisions that have enabled U.S. companies to grow during that time as well.”

Mulligan said USCIB was canvassing several of its committees to see where NAFTA could be improved upon – and what “red lines” exist for companies in terms of rolling back or overturning certain key provisions in the landmark agreement.

NAFTA was the first U.S. trade agreement to include binding rules on labor and environmental protections – although these were included in a side agreement, and they have been incorporated into all U.S. trade agreements negotiated since. In addition, NAFTA included strong investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) provisions – a key factor in gaining American business support for the agreement in light of a legacy of expropriations in Mexico and elsewhere.

A $127 annual boost to the U.S. economy

Eva Hampl, USCIB’s director of trade, investment and financial services, reports that a well-attended program last week hosted by the Washington International Trade Association included presentations on priorities for NAFTA renegotiation from USCIB member companies and others in the business community. Ralph Carter (FedEx), emphasized that Mexico and Canada are the United States’ second- and third-largest trading partners, and he cited a Peterson Institute study indicating that NAFTA brings the US $127 billion per year in additional income.

Carter said that FedEx wants to help modernize cross-border trade. Consider, he said, that it takes an average of 17 hours and three different drivers for a single truck to cross the U.S.-Mexico border. Or that the “de minimis” threshold for expedited, duty-free entry of goods stands at $800 for the United States, but  only $50 for Mexico and $15 for Canada — creating barriers for “just-in-time” delivery of many components. A more seamless border, Carter emphasized, does not mean a less secure border – both can be achieved through smart reform efforts.

Looking northward, President Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau today agreed on the broad importance of U.S.-Canada commercial relations. “We recognize our profound shared economic interests, and will work tirelessly to provide growth and jobs for both countries,” the leaders said in a joint statement. “Canada is the most important foreign market for 35 U.S. states, and more than $2 billion in two-way trade flows across our shared border every day. Millions of American and Canadian middle-class jobs, including in the manufacturing sector, depend on our partnership. We affirm the importance of building on this existing strong foundation for trade and investment and further deepening our relationship, with the common goal of strengthening the middle class.”

USCIB Customs Chair Jerry Cook Featured in American Shipper

USCIB’s Customs and Trade Facilitation Committee Chair and Vice President of Government and Trade Relations with Hanesbrands Jerry Cook has recently been featured in American Shipper, publishing a commentary on trade in 2017. Cook writes, “despite predictions that trade will have a diminished future, the reality will likely be much more intense for those managing international supply chains and are responsible for their customs and export compliance.” Cook cites the expectation of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) entering into force as well as potential actions to reopen the North American Free Trade Agreement as forces that will promote growth in 2017.

Cook concludes with an optimistic tone writing that “it is an exciting time for the trade community. The standard is changing, and we can seize the opportunity to manage for success. We need to regain control of our future and work to build that future by upgrading the tools we use, as well as the norms by which we operate.”

Click here to read the rest of his commentary on the American Shipper website.