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:
- Trade and Investment – Opening Global Markets for Trade and Investment
- ICT Policy – Promoting Sound Policies for New Technologies
- Tax – Advancing Tax Policies that Promote U.S. Competitiveness
- Customs and Trade Facilitation – Reducing Barriers and Costs from Customs and Border Control Practices
- Upcoming Events
- 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 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.
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
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
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