OECD Concludes Final Workshop on Illicit Trade in E-Commerce Series

The OECD Task Force on Countering Illicit Trade (TF-CIT) recently concluded the third and final workshop in their “Project on Illicit Trade in E-Commerce” series, focusing on the experiences of online platform operators in combatting counterfeiting. Business at OECD Anti-Illicit Trade Expert Group (AITEG) supported these workshops as part of the new public-private partnership with TF-CIT.

USCIB Anti-Illicit Trade Committee Chair David Luna, joined by, among others, USCIB members from Amazon, eBay and Walmart, used this workshop to express their concerns and ongoing approaches towards combating illicit trade, as well as, possible ways forward, including companies’ online platforms planning to make better use of Artificial Intelligence (AI), for example, with regards to improved authentication programs and a greater focus on addressing intellectual property fraud. USCIB members highlighted that to counter illicit trade more effectively, closer partnerships within the business community are essential and stressed that collaboration with public authorities, as well as business chambers and associations should be enhanced.

“As the Business at OECD AITEG Chair, I applaud our new partnership with the OECD Task Force on Countering Illicit Trade (TF-CIT),” said Luna, “and I commend our members for their commitment to work through public-private partnerships to help fight illicit trade across the digital world. Together through collective action, information-sharing, and best practices, we can proactively target today’s online nefarious actors and criminal networks involved in the trafficking in counterfeit and pirated goods.”

As this was the final workshop on illicit trade in e-commerce, the OECD TF-CIT has created a website dedicated to this project available here.

APEC Workshop Discusses COVID-19 Lessons for Customs and Trade Facilitation

In partnership with the New Zealand Customs Service, the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Sub-Committee on Customs Procedures (SCCP) held a virtual workshop as part of their recently endorsed project “Customs Response to COVID-19 Trade Recovery: Lessons Learnt and Future Opportunities.”

USCIB Director, Customs and Trade Facilitation Megan Giblin, joined by, among others, customs officials of APEC economies, as well as customs experts from the private sector and international organizations, used this workshop to examine and reflect upon trade facilitation issues during the COVID-19 pandemic including challenges, best practices and how to continue forward.

“I emphasized the work done to assist USCIB members and document the barriers they faced at international borders during COVID. I also highlighted our Customs and Trade Facilitation COVID Recommendations and core priorities in our 2021 APEC Policy Priorities Paper, which have been shared with economies and organizations,” said Giblin.  “Many of the hurdles faced during COVID could have been reduced or eliminated through robust and accelerated implementation of TFA commitments.”

Giblin also expressed the importance and helpfulness of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) communications approach with members of the trade community, from standing calls to consolidated websites, updates and intake portal to engaging directly on concerns in the COVID environment and encouraging other economies to adopt these practices, which should be seen as best practices. Additionally, Giblin applauded the approach taken by other U.S. government agencies in providing consolidated information and aiding in separating fact from rumor during this critical time.

She also continued to raise awareness on the recent WTO communication entitled, “Supporting the Timely and Efficient Release of Global Goods Through Accelerated Implementation of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement.”

“About half of the APEC economies have already become co-sponsors of the communication and USCIB encourages all others to become co-sponsors as well,” added Giblin.

USCIB Provides Input to OECD Task Force on Countering Illicit Trade

Through Business at OECD (BIAC), USCIB recently had an opportunity to contribute to an OECD Task Force on Countering Illicit Trade Plenary Meeting. During the Plenary, the Chair of BIAC’s Anti-Illicit Trade Expert Group and Chair of USCIB’s Customs and Trade Facilitation Committee, David Luna, highlighted the significant impact of illicit trade on the economy, businesses and people’s welfare. Luna also stressed the importance of collaboration among all stakeholders, including public and private, to counter the significant risks posed by illicit trade.

Luna used this platform to officially announce the launch of a new partnership program with the OECD, which seeks to strengthen public-private sector collaboration on tackling illicit trade. The partnership will commence with a special project focused on “the challenges of illicit trade for e-commerce” and will soon be followed by another project on “illicit trade in high-risk areas at the time of Covid-19.”

The partnership is also looking into launching two additional potential projects on Maritime Transports and Free Trade Zones.

USCIB Welcomes Senate’s Unanimous Confirmation Vote on USTR Tai

Photo: Bill O’Leary/The Washington Post/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Washington, D.C., March 18, 2021—The United States Council for International Business (USCIB) salutes the Senate for its unanimous vote on March 17 to confirm Katherine Tai as the next U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), believing she is a solid choice for this important cabinet-level position, bringing outstanding experience as an attorney-advisor and litigator at USTR, as Chief Trade Counsel for the House of Representatives Ways and Means Trade Subcommittee, and as an attorney in the private sector.

America’s economic growth, jobs and competitiveness, our future, depends to a considerable degree on how well we are able to engage and compete in today’s, and tomorrow’s, global economy. USTR Tai will lead America’s efforts on some very important trade and investment issues including our leadership in the World Trade Organization (WTO), updated and improved rules on digital trade, reducing foreign trade and investment barriers hurting American companies and workers, and effectively enforcing our existing network of trade agreements. Tai’s experience with Congress, as well as her expertise in trade law, the WTO and in Asia and China will serve her, and our country, very well in ​this crucial position.

“USCIB knows and respects Ms.Tai and has worked well with her in her important role at the Ways and Means Committee,” said USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson. “As an organization committed to open trade and investment flows, as well as high standards of corporate responsibility, all of us at USCIB and our member companies look forward to working with Ms.Tai to advance America’s economic interests and our shared values.”

Citi’s Senior Vice President and Managing Director of Global Government Affairs Rick Johnston, who also c​hairs the USCIB Trade and Investment Committee added, “Ms. Tai is the timely choice for this critical role as USTR at a very important an​d challenging time. Winning unanimous support from the Senate is a rare tribute to her abilities, her experience, and the respect she has earned from all quarters. The right leader at the right time for a very important job.”

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. As the U.S. affiliate of the International Chamber of Commerce, the International Organization of Employers and Business at OECD (BIAC), USCIB provides business views to policy makers and regulatory authorities worldwide and works to facilitate international trade and investment. More at www.uscib.org.

USCIB to Present Proposal at APEC on Fighting IP Crime, Illicit Trade

During this week’s virtual Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting of the Intellectual Property Rights Expert Group (IPEG) as part of the third Senior Officials Meeting (SOM) this year, USCIB will be presenting a proposal on October 7 on fighting intellectual property crime and illicit trade in counterfeit and pirated goods. This presentation will be given by USCIB Anti-Illicit Trade Committee (AITC) Chair David Luna of Luna Global Networks and Vice Chair Fernando Peña of DHL.

The proposal presented by Luna and Peña builds on previous groundwork in APEC on fighting illicit trade in various working groups, such as IPEG, the APEC Business Advisory Council, the Sub-Committee on Customs Procedures, and others, as well as scaling current efforts to strengthen international cooperation across economies, sectors and communities to fight illicit trade, including in established Free Trade Zones in the APEC region.

Luna and Pena will also discuss how COVID-19 further mutated criminality and IP infringement across online and e-commerce marketplaces, including through illicit trade, that is putting the health and safety of APEC citizens and communities at risk. Examples of products affected include medicines, personal protective equipment (PPE), medical supplies and fast-moving consumer goods such as food, hand-sanitizers and disinfectants.

“This has resulted in increased trade in illicit goods throughout APEC economies, which has sapped governments of vital tax revenues, inhibiting funding for pandemic response and economic recovery,” added USCIB Director for Customs and Trade Facilitation Megan Giblin. “We must continue to promote APEC’s leadership through public-private partnerships in APEC and across the Asia Pacific region and globally fight illicit trade.”

USCIB Members Play Active Role on OECD’s Illicit Trade During COVID Panel

The OECD Task Force on Countering Illicit Trade hosted a webinar on April 23—”Illicit Trade at the Time of Crisis.” In advance of the webinar, USCIB worked closely with Business at OECD (known as BIAC) and the OECD Secretariat on developing a robust panel dedicated to the BIAC Anti-Illicit Trade Expert Group (AITEG) and the good work of the AITEG and USCIB on illicit trade in the COVID-19 crisis environment.

“As the U.S. affiliate for Business at OECD, USCIB has been working closely with BIAC on anti-illicit trade matters since the establishment of our Anti-Illicit Trade Committee (AITC) in 2018,” said Director for Customs and Trade Facilitation Megan Giblin.

In addition to statements by BIAC’s Anti-Illicit Trade Expert Group chair and vice chair, the panel was rounded out by USCIB member representatives; Pfizer’s Senior Director David Shore, who leads the Europe, Middle East and Africa regional Global Security Team, as well as Amazon’s Senior Public Policy Manager Chris Oldknow, who discussed counterfeiting and intellectual property in Europe and gave poignant remarks on Pfizer and Amazon’s, respective, efforts on illicit trade in the COVID environment.

Prior to the webinar, BIAC published a statement, “Illicit Trade in Context of COVID-19 and Future Pandemics,” which was widely shared with webinar participants and built off earlier contributions of the work of the OECD Task Force.

USCIB’s AITC is chaired by David Luna of Luna Global Networks and vice-chaired by Fernando Pena of DHL. Luna also chairs the recently elevated BIAC AITEG, which is vice-chaired by Alvise Giustiniani of PMI.

USCIB Comments on Negotiating Objectives for a US-Kenya Trade Agreement

Following the Administration’s recent notice to Congress that it is going to enter into negotiations with the Republic of Kenya for a U.S.-Kenya trade agreement, USCIB submitted comments on April 28 to offer its input on negotiating objectives.

USCIB’s comments offered support for a negotiation of a comprehensive trade agreement with Kenya as part of a broader strategy to open international markets for U.S. companies and remove barriers and unfair trade practices in support of economic growth and job creation.

“We strongly believe that free trade with Kenya is overwhelmingly in the interests of both countries and their global trading partners, provided that the agreement is a high standard and comprehensive bilateral trade and investment agreement,” said USCIB Senior Director for Trade, Investment and Financial Services Eva Hampl.

According to USCIB, reaching an agreement with Kenya is important for the United States because this would be the first trade agreement with a Sub-Saharan African country.

“Beyond Kenya, the Administration should continue ambitions to initiate trade negotiations with other African partners,” added Hampl.

USCIB stressed that a successful trade agreement with Kenya should be negotiated as a single, comprehensive agreement which covers comprehensive market access and national treatment for goods, services, investment and government procurement, and also addresses key rules issues as well.

Beyond Kenya, a high standard U.S.-Kenya FTA could serve as a benchmark for the further negotiation and implementation of the broader African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA), parts of which entered into force in May 2019, and is viewed as a great step forward for African trade modernization.

USCIB Welcomes New Vice-Chair of Anti-Illicit Trade Committee

Fernando Peña

Director of Customs and Regulatory Affairs for DHL in the Americas Region Fernando Peña has been appointed vice-chair of USCIB’s Anti-Illicit Trade Committee (AITC).  Illicit trade is a major threat to the U.S. economy and profoundly harms American businesses and citizens.Today’s global illicit markets generate trillions of U.S. dollars every year for organized crime, corrupt facilitators and other bad actors.  Counterfeits, illegal goods and other contraband are sold on our main streets, social media, online marketplaces and the dark web. USCIB Is committed to fight illicit trade globally.

According to Megan Giblin, who leads USCIB’s work on customs, the AITC takes a comprehensive, multi-disciplinary approach to elevating the fight against illicit trade, particularly as it relates to the work of the OECD Task Force on Countering Illicit Trade, the Asia Pacific and Economic Cooperation (APEC), the World Customs Organization (WCO) and other international organizations.

Peña joins AITC chair, David M. Luna, president and CEO of Luna Global Networks & Convergence Strategies LLC, in providing leadership of the Committee and its critical work such as engagement of China and other Source Markets of Fakes, targeted Action on Illicit Trade including Counterfeit and Pirated Goods, AIT Enforcement at Free Trade Zones (FTZs), strengthening Information sharing across sectors and markets as well as addressing “small parcels” trade in contraband and illicit commodities.

“We are very excited that Fernando has accepted a role in leading USCIB’s efforts to elevate the fight against illicit trade” said USCIB Senior Vice President for Policy and Government Affairs Rob Mulligan. “Fernando will be a valuable asset to the AITC objectives and strategic planning.  His wealth of private and public sector experience, including working for U.S. Customs & Border Protection, knowledge of international organizations, focus on Americas region for DHL and his overall understanding of the small parcels environment will be an asset to the work of the Committee.”

“Business has a critical role in mobilizing collective action to counter illicit trade” said Luna. “DHL and other USCIB AITC members can partner with governments to effectively disrupt illicit economies and criminals’ exploitation of global supply chains and FTZs.”