USCIB Congratulates Colombia on Formally Becoming OECD Member

Pictured from left: Iván Duque Márquez, President of the Republic of Colombia and Angel Gurría, Secretary-General of the OECD (Photo: OECD/Victor Tonelli)

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) announced that Colombia has formally become an OECD Member as of April 28, 2020. Colombia is the 37th country to do so in the Organization’s near 60-year history.

According to the OECD, Colombia has now completed its domestic procedures for ratification of the OECD Convention and deposited its instrument of accession. This brings to a successful conclusion an accession process that began in 2013.

“Colombia is an important market for many companies, and we commend Colombia on successfully concluding this lengthy process and committing to the high standards of the OECD,” said USCIB Senior Director for Trade, Investment and Financial Services Eva Hampl. As the official voice representing U.S. business in this process, USCIB was actively involved in providing input into Colombia’s accession process via Business at OECD (BIAC), the official business voice at the OECD.

OECD Member countries formally invited Colombia to join the Organization in May 2018, following a five-year accession process during which it underwent in-depth reviews by twenty-three OECD Committees and introduced major reforms to align its legislation, policies and practices to OECD standards. These spanned the breadth of policy fields including labor issues, reform of the justice system, corporate governance of state-owned enterprises, anti-bribery, trade, and the establishment of a national policy on industrial chemicals and waste management.

G20 Trade Ministers Release Statement on COVID-19

The G20 Trade Ministers met virtually on March 30 amid the COVID-19 pandemic to discuss stepping up cooperation and coordination to protect human life and lay the foundations for a strong economic recovery and a sustainable, balanced and inclusive growth after the crisis. Following the meeting, the Trade Ministers posted a statement.

The statement emphasized: “As we fight the pandemic both individually and collectively and seek to mitigate its impacts on international trade and investment, we will continue to work together to deliver a free, fair, non-discriminatory, transparent, predictable and stable trade and investment environment, and to keep our markets open.”

USCIB Senior Vice President Rob Mulligan noted the significance of all G20 members being able to agree on this statement as a much-needed coordinated response to the crisis and is hopeful that governments will soon follow up with more specific action items they will implement to keep trade open and facilitate the flow of essential goods for dealing with the COVID-19 crisis.

In advance of the G20 Trade Ministers meeting, the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) sent a letter from its Secretary General John Denton, which included ten concrete actions that trade ministers can take now to speed up the health response for COVID-19 and minimize the economic damage.  It also included points on the need to maintain momentum on World Trade Organization (WTO) reform and e-commerce negotiations.

USCIB Releases 2020 Trade and Investment Policy Priorities

Each year the Trade and Investment Committee of the U.S. Council for International Business (USCIB) conducts an extensive consultation process among members in identifying priorities for the coming year. The 2020 USCIB Trade and Investment Agenda includes a list of key principles our members support for open trade and investment and an action plan for addressing our trade and investment policy priorities.

The action plan anticipates another busy year on trade and investment including:

  • pressing for final approval and implementation of USMCA,
  • seeking Administration action on phase 2 agreements with China and Japan,
  • supporting movement on trade negotiations with the EU and UK,
  • seeking continued progress on negotiations in the WTO on a digital trade agreement and
  • modernizing the WTO.

“The Agenda provides the framework for USCIB work to advance policies and negotiations that will open international markets for our member companies and strengthen the global rules-based trade and investment framework,” said USCIB Senior Vice President for Policy and Government Affairs Rob Mulligan. 

USCIB Welcomes New US Ambassador to UN in Geneva

L-R: Rob Mulligan, Peter Robinson, Andrew Bremberg, Shaun Donnelly

Newly-confirmed U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations offices in Geneva, Andrew Bremberg, visited USCIB’s Washington office on November 5 to share U.S. government priorities and to hear business perspectives and concerns before heading to Geneva to assume his post later this week. Throughout the discussion, Ambassador Bremberg emphasized that the U.S. government’s current priority, as well as his top personal priority, is to reform and improve international organizations.  

USCIB members from The Walt Disney Company, Facebook, ExxonMobil, Hanesbrands, PMI and Walmart, along with USCIB policy experts, emphasized the importance of supporting inclusive multilateralism such as that found in the World Trade Organization and International Labor Organization, and changing the persistent and counter-productive discriminatory treatment that the private sector encounters in some UN agencies.

USCIB’s Norine Kennedy, who helped lead the USCIB delegation to Geneva earlier this year, noted USCIB initiatives to help further inclusive multilateralism through USCIB’s All In Campaign. Several participants expressed appreciation for the support Ambassador Bremberg’s team at the U.S. Mission in Geneva has been providing to U.S. business.

“We see ourselves as global regulatory diplomats,” added USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson. “The challenges facing society today cannot be solved by governments without having business at the table.  We look forward to working with Ambassador Bremberg and his staff as he begins his important work with the WHO, the World Intellectual Property Organization, the International Labor Organization, the International Telecommunications Union and other UN agencies in Geneva.”

 

New OECD Deputy Secretary General Meets With USCIB

L-R: OECD Deputy Secretary General Ulrik Vestergaard Knudsen; Head of the OECD’s Washington office Will Davis

USCIB members and staff had the opportunity to meet with the new Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Deputy Secretary-General Ulrik Vestergaard Knudsen on November 5 at the USCIB Washington DC office. Knudsen’s diverse policy portfolio at the OECD includes science, technology and innovation, trade and agriculture, the OECD Center for Entrepreneurship, SMEs, as well as regions and cities.

The dialogue between Knudsen and USCIB members focused on areas of mutual interest such as taxation policy, including the pressing issue of digital taxation, as well as cross-border data flows, healthcare, trade and investment, digital trade, and the Going Digital Project. Knudsen also mentioned Artificial Intelligence (AI) as an increasingly important issue for the OECD and the establishment of the OECD AI Policy Observatory, which will help countries nurture and monitor the responsible development of trustworthy AI systems for the benefit of society.

L-R: Norine Kennedy (USCIB), Will Davis (OECD Washington), Ambassador Ulrik Vestergaard Knudsen (OECD), Peter Robinson (USCIB), Eva Hampl (USCIB), Rob Mulligan (USCIB)

USCIB members from Microsoft, IBM, General Electric, CropLife America, Walmart and others, benefited from the opportunity to hear directly from OECD leadership regarding the OECD’s priorities as well as an update on the OECD accession process. USCIB participants underlined the importance of maximizing access for business and other responsible stakeholders in all OECD committee meetings.

“We are grateful that DSG Knudsen took the time to meet with U.S. business,” said USCIB Senior Vice President for Policy and Government Relations Rob Mulligan. “USCIB staff and members always appreciate an opportunity to provide perspectives to the OECD staff and secretariat to help inform the OECD’s science-based policy recommendations.”

USCIB is the U.S. national committee of Business at OECD (BIAC).

Mulligan Represents Business at OECD Trade Meetings

USCIB Senior Vice President for Policy and Government Affairs Rob Mulligan

Rob Mulligan, USCIB senior vice president for policy and government affairs, was in Paris the week of October 21 attending OECD and Business at OECD (BIAC) trade committee meetings. Over the last few months, USCIB members have contributed to the development of BIAC’s trade priorities paper which was released last week. Mulligan, as a vice-chair of the BIAC trade committee, represented BIAC at the OECD Trade Committee Meeting and shared the eleven-priorities for consideration as the OECD develops their program of work for 2021-2022.

“During the OECD meeting, I highlighted the need for continued OECD work on market distorting subsidies and other government support for state-owned enterprises, digital trade and new work on trade and the environment that would underpin the need to balance climate change with ensuring open markets for trade,” said Mulligan.

The OECD Trade meeting also discussed ongoing G7, G20 and Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) activities, including outcomes of the G7 and G20 Summits, as well as expectations for the APEC Economic Leader’s meeting in November, which will be hosted by Chile.

USCIB Holds High-Level Meetings During WTO Public Forum

USCIB and several members were on the ground in Geneva the week of October 7 for the World Trade Organization (WTO) Public Forum. The Forum included a plethora of panels on critical issues of concern to business including digital trade, services, the moratorium in customs duties on electric transmissions (Moratorium), the ongoing e-commerce negotiations, and WTO reform, including issues surrounding the Appellate Body (AB).

In addition to participating in the active forum agenda, USCIB’s Senior Vice President Rob Mulligan and Senior Director Eva Hampl held side-meetings with WTO leadership, such as Deputy Director-General Alan Wolff, Director, Council and TNC Division Victor do Prado, Director, Information and External Relations Division Keith Rockwell and Counselor, Telecom, ICT & E-commerce, Trade in Services and Investment Division Lee Tuthill. Mulligan and Hampl also met with Ambassadors Dennis SheaStephen deBoer, and Junichi Ihara from the United States, Canada, and Japan, respectively. Finally, USCIB engaged with international business groups, including Confederation of British Industry (CBI), Ibec (Irish Business), Canadian Chamber of Commerce, ICC UK, and Confederation of Danish Industry (DI).

“Across the board, everybody is closely paying attention to the E-Commerce negotiations,” said Mulligan. “There is a general positive attitude regarding the negotiations, but also a recognition that the tough issues like data flows and localization policies are still to come. Accordingly, it is not likely that an agreement will be ready by the Ministerial Council meeting in June 2020 (MC12).”

According to Mulligan, on the issue of the Moratorium, there continue to be opponents to extending the agreement, but most WTO members support at a minimum extending it to MC12 once it runs out in December of this year. To push back against the opposing forces, several studies are being developed. Among these, the OECD is also developing a paper on the Moratorium, which is likely to be released very soon.

WTO reform domin ated the discussion, often targeted at the U.S. pushing for meaningful updates on issues like subsidies, transparency, and notifications. The U.S. position on the Appellate Body, however, continues to be controversial and there is some nervousness about what will happen to the dispute resolution arm of the WTO once the terms of two of the three remaining AB members run out at the end of the year. On the other hand, there are some who believe pragmatism will take over and the value of the institution and the important work being done on the other reforms will not be impacted.

USCIB also co-hosted a breakfast with the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC). Speakers at the breakfast included The Right Honorable Liz Truss MP, secretary of state for International Trade in the UK, who spoke on the importance of the multilateral trading system; Ambassador Sunanta Kangvalkulkij from Thailand, who provided an update in the General Council discussions; Ambassador David Walker from New Zealand, who provided an update on the AB, and Ambassador Frances Lisson from Australia, who spoke about the JSI on E-Commerce; and WTO Director General Roberto Azevedo, who spoke to the current state of play of WTO Reform.

To wrap up the busy week in Geneva, USCIB co-hosted a business reception with several other business associations, to underline the importance of a business relationship with the WTO. Invitees include member companies and associations, country delegates, and WTO staff.

USCIB Washington Update: May – June, 2019

During the months of May and June 2019, USCIB Staff met with Angela Ellard, House Ways & Means Minority Chief Trade Counsel, Christa Brzozwski, DHS, Nick Gardner, US Dairy Export Council, and Martin Kreienbaum, German Federal Ministry of Finance, issued recommendations on the WTO e-Commerce negotiations, hosted the 14th Annual OECD International Tax Conference, and much more. Below are summaries of these and other highlights from the activities of USCIB in Washington, D.C. over the last three 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
  1. ICT Policy – Promoting Sound Policies for New Technologies
  1. Tax – Advancing Tax Policies that Promote U.S. Competitiveness
  1. Customs and Trade Facilitation – Reducing Barriers and Costs from Customs and Border Control Practices
  1. Anti-Illicit Trade – Promoting Strong International AIT Leadership and Advocating a Comprehensive and Multi-Disciplinary Approach to AIT
  1. Food and Agriculture – Promoting an Open and Efficient Global Food System by Providing Industry Expertise
  1. China – Supporting Policies and Relationships that Enhance U.S.-China Business

  1. Competition – Creating Global Legal Practices for an Open and Competitive Business Environment
  1. Membership
  2. Upcoming Events
  3. Staff List

 Trade and Investment – Opening Global Markets for Trade and Investment 

Angela Ellard, House Ways & Means, Briefs USCIB Trade Committee: At the June 20 meeting of the USCIB Trade and Investment Committee members received a briefing from Angela Ellard, Minority Chief Trade Counsel, House Ways & Means Committee. She shared her immediate impressions of Ambassador Lighthizer’s hearing the day prior, indicated that USMCA is a top priority and responded to questions on a range of other trade issues. This was followed by a briefing from Nick Ashton Hart of the Digital Trade Network, who called into the meeting directly after the conclusion of the WTO E-Commerce negotiations in Geneva. The most recent round of negotiations took place from June 18-20. Nick was able to provide an in depth, off-the-record briefing on the negotiations as the only business representative present in the room for the negotiations.

USCIB Statement on WTO e-Commerce Negotiations: In early June, USCIB issued Recommendations on the WTO e-Commerce negotiations, reflecting member priorities and goals for the negotiations, which had their first round in May. At the December 2017 WTO ministerial in Buenos Aires, 71 countries agreed to begin discussing new global rules to facilitate the expansion of the digital economy. The negotiations were formally launched in January with a joint statement by 76 countries, including the United States, in Davos at the World Economic Forum. As of the most recent round, the joint statement initiative now includes 78 WTO members, representing 90% of global trade. USCIB encouraged negotiators to focus on trade facilitation, services, digital trade, and transparency and trust. In addition to this paper, USCIB is actively engaging in the negotiations in Geneva via various efforts, including the Digital Trade Network and the International Chamber of Commerce.

Robinson on the Road (1): OECD and “Business at OECD” Annual High-Level Sessions: USCIB President/CEO Peter Robinson was one of the leaders of the Business at OECD (BIAC) delegation participating in the OECD’s annual Ministerial session in Paris May 22-23. Peter also attended the OECD’s pre-Ministerial Forum and was able to have a series of bilateral meetings with senior government representatives from the U.S. and other OECD countries, senior OECD officials including Secretary General Gurria and the newly-appointed Deputy Secretary General from the U.S., Jeffrey Schlagenhauf. Peter also attended, along with Business at OECD Vice Chair Rick Johnston (Citi), the annual BIAC General Assembly of its 30 national committees members and the 5th annual B20/G20/BIAC/OECD dialogue session ahead of the June G20 Osaka Summit, an opportunity for business to share recommendations to the G20 leaders and Sherpas.

Robinson on the Road (2): ICC High-Level Meetings: The following week, May 28-29, in Paris Peter Robinson shifted into International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) mode, representing USCIB at the ICC’s “Permanent Heads” meeting (i.e. Peter’s National Committee head counterparts from around ICC’s broad global network) and the ICC “World Council”. A special “Knowledge Solutions” session was held, at which ICC Secretary General John Denton and his leadership team laid out their vision, priorities, and structure for the organization, and which also included leadership representatives from some of ICC’s policy Commissions. A special ICC Centenary Summit was held to mark ICC’s 100th year, which was addressed by senior governmental and intergovernmental officials and at which previous ICC Chairmen and Secretaries-General were present.

Robinson on the Road (3): Geneva and London – ILO Leadership and Partnership with ICC-UK: after a short break at home, Peter was off to Geneva to participate, June 17-18, along with USCIB Vice President Gabriella Rigg Herzog, Senior Counsels Ronnie Goldberg and Tom Mackall, and several USCIB member company representatives in events at and around the International Labor Organization’s (ILO) ten-day centennial International Labor Conference. While in Geneva, Peter attended the Presidents Forum of the International Organization of Employers (IOE) and was a featured panelist, along with ILO DG Guy Ryder, WTO DG Roberto Azevedo, World Bank SVP Mahmoud Mohieldin, OECD Chief of Staff Gabriela Ramos, ITUC DG Sharan Burrow and others at an ILO event on “Multilateralism for an Equitable Future of Work.” Peter was also able to have a series of very useful informal bi-laterals with key government and international organization leaders. Peter then stopped in London on his way home, joining a panel at ICC-UK’s annual general meeting, presenting USCIB views on the future of the WTO, the multilateral trading system, and the just-launched WTO e-commerce negotiations. Peter also was invited to join and speak to ICC-UK’s Board meeting about current USCIB/ICC-USA priorities.

Hampl Discusses China and USMCA at Investor Conference: USCIB Senior Director, Investment, Trade and Financial Services, Eva Hampl, spoke on a panel entitled Trade & Tariffs – Today & Tomorrow at the annual MLP & Energy Infrastructure Conference (MEIC 2019) in Las Vegas, May 14-16. The panel, which also included Colin Bird from the Embassy of Canada and Karen Antebi from the Embassy of Mexico, provided a macro perspective on current trade issues. The discussion focused on various issues surrounding China, the importance of the U.S. trade relationship with Mexico and Canada, including the U.S. Mexico Canada Trade Agreement (USMCA), and other trade issues.

Donnelly Meets with Swiss Government Official: USCIB Vice President Shaun Donnelly met May 14 with visiting senior Swiss Government official, Phillippe Nell, Director for the Americas in the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (“SECO”), to exchange views on a range of bilateral and global trade and economic issues, including WTO reform, China, new U.S. national security review procedures for incoming Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), and possibilities for a U.S. – Switzerland trade agreement.

USCIB Board of Directors Focuses on Trade Policy Developments: USCIB’s Board of Directors at its Spring meeting in New York City on May 15, had a wide-ranging discussion of key trade issues. The Board focused on issues including “section 232” national security reviews of imported steel, aluminum, and automobiles; prospects for congressional approval of the U.S./Mexico/Canada Agreement (USMCA); U.S.-China trade tensions; as well as WTO priorities, negotiation of an e-commerce agreement and institutional reform of the WTO. The Board endorsed the leadership role and the strong policy positions USCIB’s Trade and Investment Committee have been articulating.

USCIB Leading Business Voice on UNCITRAL Negotiations on Investment Agreement “Reform”: USCIB staff members have been meeting regularly with U.S. government investment negotiators and lawyers participating in the negotiations under the auspices of the UN’s Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) Working Group 3. Those discussions of possible revisions to the vast network of 3000+ Bilateral Investment Treaties (“BITs”) as well as investment chapters in Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) around the world are zeroing in on key enforcement details, the Investor-State Dispute Settlement “ISDS” provisions. On April 29, USCIB staff met with the key US negotiators from the State Department and the office of the U.S. Trade Representative to review developments. On May 23, USCIB Vice President Shaun Donnelly was a rare business participant amidst a sea of lawyers in the discussion of the UNCITRAL negotiations at the open public meeting of the State Department’s Advisory Committee on Private International Law. USCIB is continuing to urge the U.S. Government and other participants to maintain strong substantive investment protections as well as enforcement provisions.

ICT Policy – Promoting Sound Policies for New Technologies

 USCIB Members Shape Launch of OECD Review of 2013 Privacy Guidelines, Advance Work on Security, Data Governance, & Communications Issues: Business should assume responsibility for the privacy of data through its life cycle by conducting rigorous and documented risk assessments and mitigation, ensuring transparency through both internal and external audits, continually monitoring and testing to prevent gaps, and generally going above and beyond what is required by law. This was an important message delivered USCIB members who participated in a special OECD workshop on May 6 aimed at a advancing the mandated five-year review of the 2013 OECD Guidelines Governing the Protection of Privacy and Transborder Flows of Personal Data (the “Privacy Guidelines”). The May 6-7 meetings of the Committee on Digital Economy Policy (CDEP) Working Party Security and Privacy in the Digital Economy (SPDE), also moved forward work focused on revising an OECD Recommendation on the Protection of Children Online, developing principles for access to and sharing of data, advancing the Global Forum for Digital Security for Prosperity, and adopting the draft Recommendation on Artificial Intelligence. AT&T provided a critical review of the OECD’s work on bundled communication price baskets, which was considered at the May 7 meeting of the Working Party on Communication Infrastructures and Services Policy (CISP).

USCIB Convenes Meeting with Co-Director of the UN High Level Panel on Digital Cooperation Secretariat: USCIB convened a private, luncheon discussion on June 13 with Ambassador Amandeep Gill, Co-Director of the UN High-Level Panel on Digital Cooperation (HLPDC) Secretariat. The meeting was especially timely since the HLPDC report, The Age of Digital Interdependence, was hot off the press having been issued on June 10. USCIB members reiterated key points in our November 2018 and January 2019 submissions, urging a “holistic approach” to digital policy that went beyond use of digital technologies by the information, communications, and technology (ICT) sector, and considered how ICTs can serve as enablers for innovations across all sectors, such as in healthcare, education, finance, and energy, to name a few. Members cautioned against creating duplicative Internet governance mechanisms, urged increased resources to support the Internet Governance Forum (IGF), and encouraged the HLPDC to integrate the OECD’s work on Artificial Intelligence and digital transformation as well as draw upon initiatives of standards organizations, such as the IEEE.

USCIB Engages with U.S. Department of Justice and State about International Initiatives Focused on Cybercrime and Cybersecurity: The June 13 meeting of the ICT Policy Committee featured discussions with Department of Justice officials about efforts currently underway to negotiate an additional protocol to the so-called Budapest Convention on Cybercrime. The changes are aimed at bringing the Convention up to date with developments in the digital economy, improve on the current Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) approach, and generally expand international cooperation to pursue various computer crimes. An important over-arching theme was that cybercrime (e.g. fraud and other crimes involving computers) should not be conflated with cybersecurity, the latter of which centers on the protection of networks. Complementing the cybercrime discussion, USCIB members explored with key State Department officials the latest developments in the United Nations Group of Governmental Experts on Developments in the Field of Information and Telecommunications (GGE), which enjoys U.S. support. The GGE is structured to convene regular institutional dialogue on cybersecurity issues as well as bilateral and regional discussions that feed into the UN General Assembly. In the run-up to the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly, however, the Russian Government put forward a competing proposal for a cybersecurity-focused Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG). The U.S. Government abstained on grounds that the OEWG’s work likely will be strongly influenced by Russia’s support for mechanisms to censor online content. Nevertheless, the OEWG kicked off an organization meeting on June 3 and likely will proceed ahead of the GGE process. The State Department speaker informed USCIB members that stakeholders accredited by ECOSOC may participate in the OEWG as observers; the GGE is a multilateral process involving governments only.

USCIB Members Advocate for Timely Development of a GDPR-Compliant Uniform Access Model (UAM) for Nonpublic Registration Data at ICANN 65: ICANN 65’s policy-focused meeting wrapped up on June 27 in Marrakech, Morocco. Barbara Wanner, USCIB Vice President for ICT Policy, and members from AT&T, Amazon, BT, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, The Walt Disney Company, and VeriSign, joined participants from the multi-stakeholder community to address key policy issues in management of the domain name system. For the past year, USCIB members have been contributing actively to an Expedited Policy Development Process (EPDP) to develop a formal policy to ensure that ICANN and the industry of more than 1,000 generic top-level domain (gTLD) registries and registrars meet existing ICANN contractual requirements concerning the collection of and access to registration data as well as comply with the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The EPDP’s Phase 1 Final Report was issued earlier this year, which contained 29 policy recommendations. USCIB members who participate in the ICANN’s Business and Intellectual Property Constituencies used the Marrakech meeting to underscore the importance of moving expeditiously in “Phase 2.” This phase will focus on designing a Uniform Access Model (UAM) to enable third-party access to non-public WHOIS data for legitimate law enforcement, consumer protection, brand management, and intellectual property (IP) protection purposes. Wanner serves on the Business Constituency’s Executive Committee.

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

USCIB Holds Successful Tax Conference with the OECD and Business at OECD: The fourteenth annual OECD/USCIB Tax Conference took place on June 3rd and 4th at the Four Seasons in Washington, DC. The conference focused on the taxation of the digitalizing economy and provided the first opportunity for business and governments to discuss the OECD’s work program. The conference also considered treaty issues and the tax implications of Brexit. Tax Committee Chair, Bill Sample, and Vice Chairs, Tim McDonald, Louise Weingrod, and Will Morris represented business views at the conference. Economist Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala’s keynote remarks focused on ways to improve the tax capacity of emerging markets, which are expected to receive a growing share of global private-sector investment in the years ahead

Other panelists and speakers at this year’s conference included:

  • Pascal Saint-Amans, director of the OECD Center for Tax Policy & Administration
  • Martin Kreienbaum, director general for international taxation, German Ministry of Finance
  • Chip Harter, deputy assistant secretary for international tax affairs, U.S. Treasury
  • Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, an economist and former finance minister of Nigeria
  • Doug O’Donnell, commissioner of the Large Business and International Division, IRS
  • Mike Williams, director of business and international tax, HM Treasury (UK).

USCIB Tax Committee Meets in Conjunction with OECD/USCIB Tax Conference: The USCIB Tax Committee met with Martin Kreienbaum, which afforded committee members a deep dive on some of the issues discussed at the Tax Conference. The committee also considered ways to provide input into the OECD work program and recent guidance on Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

Carol Doran Klein Represents Business Views at the Pacific Rim Tax Conference in Palo Alto: USCIB’s tax expert Carol Doran Klein presented at the ninth annual Pacific Rim Tax Conference on Digital Economy Tax Issues, held May 9-10 in California. Doran Klein’s panel covered the ongoing work on taxation of the digitalizing economy at the Organization for Economic Cooperation (OECD) and the United Nations. The panel provided an overview of the background including Action 1 of the OECD’s Base-Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) project, digital services taxes and other unilateral interim measures, and the different options under consideration at the OECD.

USCIB Submits Comments to Regulators: USCIB submitted comments on proposed regulations on Foreign Derived Intangible Income and on draft UN transfer pricing guidance. The comments can be found under the recent accomplishments section of our web page.

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

USCIB and U.S. Chamber Hold WCO E-Commerce Industry Day Meeting: On May 21, 2019, USCIB members along with many U.S. government agency partners (CBP, DHS, USTR, State, Treasury), and non-member associations working on customs issues (IRU, US Fashion Industry Association, American Association of Importers and Exporters), came together to discuss the WCO E-Commerce Framework of Standards. The meeting was led by Christa Brzozwski of DHS, and Customs and Trade Facilitation Committee Chair, Jerry Cook of Hanes brand. The goal of the meeting was to ensure that the USG have enough “industry” support for their positions going into the June Policy Commission Meeting and it was felt that this goal was achieved.

Anti-Illicit Trade – Promoting Strong International AIT Leadership and Advocating a Comprehensive and Multi-Disciplinary Approach to AIT

USCIB Anti-Illicit Trade Committee Talks FTZ Legislation: On June 10, 2019, USCIB hosted Paul Massaro, Policy Advisor for the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (U.S. Helsinki Commission) and Gary Kalman, Executive Director for the Financial Accountability and Corporate Transparency (FACT) Coalition to discuss future FTZ legislation and the Corporate Transparency Act. Massaro explained how the Helsinki Commission has engaged and become a part of the US task force on illicit trade while Kalman elaborated on the international development of the FACT coalition within the illicit finance background. At the meeting, Megan Giblin and David Luna, Committee Chair, provided updates on AITC partnerships including possible FTZ workshop, meetings with State and APEC, as well as beginning discussions with ICC BASCAP.

Food and Agriculture – Promoting an Open and Efficient Global Food System by Providing Industry Expertise

USCIB Holds Joint Food and Agriculture and Health Care Committee Meeting: On June 5, 2019, Nick Gardner, Director, Codex and International Regulatory Affairs at the US Dairy Export Council, met with USCIB members to provide a detailed overview and insight into Codex Alimentarius and its involvement with food safety. Gardner emphasized the overarching issue with WHO and FAO jointly administering Codex, which poses several challenges, such as major trade implications and access to new markets/trade to existing markets. Additionally, at the meeting, Mike Michener discussed important upcoming events, including the ECOSOC High Level Political Forum (July 9-18) and the UN General Assembly (September, 17-30).

China – Supporting Policies and Relationships that Enhance U.S.-China Business

 USCIB Submits Comments on China Tariffs and Hampl Testifies: USCIB submitted comments on June 17 to the office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) on the proposed modification to Section 301 regarding China’s policies and practices related to technology transfer, intellectual property and innovation. The submission expressed concern that proposed tariffs on essentially all Chinese imports will stifle the U.S. economy and will not achieve the Administration’s goal of changing China’s behavior. Eva Hampl, Senior Director for Investment, Trade and Financial Services testified on these issues before the Section 301 Committee on June 21 as part of a hearing spanning 7 days and with over 300 witnesses. USCIB also joined with the Tariffs Hurt the Heartland Coalition, alongside 661 other companies and association, to send a letter to President Trump on June 13 urging the administration to negotiate a strong deal with China that addresses longstanding structural issues, improves U.S. global competitiveness and eliminates tariffs.

Competition – Creating Global Legal Practices for an Open and Competitive Business Environment

USCIB Urges Reversal of 1-800 Contacts FTC Ruling: USCIB filed an amicus brief with regards to 1-800 Contacts, Inc. case to highlight the challenges American businesses would face under the recent Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) decision’s approach to antitrust liability for trademark settlements, and explain the potential negative impacts the decision would have on businesses, consumers and competition if left to stand. Earlier this year, the FTC decided to impose antitrust liability against 1-800 Contacts, the largest online retailer of contact lenses in the U.S., on the basis that 1-800 Contacts’ settlements of trademark infringing lawsuits against at least fourteen competing online contact lens retailers restricted trade. Among other things, USCIB’s amicus argues that the Commission’s decision ignores the critical importance to business of intellectual property rights and its enforcement and would unfairly require the lawful exercise of such rights to a higher pro-competition standard.

Membership

Membership Meetings: The USCIB membership department and policy staff met with representatives from member companies Nissan North America, Expedia, Astellas, and American Express 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. In addition, the USCIB membership department and USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson met with representatives from member companies AT&T and Intel Corporation.

New Members: USCIB has recently welcomed Palo Alto Networks as a new member.

Upcoming Events:

  • OECD Committee on Digital Economy Policy, Paris, France – July 1-2
  • UN High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), New York, NY – July 9-18
  • USCIB Customs and Trade Facilitation Committee Meeting, Washington, DC – July 10
  • USCIB Foundation-IOE-Deloitte SDG Summit, New York, NY – July 17
  • US Customs & Border Protection 2019 Trade Symposium, Chicago, Illinois – July 23-24
  • Internet Governance Forum USA (IGF-USA), Washington, DC – July 25
  • Meeting of APEC Electronic Commerce Steering Group and Data Privacy Subgroup, Puerto Varas, Chile – August 18-21
  • Preparing for the Future of Work: A USCIB Foundation Dialogue, Washington, DC – September 5
  • 11th Annual Engaging Business Forum on Business and Human Rights, Atlanta, Georgia – September 12-13
  • World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC), Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt – October 28-November 22
  • ICANN 66, Montreal, Canada – November 2-7
  • Meetings of the OECD Committee on Digital Economy Policy (CDEP) and its Working Parties, Paris France – November 18022
  • 14th Internet Governance Forum (IGF), Berlin, Germany – November 25-29

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Daniella Goncalves
Assistant Policy and Program Manager, Corporate Responsibility and Labor Affairs
212-703-5083 or dgoncalves@uscib.org

Mike Michener
Vice President, Product Policy and Innovation
202-617-3159 or mmichener@uscib.org

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

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

Gabriella Rigg Herzog
Vice President, Corporate Responsibility and Labor Affairs
212-703-5056 or gherzog@uscib.org

Kendall Thibeadeau
Policy and Program Associate, New York
212-703-5095 or kthibeadeau@uscib.org

Ashley Harrington
Policy and Program Associate, Washington
202-682-5861 or aharrington@uscib.org

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

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

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

Top

Modest Progress at G20 Osaka Summit Welcomed

USCIB responded with cautious optimism to the modest progress made at this year’s Group of 20 Summit in Osaka, Japan, and at the meeting between President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping, where the two leaders agreed to continue working toward a resolution of their bilateral trade disputes.

“We are relieved that the U.S. and China have stepped back from a broader escalation of their tit-for-tat tariffs,” said USCIB Senior Vice President Rob Mulligan. “We encourage both parties to move swiftly toward resolution of their disputes. The existing tariffs have already had a negative impact on American exports, and could threaten U.S. jobs as well as our broader competitiveness.”

Mulligan also welcomed the G20 leaders’ endorsement of recent OECD blueprints for cooperation on global tax measures as well as on a “human-centric” approach to the deployment of artificial intelligence – both areas where USCIB members have provided active input to international policy deliberations.

In their communiqué, the G20 leaders warned of growing risks to the global economy but stopped short of denouncing protectionism, mainly due to push-back from the United States. “We strive to realize a free, fair, nondiscriminatory, transparent, predictable and stable trade and investment environment, and to keep our markets open,” they stated.

While leaders made only passing mention of efforts to modernize the World Trade Organization, several voiced renewed support for the recently launched plurilateral negotiations on e-commerce taking place under the WTO’s aegis.

President Trump and leaders from China, Japan and the European Union joined the WTO Director General Roberto Azevêdo in welcoming the Osaka Declaration on the Digital Economy, which commits the signatories to promote efforts on international rule-making in this area and urges further progress on e-commerce at the WTO.

“A fragmentation of the digital economy would hurt us all,” said Azevêdo. “It would mean higher costs and higher barriers to entry, affecting developing countries and smaller businesses the most. The 20th century showed that a fractured global trade order was not sustainable – that’s why we created the WTO. The same is true today. You may well be working on a constitution for the economy of the 21st century.

At OECD Ministerial, Business Engages on Digital Transformation

L-R: Peter Robinson (USCIB), OECD Secretary General Angel Gurria, Andrew Wyckoff (OECD), Charles Johnston (Citi)

On May 22-23, a strong delegation of global business leaders participated in the 2019 OECD Ministerial Council Meeting, stressing the need for integrated policies that will enable business to fully deliver on the potential from the digital transformation for economies and societies.

This pivotal exchange platform allowed global members and corporate leaders affiliated with Business at OECD (known by the acronym BIAC), part of USCIB’s global network, to convey what business needs from international collaboration to promote both economic growth and inclusion. The high-level dialogue featured multiple interactions with ministers of economy, trade, foreign affairs, and finance from 36 OECD countries and key non-member economies. Senior business leaders – including Peter Robinson, USCIB’s president and CEO, Alexandre Ricard, CEO of Pernod Ricard, BIAC Vice Chair Charles Johnston, managing director of global government affairs with Citi and a USCIB board member, and Saori Dubourg, board member from BASF – formally addressed ministers during the program.

The OECD Ministerial outcomes and adopted instruments reflected critical policy recommendations from the 2019 Business at OECD Statement to Ministers, notably the need to appropriately involve stakeholders as future policy recommendations are developed, guidance that will enable data governance based on trust, and continued support for OECD evidence and facts on tax, competition and trade, including on tracking market distorting support measures and barriers. BIAC commended the adoption of the OECD Artificial Intelligence principles and the creation of an OECD Observatory on AI – business involvement in this area will be critical to achieve innovation in a number of fields including health, environment, and anti-corruption.

While in Paris, USCIB’s Robinson BIAC Secretary General Russel Mills and Senior Director Nicole Primmer attended a reception for ministers at the U.S. Mission to the OECD hosted by U.S. Charge d’Affaires Andrew Havilland. Robinson added that the week’s activities “gave me an opportunity to connect with the OECD leadership, including Jeffrey Schlagenhauf, the newly appointed OECD deputy secretary general from the United States.”

BIAC members also convened for the 5th occasion the current G20 and B20 (Business 20) presidencies to share business recommendations to G20 leaders ahead of the Osaka Summit. The event featured the participation of the Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono, Shinya Katanozaka, president and CEO of ANA Holdings, and the OECD’s leadership. Business speakers from BIAC’s French and German national members MEDEF and BDI, its Argentinian observer UIA, and from Accenture also debated views with five G20 sherpas and senior government officials. In this meeting, Business at OECD Chair Phil O’Reilly affirmed the importance of ensuring continuity and frank exchanges across presidencies to achieve tangible outcomes in G20 declarations and implementation actions.

Earlier, the Business at OECD Annual General Assembly brought together BIAC’s executive board, leadership from national organizations from 30 OECD and non-OECD countries, and associate expert groups to discuss our strategic priorities for global governance and national challenges. The meeting also benefited from a conversation with leadership from 12 major BIAC policy groups to present the OECD agenda across critical issues, our business perspectives, and the role the OECD can play in these fields.

Ulrik Vestergaard Knudsen, deputy secretary general of the OECD, gave a keynote address to participants on major OECD initiatives affecting businesses, and Alvaro Pereira, director of the Country Studies Branch of the OECD Economics Department, responded to insights from BIAC’s 2019 Economic Survey, and also shared main themes from the 2019 OECD Economic Outlook.