USCIB Competition Committee Hosts DOJ Antitrust Division Deputy

USCIB’s Competition Committee held its fall meeting on October 28 in a virtual format due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Following welcome and introductory remarks by Dina Kallay (Ericsson) and Jennifer Patterson (Arnold & Porter), Chair and Vice Chair of the Committee, respectively, the group received an update on the upcoming meetings of the OECD Competition Committee from John Taladay (Baker Botts), Chair of the Business at OECD (“BIAC”) Competition Committee, and on the current work of the ICC Competition Commission from USCIB Senior Director for Trade, Investment, and Financial Services Eva Hampl.

The meeting featured Alexander Okuliar, deputy assistant attorney general, Antitrust Division, U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), as the main speaker. Okuliar recently returned to the DOJ following two decades at both federal antitrust agencies and the private sector, and is responsible for civil merger and conduct investigations and litigation. He delivered remarks to USCIB members that included the DOJ’s recent work regarding competition in digital markets; the recent DOJ Business Review Letter to IEEE; and China, including due process challenges in China’s antimonopoly agencies and the new China Standards 2035 policy. Following his remarks, DAAG Okuliar engaged in an open Q&A session with committee members.

The Committee, under the direction of Kallay also discussed various issues of concern, including on advocacy for international convergence re compliance. Finally, Lisa Kimmel (Crowell & Moring) provided the group an update of the recent report of the House Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative law, on the Investigation of Competition in Digital Markets.

 

US Nominates Liddell for OECD Secretary General

Chris Liddell

The United States government formally nominated Chris Liddell on October 20 to be the next Secretary General of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the influential Paris-based thirty-seven-member international economic policy group.  Current OECD Secretary General Angel Gurria’s third five-year term will expire mid-2021. The selection process is underway with multiple candidates nominated, headed toward a final selection in early 2021.

Liddell is currently serving as Assistant to the President and White House Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy Coordination. He is a dual national, American and his native New Zealand. According to USCIB Senior Advisor and Former U.S. Ambassador Shaun Donnelly, Liddell brings a very impressive private sector resume to his current White House senior position and to his OECD candidacy. Prior to joining the Trump Administration, Liddell served as Vice Chairman and Chief Financial Officer at General Motors, where he led global finance operations and managed the company’s $23 billion IPO in November 2010, which, at that time, was the largest public offering in history. Liddell has more than three decades of experience in corporate leadership, including Chief Financial Officer and Senior Vice President of Microsoft Corporation and Chief Financial Officer of International Paper.

USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson welcomed Liddell’s nomination. “We at USCIB are pleased to see the U.S. government coming forward with a strong nominee for the important OECD Secretary General position, succeeding Angel Gurria with whom we have enjoyed working over the past fourteen years,” said Robinson. “We are particularly pleased to see a nominee with strong private sector background and hands-on policy experience at the top levels of the U.S. government. The competition for the post will be tough with other strong nominees but there has never been an OECD Secretary General from the U.S.”

The nomination process closed on November 1. The governments of Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Geece, Poland, Switzerland and Sweden have also formally nominated candidates for the Secretary General position. The United Kingdom Ambassador, as Dean (i.e. longest serving) of the OECD’s Council of Ambassadors, is leading the selection process. According to Donnelly, the target is to have the next Secretary General elected by the Council by March 1, 2021 and in place for a five-year term beginning June 1, 2021, presumably shortly after the organization’s annual Ministerial meeting scheduled to take place in Paris.

“USCIB and our business colleagues in the OECD’s Business at OECD (”BIAC”) organization hope to be able to play a constructive, informal role in the selection process,” said Donnelly.

USCIB Provides Feedback on AI to the National Institute of Standards and Technology

As the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) works on its principles of explainable “Artificial Intelligence (AI),” USCIB welcomed an opportunity to submit comments on behalf of its members. The comments, sent to the NIST Director and Undersecretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology Dr. Walter Copan, draw from industry experience, as well as from USCIB’s direct input to the development of the OECD’s AI Principles through USCIB’s affiliation with Business at OECD (known as “BIAC”).

“NIST’s effort represents a positive first step in terms of grappling with the issue of AI explainability,” remarked USCIB Vice President for ICT Policy Barbara Wanner. “The draft, and NIST’s broader program to develop approaches to AI trustworthiness, should significantly contribute to the private and public sector’s understanding of the many considerations necessary to implement AI, while ultimately enabling broader, faster and more responsible use of AI. We believe that, to be most effective, humans and machines should collaborate, combining their respective strengths to provide sustainable value for consumers, businesses, governments and society.”

In its comments, USCIB also highlighted the work of USCIB members such as Facebook, Google, IBM and Microsoft within an Experts Group that developed the OECD’s AI Principles. The U.S. government also contributed actively to the development of the OECD principles, under the leadership of the State Department.  On May 22, 2019, the OECD’s 36 member countries, along with Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Peru, and Romania,  endorsed the OECD Council Recommendation on Artificial Intelligence. The principles contained in the recommendation were subsequently endorsed by the G20.

Hampl Joins BIAC-OECD Discussion on Building Resilient Supply Chains

USCIB joined Business at OECD (BIAC) for a joint meeting on October 7 with the OECD to discuss building resilience in global supply chains to ensure that trade and investment can contribute to a robust, inclusive and sustainable recovery.

BIAC raised some key messages, such as the economic fallout from COVID-19 which has highlighted the need to strengthen supply chain resilience amid significant disruptions and containment measures that were especially stark during the early phase of the pandemic. BIAC added that because OECD work has demonstrated the gains from deepening and expanding international specialization in global value chains, the Organization should provide an important evidence-base on how countries can better prepare for future crises without disrupting global value chains and imposing restrictions at a time where global trade and investment are essential elements for innovation, job creation and getting our economies back on track.

Eva Hampl, who is leading USCIB’s work on trade and investment, participated in the conversation along with several USCIB members including from Apple, DHL, JPMorgan, Walmart and Pfizer.

In her remarks, Hampl noted the critical role of government cooperation as business is working to strengthening supply chains. “Consistency and predictability is critical for business,” said Hampl. “That’s why government cooperation and engagement with business is necessary to find effective solutions. This is where the OECD can provide crucial value by facilitating the conversation between business and governments.

USCIB Welcomes a Changing of the Guard at US Mission to OECD

Andrew Havilland
Photo source: U.S. Mission to the OECD

Late summer is traditionally turnover season at U.S. diplomatic missions overseas, according to U.S. Ambassador (ret.) Shaun Donnelly, who serves as senior adviser at USCIB. Pandemic notwithstanding, 2020 is no exception. For USCIB, a key move is at the U.S. Mission to the OECD in Paris. Andrew Havilland is wrapping up three years as chargé d’affaires (i.e. acting Ambassador) at the U.S. Mission to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).  Three years ago, Havilland arrived in Paris as deputy chief of mission (DCM) at the OECD but for three years, no U.S. Ambassador has been confirmed.

“Havilland has done a fantastic job leading the U.S. Mission through a very challenging period,” said Donnelly. “He is liked, respected and listened to across the OECD and beyond.”

Throughout his time in Paris, Havilland worked closely with USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson and other USCIB staff on a wide range of major policy issues.

Whitney Baird Photo source: US Mission to the EU

“We are, of course, sad to see Andrew depart Paris but are delighted that he’s being replaced as DCM/Chargé by Whitney Baird, another one of the State Department’s very best senior economic experts,” noted Robinson. Baird has a background in EU issues and trade policy and is coming from a tour as deputy assistant secretary of state for African affairs, in charge of West African and regional issues. She will be arriving in Paris next week to take over leadership of the Mission.

Robinson led a September 2 virtual session with Baird and Havilland for USCIB policy managers to brief Baird on key policy issues ahead at the OECD for USCIB member companies; tax policy, including digital services tax, and Internet and digital economy issues were at the top of the agenda, but other important policy areas were also discussed – from trade and investment, environment, labor and social affairs, anti-corruption and responsible business conduct to health and anti-illicit trade.

Additionally, Robinson and USCIB policy experts thanked Havilland and his team for their access and close cooperation on a range of issues over the past few years and agreed to continue the close, mutually beneficial cooperation on key OECD issues, organizational as well as policy-related, with Baird and her U.S. Mission team going forward. For the foreseeable future, that cooperation, like all USCIB engagement with the OECD and Business at OECD (BIAC) will be by email, conference call and Zoom sessions.

After a three and-a-half year gap in the post of U.S. Ambassador, President Donald Trump nominated current State Department Assistant Secretary for Economic and Business Affairs Manisha Singh as the next U.S. Ambassador to the OECD on May 5. If confirmed, Singh would assume charge of the U.S. Mission to the OECD and Baird would revert to the DCM role. Assistant Secretary Singh had a confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) on August 6. The SFRC will now need to vote on her nomination and then, if voted out of committee, the Full Senate would have to vote on her confirmation before she could be sworn in as the next U.S. Ambassador to the OECD and take up the post in Paris. Until that time Baird will head the U.S. Mission as Chargé d’Affaires.

Note: If members have questions or suggestions related to ongoing OECD issues, please work with the appropriate USCIB policy manager and/or relevant USCIB committee leadership.  USCIB staff stand ready to assist member companies with any OECD-related issues, including introductions to new Chargé Whitney Baird and her senior staff.

USCIB Statement on OECD’s Inclusive Framework

USCIB has issued the following statement on June 23 with regards to the OECD Inclusive Framework process:

USCIB remains committed to proactive participation in the current OECD Inclusive Framework process to achieve consensus on acceptable modifications to the international tax system to properly address the tax challenges of the digitalization of the economy.

USCIB and its member companies will continue to work diligently towards a sustainable agreement and will encourage the U.S. government to remain committed to this process.

COVID-19 Highlights Deep-Rooted Challenges of Informal Sectors

At a recent OECD virtual meeting, USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson discussed one of the main, deep-rooted structural challenges underpinning the global economy—informality—the extent of which has been highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Robinson noted during his remarks at the annual OECD Global Forum on COVID-19 and Responsible Business Conduct that in the longer-term, solutions are going to require dialogue, cooperation and partnership – particularly with regards to issues impacting vulnerable economies.

Informality represents approximately 60% of workers and 80% of businesses worldwide. It is at risk of expanding due to the current economic downturn. The informal sector work is characterized by high degrees of poverty and serious decent work deficits.

“If we can find ways of incentivizing informal firms to formalize, we support both a sustainable recovery by mitigating the size of the problem and advance workers’ rights, good governance and responsible business conduct for the SME and larger companies linked to them through business relationships,” said Robinson. “One critical bottom line in creating an environment that incentivizes and promotes the uptake of responsible business conduct is the fundamental importance of rule of law, enforcement, and well-functioning institutions.”

Robinson also reiterated USCIB’s commitment to responsible business conduct.

USCIB has advocated with the U.S. Department of State to mobilize multilateral development bank assistance for vulnerable economies, particularly for social protection systems and rapid access to relief funds to SMEs to prevent closures and provide funding to workers until they can get back to work.

Robinson Reiterates Commitment to Responsible Business Conduct

Robinson participates virtually in the OECD Global Forum

USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson participated virtually in the annual OECD Global Forum on COVID-19 and Responsible Business Conduct (RBC), which was held on May 19.

The COVID-19 crisis has dramatically disrupted business and exposed major vulnerabilities in the economy and global supply chains. The event gathered thought leaders from government and business, trade unions, civil society, academia and international organizations to discuss how responsible business conduct can build value and more resilient supply chains in a post-COVID-19 world and how we can use the ongoing pandemic to integrate responsible business thinking into policies and action to bring remedy to people, meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and tackle climate change.

Speakers, including Robinson, discussed a variety of themes including the promotion of business responsibility in a post-COVID-19 world; the role of responsible business conduct in government support and recovery packages and how innovative engagement across stakeholders can promote responsible and resilient supply chains.

Robinson spoke on a panel titled, Building Value: The Role of RBC in Government Support and Recovery Packages. “Business is committed to RBC as highlighted in the MNE Guidelines,” emphasized Robinson. “RBC is good business and the crisis is not an excuse to fail to uphold responsible business conduct. In fact, there are many examples of companies already contributing meaningfully to relief and recovery in terms of donations of personal protection equipment, retrofitting production to produce needed emergency supplies, addressing employee safety, etc.”

USCIB has advocated with the U.S. Department of State to mobilize multilateral development bank assistance for vulnerable economies, particularly for social protection systems and rapid access to relief funds to SMEs to prevent closures and provide funding to workers until they can get back to work.

The annual OECD Global Forum has become the leading event for governments, businesses, trade unions and civil society to promote international dialogue on RBC and contribute to the effective implementation of the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises.

OECD Digital Economy Policy Group Discusses Data Governance, Privacy Amid COVID-19

The OECD Committee on Digital Economy Policy (CDEP) and one of its working parties held virtual meetings April 21-23 against the uncertain global backdrop caused by the COVID-19 virus. USCIB Vice President for ICT Policy Barbara Wanner participated.

By necessity, the normally week-long meetings were streamlined, focusing on only a few items pertaining to data governance and privacy as well as pursuing “alignment and agreement” on the 2021-22 CDEP Program of Work and Budget. These meetings were preceded by webinars on April 15 and April 17, which focused on (1) “Data Governance and Privacy Challenges in the Fight Against COVID-19” and (2) data portability, respectively.

“Not surprisingly, discussions in the data portability webinar and CDEP meetings repeatedly circled back to the appropriate use of digital technologies and data to address COVID mitigation and recovery,” said Wanner.

According to Wanner, CDEP’s consideration of the 2021-2022 Program of Work and Budget featured numerous government interventions noting the importance of addressing COVID-mitigation in the near term, but urging the CDEP to view the COVID-19 crisis through a wider lens in the medium term and consider how technologies and data may be galvanized to address future global crises.

“The CDEP’s focus should be on [the role of data and digital technologies in] crisis management, in general, since the next global crisis may not be health-related,” the European Commission representative urged; the U.S. Government concurred.

Under the auspices of Business at OECD (BIAC), USCIB members stepped up in both workshops and in the CDEP meetings to provide expert commentary that detailed how they are endeavoring to develop privacy-respecting COVID solutions. In BIAC’s PWB intervention, BIAC CDEP Co-Chair Makoto Yokozawa echoed the theme of government interventions, encouraging OECD current and future work-streams to consider lessons learned from the pandemic about the use of data and digital technologies.

One example was USCIB members’ Apple and Google application programming interfaces to make it possible to trace COVID transmission. Importantly, the venture addresses many of the issues identified by the data regulators as necessary to build public trust and safeguard privacy protections. For more information on this joint venture, please click here.

USCIB member Microsoft’s Carolyn Nguyen intervened on behalf of BIAC. Addressing the topic at a higher level, she cautioned the OECD to avoid policy siloing in developing COVID-19 policy recommendations, urging a holistic, cross-committee/cross-sectional approach as was used for the Going Digital project. Nguyen further underscored the importance of public-private partnership and voluntary and responsible data sharing in enabling rapid response. She also suggested that the OECD’s review of the 2013 Privacy Guidelines review and the Enhanced Access and Sharing of Data (EASD) initiative should take the Covid-19 experience into consideration before going forward.

“It’s clear that technology can and must play a part in creating the environment in which we can safely and carefully begin to return to work and re-open businesses. It also is clear that any solution needs to be approved by elected officials, designed with strong privacy protections in mind, include clear and transparent communications with citizens, and only be used to address public health needs,” said Nguyen.

Nguyen further noted Microsoft’s efforts to build privacy compliance into its tools and services has made it easier for the organizations that it supports to focus their efforts on advancing their missions of combating the pandemic. For example, she noted that Microsoft’s Healthcare Bot is being used to build COVID-19 self-assessment tools by organizations around the world, including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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.