USCIB Objects to Implementation of Digital Service Taxes by France

Washington, D.C., July 17, 2019 – Responding to the recent announcement by France to implement a digital service taxes (DST), the United States Council for International Business (USCIB), which represents America’s most successful global companies, urges countries to avoid unilateral measures and instead pursue a consensus-based, comprehensive and income tax-based solution. USCIB supports the OECD Inclusive Framework process for reaching agreement on these global issues.

The French law will impose a tax of three percent on certain revenue earned by technology companies including advertising, commissions from digital marketplaces and sales of data.

“Taxes on revenues are distortive,” said USCIB Vice President for Tax Policy Carol Doran Klein. “The total tax may exceed company profit and misallocate profits to the market jurisdiction. Any solution should be treaty compliant and designed to avoid controversy. It should tax income based on where value is created by companies, including appropriate recognition of where intangibles are created. Furthermore, any solution should not discourage innovation.”

Klein also warned that the French tax will not be easy to implement and will put a significant burden on companies to set up systems to track global revenues. “Implementing such new systems would be both time consuming and expensive – not simple or easily implemented – and would divert company resources from useful profit-making activities.”

“It is unfortunate that France has decided to repeat the mistakes identified in the debate over the unsuccessful EU DST,” said Bill Sample, chair of USCIB’s Tax Committee. “I urge France to focus their energies on reaching a consensus solution within the OECD’s Inclusive Framework for a sustainable international tax system that recognizes innovation and production and minimizes the adverse impact of the costs of double taxation on business investment and growth.”

USCIB reiterated its concerns in a letter to the government of New Zealand, which is also looking at options for taxing the digital economy.

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, generating $5 trillion in annual revenues and employing over 11 million people worldwide. As the U.S. affiliate of the International Chamber of Commerce, the International Organization of Employers and Business at OECD, USCIB provides business views to policy makers and regulatory authorities worldwide, and works to facilitate international trade and investment. More at www.uscib.org.

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

USCIB Helps Shape AI Recommendations at OECD

The OECD Committee on Digital Economy Policy (CDEP) met in Paris July 1-2 to discuss follow-on work on Artificial Intelligence (AI), which was anchored by the May 22 Council Recommendation on Artificial Intelligence, an instrument uniformly lauded by CDEP delegates and stakeholders. USCIB Vice President for ICT Policy Barbara Wanner was on the ground, alongside members from Amazon, IBM, Microsoft, Netflix and TMG Legal.

Experts from Facebook, Google, IBM and Microsoft actively shaped the development of the AI Recommendation as participants on a special AI Experts Group. Under the auspices of Business at OECD (BIAC), USCIB members again stepped up on June 1 to provide the business perspective on practical implementation of the AI Recommendation as well as the complementary AI Policy Observatory.

“While there were no concrete outputs from the two-day meeting, the discussions provided important feedback to the OECD Secretariat, which will revise and refine the AI implementation document and plans for the AI Policy Observatory for consideration at the November 18-22 meetings of the CDEP and its Working Parties,” said Wanner.

Other notable topics addressed during the two-day meeting included next steps for Going Digital Phase 2 project and the Going Digital Toolkit, a discussion of the Blockchain pillar, further work on online platforms, and a proposal to revise the mandate of the Working Party on Security and Privacy in the Digital Economy.

Tax Conference Provides First Look at OECD’s Digitalization Roadmap

L-R: Pascal Saint-Amans (OECD), Gaël Perraud (French Ministry of Economy & Finance), Brian Jenn (U.S. Treasury), Pam Olson (PwC), Louise Weingrod (Johnson & Johnson)

Global companies are facing potentially seismic shifts in the taxation of their operations, with national tax authorities seeking to keep pace with a rapidly digitalizing business environment. This was the backdrop when more than 250 global tax professionals, government officials and other tax experts gathered in Washington, D.C. June 3-4 for USCIB’s annual OECD International Tax Conference. This year’s event provided an especially timely window into the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s work to develop tax policy recommendations to governments.

On May 31, the OECD released a work program to develop proposals for allocating a company’s profits among countries that re-balance source and residence taxation and also result in a global minimum amount tax paid on earnings. Drawing from the views of nearly 130 jurisdictions (far broader than the OECD’s membership of 36 countries), the OECD roadmap could result in fundamental changes to national tax laws and bilateral tax treaties, including a move to a much more multilateral approach to international corporate taxation.

USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson asked conference-goers in his opening remarks: “How will a new consensus form around reallocation of taxing rights? Many interests will need to be balanced to achieve a solution that will be ‘globally fair, sustainable and modern,’ to quote the G20. The OECD also needs to keep global growth front and center.”

This sentiment was echoed by Bill Sample, tax policy advisory at Microsoft and chair of USCIB’s Tax Committee.

“Unlike the OECD’s earlier BEPS [base erosion and profit-shifting] exercise, this project will reallocate tax revenues among various countries,” he said. “It’s a political exercise, requiring compromise and the balancing of many competing interests among governments. One thing parties generally agree on is the need to keep these revenue shifts modest, and to have a predictable, sustainable model for global tax policy going forward.”

The conference was the 14th annual gathering on global tax policy developments convened by USCIB, in cooperation with the OECD and its official private-sector advisory body, Business at OECD (also known as BIAC).

The G20’s mandate

G20 leaders have tasked the OECD, with a long and distinguished history of work on international tax policies, to lead work a consensus-based solution to address the impacts of the digitalization of the economy, with a target of developing recommendations by next year.

The OECD’s effort represents “a fundamental rethink of the basics of the international tax system,” USCIB Vice President and International Tax Counsel Carol Doran Klein told Bloomberg News. “The scope could not be broader.”

Economist Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

G20 governments will review the OECD roadmap at a June meeting in Japan.

“Despite the fact that people have been listening to all the talk about this being the largest international tax project, it’s only when people read this and see how wide-ranging this is that they’ll be able to appreciate it,” Will Morris, chair of the BIAC Committee on Taxation and Fiscal Policy and deputy global tax policy leader at PwC, told Bloomberg. “It’s not just about changing technical rules. It’s about saying, essentially, the world has changed, and this system we’re looking at needs to change with it.”

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).

It’s not too early to mark your calendars for next year’s OECD International Tax Conference, which will take place June 1-2 in Washington, D.C.

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.

USCIB Applauds Approval of OECD Principles on Artificial Intelligence

Washington, D.C., May 22, 2019 – The United States Council for International Business (USCIB), applauds the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) approval on May 22 of the OECD Principles on Artificial Intelligence (AI). Working through Business at OECD (BIAC), a core group of USCIB members participated in a special, 50+ member experts group that was convened to scope these principles. They contributed directly to the development of five complementary, values-based principles for the responsible development and stewardship of trustworthy AI and five recommendations for public policy and international cooperation.

Importantly, these principles are not prescriptive. They highlight human-centered values, fairness, transparency, robust security, and accountability as foundational elements for AI deployment that will ensure inclusive growth, sustainable development and well-being. The principles, which were developed through multistakeholder dialogue involving input from business, government, civil society, the technical community, and labor unions, also recognize the appropriate role of governments in creating an enabling environment for research and development to drive innovation in trustworthy AI. They call upon governments to develop mechanisms to share data and knowledge and programs to equip people with digital skills so they can transition to new employment that will harness AI for economic and societal good. The OECD’s 36 member countries, along with Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Peru and Romania, who signed up to the AI Principles at the organization’s annual Ministerial Council Meeting today in Paris, further agreed to cooperate across borders and sectors to share information, and develop international, interoperable standards to ensure safe, fair and trustworthy AI.

“USCIB is honored that its members played a direct role in shaping principles that will enable us to tap the extraordinary potential of Artificial Intelligence in a manner that will improve economic and societal well-being across diverse sectors such as energy and the environment, healthcare, and transportation, to name a few,” said USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson. “Perhaps most important, these principles include important safeguards that keep human-centered values at the core of AI deployment and prevail upon all ‘AI actors’ to respect democratic values throughout the AI system lifecycle, commit to transparency, and to demonstrate accountability, among other responsibilities. We see a bright future ahead and look forward to the adoption of these principles by OECD members and non-members alike,” added Robinson.

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, generating $5 trillion in annual revenues and employing over 11 million people worldwide. As the U.S. affiliate of the International Chamber of Commerce, the International Organization of Employers and Business at OECD, USCIB provides business views to policy makers and regulatory authorities worldwide, and works to facilitate international trade and investment. More at www.uscib.org.

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

Doran Klein Contributes Expertise on Taxation of Digitalizing Economy at Pacific Rim Conference

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.

Other topics covered at the conference included: International Aspects of Tax Policy and Enacted Legislation: Did it Work?; Corporate Restructuring in Light of Tax Legislation and BEPS; and Transfer Pricing, Documentation and International Tax. High-level government tax officials from Australia, Canada, India and Vietnam attended the conference as well.

USCIB will be hosting its own tax conference, alongside the OECD and Business at OECD June 3-4 in Washington DC. Now in its 14th year, this annual conference provides a unique opportunity for the U.S. business community to interact with key representatives from the OECD Centre for Tax Policy and Administration (“CTPA”) as well as key members of the OECD’s Committee on Fiscal Affairs.

For more information visit USCIB’s tax conference registration page.

USCIB Shapes Launch of OECD Review of Privacy Guidelines

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) held a special OECD workshop on May 6 aimed at 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”). A Privacy Guidelines Expert Group (PGEG), which was established earlier this year to advise and provide input to the review, proposed exploring organizational accountability via this workshop as one of the key challenges in implementing the 2013 Privacy Guidelines.

Barbara Wanner, who leads USCIB’s work on ICT policy, attended the meetings along with several USCIB members from AT&T, Facebook, Google, Mastercard, and Microsoft.

“Business underscored the importance of assuming 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,” said Wanner.

USCIB members also took the lead in drafting a Business at OECD (BIAC) statement setting forth BIAC’s priorities for the OECD’s review of the 2013 Privacy Guidelines.

“This statement will inform BIAC interventions in Privacy Guidelines Review in the coming months and help to shape refinements to 2013 Privacy Guidelines that ensure its continued relevance as a global standard for privacy frameworks as the digital economy continues to evolve,” added Wanner.

The OECD also held its meetings of the Committee on Digital Economy Policy (CDEP) Working Party Security and Privacy in the Digital Economy (SPDE) from May 6-7. The Committee 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. The Working Parties on Communication Infrastructures and Services Policy (CISP) and Measurement and Analysis in the Digital Economy (MADE) met during this period as well. CISP agreed to undertake an ambitious review of the OECD’s 2004 Recommendation on Broadband Development.

USCIB Co-Sponsors Reception to Promote OECD Trade Priorities

Dominik Kümmerle (Business at OECD), Cliff Sosnow (Business at OECD Trade Committee), Pat Ivory (Ibec, Business at OECD Trade Committee), Eva Hampl (USCIB), Russell Mills (Business at OECD), Julia Nielson (OECD Trade Directorate)

USCIB Senior Director for Trade, Investment and Financial Services Eva Hampl joined global business colleagues from Business at OECD and Irish Business (Ibec) to co-sponsor a reception in Paris on April 25 to officially launch a report “Business at OECD Considerations for Trade and Investment – Priorities for Future OECD Work.” Th event was held in conjunction with the OECD Trade Committee meetings which took place the week of April 22, and built on the report by reinforcing the relationship between Business at OECD and the OECD Trade Committee.

Chair of the OECD Trade Committee Ambassador Didier Chambovey, who serves as head of the Swiss Permanent Mission to the WTO and EFTA, made a few opening remarks at the reception, underlining the importance of the relationship between Business at OECD and the OECD Trade Committee. Pat Ivory, vice chair of the Business at OECD Trade Committee joined Hampl in making a few comments, highlighting issues of importance to Business at OECD and USCIB’s respective economies and business more broadly.

In her remarks, Hampl noted the challenges the global economy is faced with in the midst of so many countries turning inward denouncing globalization and promoting protectionist policies. “In that context, the most effective way to push back is with empirical evidence—on issues like services, global value chains, policies related to national security and the danger of trade restrictive measures such as tariffs or quotas to the global trading system,” said Hampl. “We must look to the future of the global economy; that is why the work that is currently being done on digital trade at the OECD is invaluable to business – all of our companies operate in the digital space and understanding exactly how the digital economy works is key to successfully regulating this space.

While in Paris, Hampl also attended the OECD Trade Committee meetings April 22-26. According to Hampl, while there were many issues on the agenda, the clear focus across the board was on digital trade. “While the OECD does not directly engage in the WTO E-Commerce negotiation, there is a keen awareness the role the analytical work done at the OECD can play in advancing the negotiations at the WTO,” said Hampl. To that end, Business at OECD circulated a paper on what business is looking for in the WTO E-Commerce negotiations and how the OECD can contribute to the effort.

In addition to attending the official sessions of the OECD Trade Committee, where Business at OECD made interventions on the preparations for the Ministerial Council Meeting (MCM) in May 2019, the Interim Economic Outlook, and Digital Trade, Business at OECD also held its own meeting focused on business priorities. That meeting included an extensive exchange on the Committee’s priorities and next steps where much of the conversation centered on digital trade in its various forms, but also addressed broader issues like China and the state of the global economy. A dinner with OECD leadership also provided a great opportunity to informally exchange views on these important issues.

 

New OECD Reports Outlines Business Investment Contribution to SDGs

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has recently published a report on “The Contribution of International Business Investment to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).” The report surveys the main type of financing behind business investment in developing countries, recent trends, an evaluation of the contribution of these flows to the SDGs, and prospects going forward.

The report highlights that multinational enterprises (MNEs) have become one of the most important actors for channeling investment to the developing countries. A relatively new actor providing financing for development is the State-Owned Enterprise (SOE). Furthermore, mergers and acquisitions (M&A) is one of the primary vehicles that MNEs use to invest in foreign markets and a major component of foreign direct investment. M&A inflows in developing countries starting declining already in 2012.

An increasingly important source of international investment into developing countries is China; in 2017 China doubled its M&A in developing countries to $25 billion, making it their top resource of international M&A (ahead of Japan and the US). Meanwhile, private flows align naturally with the SDGs in the area of infrastructure: SDG 6, which focuses on clean water and sanitation), SDG 7 on affordable and clean energy, SDG 9 on industry, innovation and infrastructure, and SDG 10 which aims to reduce inequalities.

“The report calls to action for improving the global rules for trade and investment, pursuing domestic policy reform agenda to improve business climates, and addressing new areas of regulatory co-operation,” observed USCIB Senior Director for Investment, Trade and Financial Services Eva Hampl.

The OECD will be organizing a round table on investment and sustainable development on October 23, 2019, as part of the next OECD Investment Week.

Latest US Business Tax Dialogue With OECD to Focus on Digitalization

Washington, D.C., April 23, 2019 – With national governments weighing the tax implications of the digitalization of the economy, the G20 has called on the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to deliver a solution by 2020 to address the matter. Against this backdrop, American and other global companies will meet with key officials from the OECD and national governments at a high-level conference, June 3-4 in Washington, D.C.

The 2019 OECD International Tax Conference, which will take place at the Four Seasons Hotel, will provide a unique opportunity for business experts to interact directly with key leadership from the OECD’s Center for Tax Policy and Administration (CTFA), along with senior tax officials from the United States and other OECD countries.

The conference is the 14th annual gathering on global tax policy developments convened by the United States Council for International Business (USCIB), in cooperation with the 36-nation OECD and its official private-sector advisory body Business at OECD (also known as BIAC). Details on the event are available at www.uscibtax.org.

“With the taxation of the digitalizing economy on a fast-track at the OECD, this year’s conference comes at just the right time,” said USCIB President and CEO Peter M. Robinson. “All companies are potentially affected by the changes that are being considered. We will also be looking closely at tax and development policy, the latest developments in tax treaties, transfer pricing and the tax implications of Brexit. It’s really a must-attend event for global tax professionals.”

Key speakers at this year’s conference include:
Pascal Saint-Amans – Director of the Center for Tax Policy & Administration, OECD
Grace Perez-Navarro – Deputy Director of the CTPA, OECD
Martin Kreisenbaum – Director General, International Taxation, German Ministry of Finance
Lafayette (Chip) Harter – Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Tax Affairs, U.S. Treasury
Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala – Economist and International Development Expert (Nigeria)
Doug O’Donnell – Commissioner, Large Business and International Division, IRS
Mike Williams – Director of Business and International Tax, HM Treasury (UK)
Will Morris – Chair, BIAC Committee on Taxation and Fiscal Affairs
Bill Sample – Chair, USCIB Tax Committee

The tax event continues USCIB’s fruitful collaboration with the OECD and BIAC on digital economy topics, following upon a USCIB-hosted March conference in Washington, D.C. on the OECD’s “Going Digital” project.

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, generating $5 trillion in annual revenues and employing over 11 million people worldwide. 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 information is available at www.uscib.org.

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