USCIB Acknowledges the G20 Finance Ministers Endorsement of the October Two-Pillar Global Tax Proposals

Washington D.C., October 13, 2021—The United States Council for International Business (USCIB) notes the endorsement by the G-20 Finance Ministers today of the OECD/G20 Inclusive Framework landmark deal announced on October 8. The deal, agreed by 136 countries, including the US, establishes a new framework for international tax reform represented by two distinct proposals or pillars. The two-pillar solution will be delivered to the G20 Leaders’ Summit in Rome at the end of the month while the intensive work on the design and drafting of the numerous parts of the deal continues into 2022.

“The OECD has once again reached a significant milestone on schedule and was able to add a handful of key countries into the fold of the deal agreement since July,” said USCIB Vice President and International Tax Counsel Rick Minor.

The October deal terms include a long list of technical work that must still be completed in relatively short order according to the OECD timeline. USCIB Tax Committee company members are positioned to directly advise the OECD drafting teams through its membership in the Business at OECD Taxation Committee. According to Minor, “putting aside the ambitious timelines through 2022, our members will be focused on the development of the design and details for key aspects of each of the pillars. With respect to Pillar One, this includes, but is not limited to, dispute prevention and resolution mechanisms, the tax liability rules, revenue sourcing, the marketing and distribution safe harbor and so-called Amount B. We are also mindful of the fact that the drafting of the Pillar Two rules is on a parallel path with the numerous GILTI deliberations in Congress this fall which arguably puts pressure on that process if there is no coordination in review.” USCIB will remain engaged in the OECD rule design process through Business at OECD and directly, through the appropriate engagement.

About USCIB

USCIB promotes open markets, competitiveness and innovation, sustainable development, and corporate responsibility, supported by international engagement and regulatory coherence. Its members include U.S.-based global companies and professional services firms from every sector of our economy, with operations in every region of the world. As the U.S. affiliate of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), the International Organization of Employers (IOE) and Business at OECD (BIAC), USCIB provides business views to policy makers and regulatory authorities worldwide and works to facilitate international trade and investment. More at www.uscib.org.

Contact:

Rick Minor

VP and International Tax Counsel

rminor@uscib.org

Robinson Joins Business, Health and Employer Experts at IOE Event on COVID-19: What Employers Need to Know on Vaccinations and Prevention

Left to right: Roberto Suarez Santos, Guy Ryder, Susan Hopgood, Peter Robinson

As employers remain on the frontline of the pandemic response, caught between calls to mandate vaccination in the workplace and demands to respect the decisions on vaccination of the individual, the International Organization of Employers (IOE) hosted a timely dialogue, “COVID-19: What Employers Need to Know on Vaccinations and Prevention.”

The October 5 event brought together foremost experts from the health, employer and business fields, including World Health Organization (WHO) Chief Scientist Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, ILO Director General Guy Ryder, IOE President Roberto Suarez Santos and USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson, among others, to discuss this delicate balance, as well as the increasingly complicated situation in developing countries around access to vaccines, in addition to vaccine hesitancy. Panelists focused on a central question: how can employer organizations help companies navigate all these complex and politically charged issues?

Swaminathan outlined the stark realities of COVID-19 and the continued challenges of distribution and access to vaccines worldwide, while DG Ryder acknowledged some of the key dilemmas facing society and employers: in addition to the inequality in distribution and access, the question of mandates and of privacy, for example, is an employer empowered to know the vaccine status of employees? As an employer representative, Robinson discussed the responsibility employers have in vaccine literacy and COVID response and recovery, particularly following the results of the Edelman Trust Barometer, which revealed that employers—not “Big Business” but employers in general—were felt by employees to be one of the most trusted messengers of information on Covid response.

“While there have been fears of a mass exodus of people quitting and not returning to work, preliminary results show that people are following suit—trusting their employer and government—and getting vaccinated and returning to work to protect health and liberty,” said Robinson. “Recent surveys show that the public supports employers who work to protect society by requiring vaccination as a condition of entry to work. This is in sync with global efforts supporting governments to provide equitable vaccination access so that no one gets left behind.”

Robinson also referenced The USCIB Foundation’s initiative “Business Partners to CONVINCE”, or “BP2C”, designed to encourage and support employers worldwide in making the case for vaccination.

“I would like to take the opportunity to express special thanks for the support of IOE, whose role is and will be especially critical given its extensive range of employer organization members particularly as vaccines become more available in developing countries,” added Robinson. “Looking ahead, as the debate on credentials, passports, verification schemes and other ideas advance, we continue to support efforts to strategically engage business and government bodies to effectively communicate to build vaccine confidence and help galvanize support for re-normalizing a COVID-protected world. We are hopeful for a robust recovery in 2022.  Yet, if we do not work together to advance vaccine access, literacy, and uptake globally, we could face barriers for building back better. We could hit the wall and fall short of vaccination goals. Yet, I remain convinced we can find a way with business, employers and the private sector helping to forge the way forward with our efforts such as this event and in collaboration with our social partners.”

Lowry Discusses Role of WTO in Digital Revolution of Agriculture at WTO Public Forum Event

USCIB Senior Vice President for Innovation, Regulation and Trade Brian Lowry gave remarks at a World Trade Organization (WTO) Public Forum side-event on “Digital Services and Green Transition: A Promising Alliance that Needs an Incentive Multilateral Regulatory Framework.” The September 29th event, held in Geneva, was organized in partnership by USCIB, ICC France and Afed (the Association of French Large companies).

Lowry was joined by other prestigious speakers including the Permanent Representative of the Philippines to the WTO and Chairperson for the WTO Committee on Trade and Environment Ambassador Manuel Teehankee, Permanent Representative of Singapore to the WTO and Co-Chair of the Joint Initiative Statement (JIS) on e-commerce negotiating committee Ambassador Tan Hung Seng, the Deputy Director General of the WTO Jean-Marie Paugam and ICC’s Representative Director in Geneva Crispin Conroy.

Lowry discussed how digital tools can help mitigate risk and make farming more rewarding for all farmers—whether smallholders in developing countries or large-scale farms in the United States or Brazil.

“Digital farming can turn field, weather and agronomic data into insights that help address climate change and sustainable productivity,” said Lowry.

“However, this digital revolution does nothing if farmers do not have access to it. Whether it is the smallholder farmer in Africa or a large landowner in Argentina, the WTO can help by supporting market access for the technology and addressing data protection, the cross-boundary data interchange for both access and analysis, and the need for standards and disciplines for a carbon mechanism that promotes consistency and integrity,” added Lowry.

ICC Offers New Tool for SME’s to Measure Impacts of Business Operations on the Environment

The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) has done a soft launch of a new business tool on September 22, specifically tailored to Small-and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs) called SME360X.

SME360X is a SaaS (Software as a Service) platform co-created by ICC and GIST that measures the impacts of business operations on the environment. There are many external risks that threaten the survival of businesses everywhere. A company’s factory location that was relatively risk-free when it was set up decades ago could now be facing extreme risks from stressed water resources and severe shifts in weather patterns. A ban on single use plastics could threaten the survival of a company. Community protests could lead to the shutdown of an industrial operation. SME360X will help its users identify the environmental risks that are most material to their business.

SME360X enables users to:

  • Measure, economically value and manage business impacts on nature and the environment.
  • Compare environmental performance with regional and sectoral peers and competitors.
  • Receive a single, understandable environmental impact score (PIE Score).
  • Decide which improvement and abatement initiatives are most impactful.
  • Easily and affordably report on sustainability performance.
  • Obtain a Global Sustainability Certification from ICC.
  • Data belongs to you: highest level of security ensured using blockchain storage.

For more information on the tool and to obtain the tool, visit the ICC’s website.

USCIB at the UN General Assembly (UNGA76)

As another challenging United Nations General Assembly (UNGA76) got underway with a “hybrid” High-Level opening week, COVID-19 and challenges of climate change, biodiversity loss, energy access, food security and lack of adequate progress towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) loomed large. USCIB convened several events to highlight the essential role of business in inclusive multilateralism and, for the first time, USCIB Board Members and Trustees stepped into the spotlight and clearly state USCIB commitment from the top to deliver private sector expertise and innovation to international challenges.

UNGA76 set the stage for critical decision-point policy meetings in the next six-months: the OECD Council of Ministers, the Glasgow Climate Summit and the WTO Ministerial to name a few. These events brought together members, representatives of the UN system, governments and civil society to share ideas for productive ways to advance a sustainable and resilient recovery through collaborative public-private partnerships and strengthened enabling frameworks.

Below are events USCIB hosted with its global partners and members, indicative of continuous involvement of USCIB policy managers, senior leaders, and members at the UN in New York and in other important events on the margins of the GA, including the ICC SDG Business Forum, the Business Fights Poverty Global Goals Summit and several webinars organized by the International Organization of Employers (IOE).

USCIB Business Townhall at UN General Assembly Reaffirms Business’ Commitment to Tackling and Solving Global Challenges

September 20: On the margins of this week’s 76th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), USCIB partnered with the International Organization of Employers (IOE) and Business at OECD (BIAC) to organize a virtual discussion titled “Reinvigorating Inclusive Multilateralism: A Business Townhall at UNGA76.”  This meeting was among the first organized by business to comment on the just issued UN Secretary General’s Report and vision for international cooperation, “Our Common Agenda.”

The meeting was dedicated to the memory of John Ruggie, former UN Special Envoy for Business and Human Rights, who recently passed away.

Participants from business and industry, the UN, governments, and civil society tuned into the session, which highlighted the critical role of the private sector in being able to achieve ‘Our Common Agenda,’ and particularly of the U.S. private sector in aligning with global business to respond to global challenges, and provide solutions working through inclusive multilateralism.

Read Full story here.

 

USCIB Hosts A Conversation About the Future of Food

September 21: On the eve of the UN Food Systems and Nutrition Summit, USCIB convened a virtual event—The Future of Food: A Conversation— with experts and practitioners from across societal, scientific, value chain and innovation perspectives. The event highlighted the need for and successful examples of innovation across the food and agriculture industry, the roles and relevance of collaborative approaches to innovation, and how shared value and understanding can hold the key to future opportunities. Facilitated by USCIB SVP for Innovation, Regulation, and Trade Brian Lowry, the event was convened around the premise that in order to feed a growing population within planetary boundaries—considering amount of global climate emissions linked to agriculture and food—leaders must rethink how food, and especially protein, is made and sourced. Transforming the food system is not a solitary task; industry must come together and find new ways to collaborate and partner, and new alternatives must be created in a complementary manner.

Expert speakers included USCIB member Dr. Randal Giroux of Cargill, Chair of  USCIB’s Food and Agriculture Committee, as well as Valerio Nannini, Novozymes general manager for Novozymes Advanced Proteins Solutions. Other experts included Christine Gould, founder and president of Food for Thought, and The Good Food Institute Vice President, Corporate Engagement Caroline Bushnell.

Read full story here.

USCIB Joins Global Coalition on Sustainable Productivity Growth for Food Security and Resource Conservation

September 23: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres convened a Food Systems Summit during the UN General Assembly (UNGA76). The Summit launched bold new actions as part of the UN’s Decade of Action to achieve the SDGs. The goal of the Summit was to transform the way the world produces, consumes and thinks about food within the context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in order to meet the challenges of poverty, food security, malnutrition, population growth, climate change and natural resource degradation. During the Summit, the U.S. announced the formation of a global Coalition of Action on Sustainable Productivity Growth for Food Security and Resource Conservation (the SPG Coalition). The coalition will accelerate the transition to more sustainable food systems through agricultural productivity growth that optimizes sustainability across social, economic and environmental dimensions. The coalition will advance a holistic approach to productivity growth that considers impacts and tradeoffs among multiple objectives. USCIB has joined the SPG Coalition.

USCIB Meets With Ngozi to Enhance Synergies Between WTO and US Industry

U.S. Chamber of Commerce CEO and USCIB Trustee Suzanne Clark hosted a meeting of top U.S. trade association leaders on September 22 with World Trade Organization (WTO) Director General Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala in advance of the WTO ministerial meeting (MC12) in December. USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson attended for USCIB, accompanied by Alice Slayton Clark, director of Investment, Trade and China. The intimate gathering provided an opportunity to enhance synergies and understanding between the WTO and U.S. industry, a goal for the new director general.

Dr. Ngozi repeated her continued concerns about the viability of the WTO, and the need to produce concrete results at the MC12 on fishery subsidies, food security, trade and health/access to vaccines, as well as the joint statement initiatives on e-commerce and services domestic regulations. Robinson noted the multifaceted challenges facing vaccine access, and urged reduction of trade and regulatory barriers to distribution and administration as the most important approach. He emphasized a letter USCIB sent to Dr. Ngozi this summer on this issue, co-signed by the Chamber and BusinessEurope, among others.

In addition, Robinson stressed USCIB interest in revitalizing and expanding negotiations on an environmental goods agreement that were sidelined in 2016 largely over concerns about the definition of products to be included. Other USCIB priorities were also raised during the meeting, including: concerns about industrial subsidies, dispute settlement procedures, and special and differential treatment; and support for the science of agricultural biotechnology and extension of the e-commerce moratorium. There was a good deal of consensus on many of these key issues among the participants.

Robinson also expressed support for the initiatives to work with the WTO in improving the global trading system that are underway in the three global business organizations with which USCIB is affiliated, International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), International Organization of Employers (IOE) and Business at OECD (BIAC).

USCIB’s member companies rely on the WTO as the multilateral forum for resolving trade disputes and expanding market access for selling goods and services overseas. It urges the Biden Administration to take a leadership role at the MC12 in reforming and updating the WTO so it can remain a viable source for trade adjudication and liberalization in the decades to come.

USCIB Joins Global Coalition on Sustainable Productivity Growth for Food Security and Resource Conservation

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres convened a Food Systems Summit during the UN General Assembly (UNGA76) on September 23. The Summit launched bold new actions as part of the UN’s Decade of Action to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). According to USCIB Senior Vice President Brian Lowry, the goal of the Food Systems Summit was to transform the way the world produces, consumes and thinks about food within the context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in order to meet the challenges of poverty, food security, malnutrition, population growth, climate change and natural resource degradation.

The U.S. government supported the UN Food Systems Summit and participated through the U.S. Department of Agriculture, led by Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. Recognizing that sustainable productivity growth and climate-smart agriculture are essential to sustainable food systems, the United States announced the formation of a global Coalition of Action on Sustainable Productivity Growth for Food Security and Resource Conservation (the SPG Coalition). The coalition will accelerate the transition to more sustainable food systems through agricultural productivity growth that optimizes sustainability across social, economic and environmental dimensions. The coalition will advance a holistic approach to productivity growth that considers impacts and tradeoffs among multiple objectives. USCIB is part of the SPG Coalition.

“USCIB proudly joins an influential group of companies and industry associations such as the Agricultural Retailers Association, the U.S. Dairy Export Council and countries including the United States, Australia, Brazil, non-governmental organizations, and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to become part of the SPG Coalition to achieve a common goal of a sustainable food system and resource conservation and help combat challenges such as food security,” said Lowry. “We look forward to working with the United States, the FAO, and other stakeholders on this critical effort for future generations.”

USCIB Member HP Presents at WTO Symposium on Information Technology Agreement

The World Trade Organization (WTO) hosted a two-day workshop in mid-September celebrating trade liberalization under the Information Technology Agreement titled “ITA Symposium: 25th Anniversary of the Information Technology Agreement.” WTO Director General Dr. Ngozi Okojo-Iweala opened the conference, which explored the benefits of ICT in combatting COVID-19 and bridging the digital divide, as well as the latest advances in technology and justifications for a new, third, round of ITA expansion.

Given the topic of the Symposium, USCIB was pleased to secure a speaking role for member company HP, Inc. Karen Bland, HP’s Head of Global Trade, presented on “3D Printing: A Vital Technology for Economic Development and Sustainability,” where she outlined the economic benefits of 3D printing, as well as the innovative technology’s contributions to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs). Additionally, HP highlighted how it leveraged 3D printing to address extreme supply chain disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic by partnering with more than ninety-two global digital manufacturing companies to deliver millions of 3D printed items including CPAP components, nasal swabs and face shields.

“The ITA must keep pace with technological advances in ICT.  HP encourages coverage of 3D printers and parts as a critical printing innovation in any future ITA expansion,” commented Bland.

USCIB is part of an industry coalition led by the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) working with the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative to advance a new expansion of the ITA (ITA-3).  During the conference SIA President John Neuffer addressed “How a Third ITA Expansion Would Benefit Developed and Developing Nations Alike While Advancing Climate, Health, and Sustainability Goals,” with Stephen Ezell from the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation releasing a comprehensive report on How an Information Technology Agreement 3.0 Would Bolster Economic Growth and Opportunity, including a focus on potential benefits to developing countries. The report includes a list of products proposed to be included in an ITA 3, including many submissions from USCIB members.

“USCIB supports ITA expansion, increased geographic participation, and further efforts to provide duty free treatment to critical ICT products which have become more important in the COVID environment,” said USCIB Director, Investment, Trade and China Alice Slayton Clark. Clark is leading the ITA expansion effort at USCIB, with USCIB Director, Customs and Trade Facilitation Megan Giblin as customs advisor.

USCIB Applauds Launch of Trade and Technology Council (TTC), Urges Timely Conclusion of New Privacy Shield Framework

Washington D.C., September 21, 2021—The U.S. Council for International Business (USCIB), a cross-sectoral trade association of companies active in transatlantic business, welcomes the cooperative spirit underlying the U.S.-EU Trade and Technology Council (TTC), which will be formally launched on September 29 in Pittsburgh, PA.

The TTC’s aims to grow bilateral trade and investment, strengthen global cooperation on technology and digital issues, boost innovation, collaborate on supply chain resilience, and realize greater regulatory interoperability, among other goals set forth in the July 15 EU-U.S. Summit communique, all of which are critical to fully reaping the economic and social welfare benefits of digital transformation.

Achieving the TTC goals, however, will be difficult unless a new agreement establishing a durable legal basis and privacy protections for transatlantic data flows is concluded as soon as possible. This accord is essential to the U.S.-EU economic and diplomatic partnerships and, importantly, will enable innumerable gains to be realized under the TTC process.

As USCIB and some twenty-two U.S. and EU business groups underscored in a July 14 letter to U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and European Commissioner for Justice Didier Reynders, thousands of EU and U.S. companies continue to be harmed by the resulting legal uncertainty for transatlantic data transfers stemming from EU Court of Justice invalidation of Privacy Shield Framework in July 2020. Differing interpretations of the Court ruling risk triggering additional compliance and operational challenges as well as limit opportunities for EU businesses to grow and innovate internationally.

USCIB therefore urges timely conclusion of a sustainable framework for secure transatlantic data flows in the coming weeks. This will provide the necessary foundation upon which the TTC can effectively realize its goals, while ensuring that U.S. and EU companies active in the transatlantic commercial space can thrive again. We look forward to positive news from the U.S. and European Commission soon.

About USCIB

USCIB promotes open markets, competitiveness and innovation, sustainable development, and corporate responsibility, supported by international engagement and regulatory coherence. Its members include U.S.-based global companies and professional services firms from every sector of our economy, with operations in every region of the world. As the U.S. affiliate of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), the International Organization of Employers (IOE) and Business at OECD (BIAC), USCIB provides business views to policy makers and regulatory authorities worldwide and works to facilitate international trade and investment. More at www.uscib.org

USCIB Comments on China’s Compliance With Its WTO Commitments

USCIB submitted comments September 15 in response to the U.S. Trade Representatives request for input into China’s compliance with its World Trade Organization (WTO) commitments. The comments covered a wide variety of topics with a focus on intellectual property enforcement, regulation, transparency and standards.

According to USCIB Director for Investment, Trade and China Alice Slayton Clark, USCIB members have significant concerns regarding China’s fulfillment of its WTO obligations in a variety of sectors but also regarding unilateral restrictions and bilateral commitments, like the Phase One trade agreement, that remain unfulfilled.

USCIB members also remain concerned about U.S. tariffs and retaliatory measures imposed as a result of the U.S. Section 301 investigation into China’s forced technology transfer, intellectual property, and innovation policies. The submission stated: While the Phase One deal partially addresses some of these tariffs, much more must be done to restore the ability of U.S. business to compete effectively in the global marketplace. It is essential that the United States develop a robust strategy that does not only rely on the use of punitive tariffs to achieve its objectives with China. Tariffs alone have not changed China’s economic policies to date and, ultimately, tariffs also increase costs for U.S. consumers and businesses.

USCIB urges both countries to utilize, in addition to the WTO, the full range of formal multilateral fora, including Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Forum and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), to work toward improved commercial relations. Plurilateral dialogues that include U.S.-friendly jurisdictions such as the European Union, Canada or Australia should also be considered.

“China’s importance in the global economy creates a strong incentive to find ways to promote U.S. interests in a rules-based international trading order; to work with allies to address common challenges with respect to China; and to work together with China to address our common challenges and responsibilities,” said Clark.