World Intellectual Property Organization, USCIB Hold Virtual Dialogue

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and USCIB held a virtual dialogue on July 29 with over twenty participants, including USCIB members and WIPO Assistant Directors General Marco Aleman and Edward Kwakwa.

According to USCIB Senior Vice President for Innovation, Regulation, and Trade Brian Lowry, the dialogue covered a range of topics of interest to USCIB members. Specifically, WIPO leaders engaged on the following: The Hague System for the International Registration of Industrial Designs; Intellectual Property (IP) and Innovation Ecosystem Sector; WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center; Building Respect for Intellectual Property; WIPO’s Department for Economics and Data Analytics; WIPO GREEN; Geneva Intellectual Property Discussions

“It was clear from the increased activity at WIPO in the past 18 months that WIPO is very much alive and functional, even in these most difficult times,” said Lowry.

“In addition to the wealth of information provided, the Dialogue provided members with new opportunities to advance their business objectives with support from WIPO programs, initiatives, and personnel. WIPO leadership specifically requested members to contact them with their specific interests for further engagements to advance projects and outcomes, as well as to identify opportunities to help advance the youth and IP initiative which was discussed briefly,” he added.

USCIB Meets With New OECD Secretary General Cormann on His First Official DC Visit

L-R: Kennedy, Robinson, SG Cormann, Johnston meet in the OECD Washington DC office in July 2021

USCIB members joined a first meeting and dialogue with OECD Secretary General Mathias Cormann, hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on July 21 in Washington DC. USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson, and Citi Managing Director and Business at OECD (BIAC) Chair Charles R. Johnston, led the discussion, along with USCIB Board Member and Executive Vice President for International Affairs at the Chamber Myron Brilliant.

As the U.S. affiliate of and representative to BIAC, the official business spokes-organization to the OECD, USCIB values and engages with OECD on a wide range of cross-cutting issues. In light of the U.S. chairmanship of this year’s OECD Ministerial Council Meeting on October 5–6 in Paris, the meeting offered USCIB Committee Chairs and other active member representatives the opportunity to highlight their priorities for OECD’s policy recommendations.

SG Cormann described his leadership priorities for OECD, which center around restoring economic growth and recovery, including through multilateral trade. He highlighted the thought leadership role of the OECD in G7 and G20 discussions of a global corporate minimum tax rate. He also discussed the potential for OECD to contribute to a possible similar global conversation on carbon pricing and carbon border adjustment. Other topics covered included responsible business conduct; tackling illicit trade; and innovation and digital economy.

In his closing remarks, Robinson stated, “Imagine what could be accomplished if all multilateral institutions followed the OECD’s consultative model to work with business and co-create solutions to urgent challenges!”

Robinson thanked Cormann, and said that USCIB and the American business community are dedicated to working with OECD through BIAC to show the way through and past the pandemic on fundamentals like regulatory coherence and combatting corruption, as well as on emerging technologies and issues.

USCIB Praises US Engagement But Urges More Ambitious WTO Negotiation on Services Domestic Regulations

USCIB submitted a letter to the Biden administration lauding its recent decision to engage in World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations to facilitate trade in services, but urging a more ambitious outcome.

A plurilateral negotiation involving sixty-four nations, the Joint Statement Initiative (JSI) on Services Domestic Regulations (SDR) seeks to streamline and make more transparent domestic regulations governing services covered under the 1995 WTO General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS). This would largely target rules that authorize the supply of services such as licensing and qualification requirements and procedures, as well as technical standards relating to trade.

The August 2 letter, co-signed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and National Foreign Trade Counsel, requests U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai to press like-minded nations to maximize the agreement’s potential by extending the proposed disciplines on regulations to a broader set of services sectors.

“While the JSI would be meaningful as currently considered, it would be far more beneficial to extend the disciplines beyond the sectors under GATS, which are uneven in coverage and out of date,” said USCIB Director for Investment, Trade and China Alice Slayton Clark.

Services trade comprises nearly half of global trade in value-added terms and has grown at twice the rate of merchandise trade over the past decade. Yet it costs double to trade in services compared to goods. According to the letter: “streamlining and updating regulatory regimes in the broadest array of services sectors will go far in correcting this inequity.” It would also contribute to global economic recovery, providing a boost to a sector disproportionately harmed by pandemic shutdowns and travel restrictions.

A copy of the letter is available here.

Business Partners to CONVINCE Supports Global Workplace Vaccine Requirements

New York, N.Y., August 02, 2021—Business Partners to CONVINCE (BP2C), a global communication and education initiative to promote COVID-19 vaccine acceptance among private sector employers and employees, released a statement commending the Biden administration’s announcement on July 29 that it will require all federal employees to attest their vaccination status or be subject to masking, social distancing and COVID-19 testing requirements.

The following statement was made by Scott Ratzan MD, executive director of Business Partners to CONVINCE, an initiative of The USCIB Foundation:

“As COVID-19 vaccination rates wane for a variety of reasons, the COVID delta variant is spreading globally. With vaccination as our principal hope to stem the pandemic, we are pleased by the Biden administration’s decision to require federal employees and onsite contractors to get safe and effective vaccines. We encourage all eligible Americans to get fully vaccinated. We welcome opportunities to work with government, business and civil society to help achieve the vaccination levels for community immunity.

“We call on BP2C’s vast global network, which consists of organizations such as the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), the International Organization of Employers (IOE), Business at OECD (BIAC), Vaccines Europe, and the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) to support their local governments across Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, North and South America in communication and education initiatives around COVID-19 vaccines. These vaccines have been proven to be safe and effective and the best way forward out of this pandemic and towards economic recovery.

“We applaud BP2C steering team partner the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) as well as USCIB members Facebook, Google, The Walt Disney Company, Walmart and Uber that have announced new requirements to encourage vaccinations among their workers and ensure a safe workplace. We encourage other companies to do the same and we stand ready to offer resources and communications strategies to employers about vaccine literacy.”

ABOUT BUSINESS PARTNERS TO CONVINCE: The United States Council for International Business (USCIB), The USCIB Foundation, and Business Partners for Sustainable Development (BPSD) have launched Business Partners to CONVINCE, a global communication and education initiative to promote COVID-19 vaccine acceptance among private sector employers and employees. The new partnership will play an integral role in a broader, global CONVINCE (COVID-19 New Vaccine Information, Communication, and Engagement) campaign to advance vaccine literacy and help ensure a strong and swift recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic through widespread acceptance of safe, effective and accessible vaccines.

ABOUT THE USCIB FOUNDATION: The USCIB Foundation is the research and educational arm of the United States Council for International Business (USCIB). The principal purpose of the Foundation is to carry out research and educational activities designed to promote and advance the benefits of a free-market economy and to demonstrate and document the role of the corporate private sector in economic growth and social development.

USCIB Releases Statement Recognizing World Day Against Trafficking in Persons

New York, N.Y., July 30, 2021—The United States Council for International Business (USCIB) joins the global community in recognizing World Day Against Trafficking in Persons and released the following statement:

We are proud of the work our corporate members do to engage in the fight against trafficking, including initiatives to train employees to spot signs of human trafficking and conducting thorough human rights due diligence to mitigate instances of forced labor in their supply chains. We welcome this year’s theme, “Victims’ Voices Lead the Way,” and are committed to centering the needs of victims and survivors on the road away from exploitation. That those who are trafficked often experience revictimization and stigmatization throughout their post-rescue experiences is a tragic and unacceptable compounding of abuse.

Available statistics on human trafficking reveal a devastating and unacceptable state of human rights abuse that implicates every country. An estimated 24.9 million people worldwide are victims of trafficking. Women and girls are particularly vulnerable, making up forty-six percent and ninteen percent of victims respectively, and one in three victims detected is a child. A study released by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) illustrates the devastating impact of COVID-19 on victims and survivors of human trafficking and highlights the increased targeting and exploitation of children during the course of the pandemic.

USCIB and our members continue to take decisive action in the fight against human trafficking. The private sector continues to design and implement innovative programs to root out this type of abuse in supply chains. USCIB is a member of the ILO Global Business Network on Forced Labour (GBNFL). Operating across all sectors and geographies, ILO GBNFL members and partners work to engage smaller enterprises, develop resources and tools and devise local solutions that help shape national frameworks to create lasting change.

Governments must do their part in enacting labor laws that meet international standards, investing in capacity building to implement, monitor and remediate abuses and working with stakeholders to take preventative action. Many governments have already taken critical actions against trafficking, as evidenced in the U.S. Department of Labor’s Trafficking in Persons Report. 

USCIB and our members stand ready to work with civil society, academics, governments and others in the fight against human trafficking. We are committed to ensuring victims and survivors are treated with dignity and respect and given opportunities in their post-rescue journeys. 

Please see resources:

ILO’s Forced labour, modern slavery and human trafficking

United Nations Human Trafficking

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.

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

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

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

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

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

Lowry Serves as Witness at Hearing on Forced Labor in Supply Chains

USCIB Senior Vice President for Innovation, Regulation and Trade Brian Lowry served as a witness during the House Ways and Means (HWM) Trade Subcommittee Hearing addressing, “The Global Challenge of Forced Labor in Supply Chains: Strengthening Enforcement and Protecting Workers” on July 21.

According to Congressman Earl Blumenauer, who served as chair, the hearing was held “to shine a light on some of these countries, regions and sectors, to consider U.S. enforcement efforts, and to discuss ways we can work with our trading partners to cooperate on eradicating forced labor in our supply chains.”

At the center of Lowry’s testimony were proposed operational changes to U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) Withhold Release Order (WRO) process. USCIB’s proposed multi-step process, includes CBP providing companies with information about allegations earlier in the WRO process, providing companies sixty-days to respond with information critical to the investigation and instituting a time-limited process. The proposal seeks to improve CBP’s forced labor enforcement process by increasing transparency and encouraging greater collaboration with the trade community.

“Greater transparency by Customs upon initiation of an investigation and prior to the issuance of a withhold release order would enable the business community to partner with Customs to address forced labor and prevent the importation of prohibited goods,” stated Lowry.

“We strongly believe that Customs must modernize, update and align its regulations, policies and procedures to address the evolving threat of forced labor in supply chains in partnership with the business community,” he continued.

In conclusion Lowry reiterated, “Our proposed process will create a reasonable, transparent and – most importantly – effective system for combatting forced labor in supply chains.

Chairman Blumenauer demonstrated his interest in USCIB’s viewpoint by directing his first question to Lowry, and later stating, “Mr. Lowry, I look forward to working with you refining some of this going forward.”  The Chairman concluded the hearing, expressing his view that this “was just one of the best hearings I’ve been privileged to participate in. I appreciate what our witnesses do and appreciate the engagement of our members making it such a constructive effort.”

Other witnesses included Neha Misra, global lead, Migration and Human Trafficking, Solidarity Center; Jennifer Rosenbaum, executive director, Global Labor Justice-International Labor Rights Forum; Charity Ryerson, executive director, Corporate Accountability Lab and Genevieve LeBaron, professor of politics, University of Sheffield.

A recording of the full hearing can be found here.

USCIB Letter Urges Agreement on EU-US Personal Data Flows

USCIB submitted a letter to both the U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo and the European Commissioner for Justice Didier Reynders regarding the transatlantic agreement on EU-U.S. personal data flows.

The July 14 letter, signed by a variety of sectors across the transatlantic business community, urged a swift agreement for a new, strengthened EU-U.S. framework.

The letter noted: “we were encouraged by the recent EU-U.S. Summit commitment to ‘work together to ensure safe, secure, and trusted cross-border data flows that protect consumers and enhance privacy protections, while enabling Transatlantic commerce’ and to ‘strengthen legal certainty in Transatlantic flows of personal data.’”

According to the letter, thousands of European and American companies continue to be impacted by the EU’s Court of Justice judgement that invalidated the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield Framework just over a year ago.

“USCIB’s ICT Policy Committee will continue to monitor the Privacy Shield negotiations closely and engage with appropriate U.S. Government officials given the importance of a new sustainable transfer framework agreement to reinvigorating both U.S. and EU economic and business interests,” said Barbara Wanner, USCIB vice president for ICT policy.

USCIB Member Appointed to Leadership Role in ICC Commission on Customs and Trade Facilitation

John Bescec, Microsoft

The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) Commission on Customs and Trade Facilitation has announced that Microsoft’s John Bescec has been appointed as new chair of the commission. Bescec is currently a vice chair of the USCIB Customs and Trade Facilitation Committee (CTFC) and a director of Customs and Trade Affairs at Microsoft.

“We are delighted to advise that ICC Secretary General John W.H. Denton has appointed new officers of the ICC Commission on Customs and Trade Facilitation,” said ICC Global Policy Director Andrew Wilson. “Together with the ICC HQ team, the officers will form a new Steering Group for the Commission to guide our work to tackle customs frictions globally — including our engagement with the World Customs Organization.”

Bescec, who is based in Canada and represents Microsoft at both USCIB and ICC – Canada, was jointly nominated for the position by USCIB and ICC-Canada. He will be stepping down as vice chair of the USCIB Committee to focus his efforts on the ICC Commission.

USCIB thanks Bescec for his leadership commitments and looks forward to actively working with him and the newly appointed ICC Commission Vice Chairs, who include Irina Kitiashvili, chief operating officer, IDS Borjomi Beverages (Georgia), Mahmut Kobal, group head of customs and international trade, Beiersdorf (Germany), Karen Poujade, group customs director, Alstom (France), Anil Rajput, senior vice president of corporate affairs, ITC Ltd (India), Alejandro Terzián, head of the Center of Excellence for International Trade and Customs Compliance, Bayer LATAM (Argentina).

“Working with the new leadership group, we will take the opportunity to assess specific areas of engagement in the coming weeks — including the status and mandates of existing working groups within the Commission’s remit,” added Wilson.

WTO and UN Host Global Dialogue on Trade and Food

USCIB Senior Vice President, Innovation, Regulation, and Trade Brian Lowry participated in an outreach event on July 6 convened by the World Trade Organization (WTO) Secretariat in collaboration with the United Nations Food Systems Summit.

The Global Dialogue on Trade; Trade, An Essential Piece of the of the Food Systems Puzzle was curated by Dr. David Nabarro and convened to encourage an informal dialogue and exchange of views amongst invited participants, representing a broad range of stakeholders from government, civil society, business, farmers, academia and more.

A high-level opening plenary with WTO Director General Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Special Envoy of the United Nations Food Systems Summit Dr. Alice Kalibata, was followed by discussions in ten breakout sessions amongst invited participants under Chatham House rules. Lowry participated in breakout discussion on Realizing the Human Right to Food, which was facilitated by Michael Fakhri, UN special rapporteur on the Right to Food. Other sessions focused on topics such as, international trade in food in times of crisis, global agricultural value chains, nutrition security, ensuring sustainable food trade and food safety.

According to Lowry, no reports or outcomes will emerge from the discussions in the breakout rooms. A high-level closing plenary presented in broad terms some of the subjects discussed in the breakout sessions and included closing remarks by WTO Deputy Director General Jean-Marie Paugam.