Temperatures Soared in Geneva and So Did the WTO!

Washington D.C., June 17, 2022—Despite a shaky start, the WTO negotiators delivered a historic trade deal this morning. After hours of negotiations, the 164-country organization adopted the “Geneva Package” with commitments on some very difficult issues, including pandemic response, intellectual property, fisheries, food security, electronic commerce and institutional reform.

For many, this Ministerial was about the continued viability of the WTO. Recent struggles caused by increased protectionism and previous Ministerial Conferences that created few – if any – outcomes, raised serious questions about the rules-based trading system that grew out of the GATT in 1995. Concerns have ranged from relevance to functionality to value.

The WTO adoption of a ministerial decision to waive intellectual property rights on COVID-19 vaccines raises serious questions and presents a number of risks. This waiver under the WTO TRIPs Agreement will not solve vaccine access issues but, rather, it brings dangerous implications on incentives for innovation for future health challenges and future pandemic preparedness and response.  As disappointing and counter-productive as this decision is, business continues to work to advance vaccine literacy and fight COVID-19.

The Ministerial Statement on WTO Reform has charted a path forward for the trade body that is expected to address longstanding concerns and set a process for discussions on how the WTO can be reformed to be fit for purpose.

The “Geneva Package” covers a range of topics. A group of Ministerial Declarations was adopted on WTO response to emergencies covering food insecurity; export prohibitions on World Food Programme food purchases; and WTO pandemic response and preparedness.

A partial deal to curb fishing subsidies was reached; however, it fell short of a fuller agreement that has been under negotiation for more than 20 years. The agreement addresses rules to prohibit subsidies for illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, while action on subsidies for fuel, ship construction and other areas was left unresolved.

Negotiators wrestled to address divergent views on the continuation of a moratorium on customs duties on electronic transmissions that has been in place since 1998 but was set to expire at the end of the ministerial. A handful of countries challenged the benefits of the digital economy for the developing world, seeking to end the moratorium, gain policy space to address the digital divide and collect needed customs revenues. Ultimately, delegates agreed to an extension of the moratorium with a commitment to study development impacts and revisit the issue at the next Ministerial Conference.

“USCIB congratulates WTO Director General Ngozi and all participants in MC12 for proving that multilateralism is alive and still functional in Geneva,” said Brian Lowry, USCIB Senior Vice President, who is reporting from Geneva at the ministerial meeting as an NGO delegate.

Several concerns about agriculture went without resolution. “The lack of a declaration on these concerns was a disappointment to some but the overall success of MC12 is noteworthy,” said Lowry.

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. USCIB is the U.S. affiliate of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), the International Organization of Employers (IOE) and Business at OECD. More at www.uscib.org.

USCIB Calls on International Community to Fight for Human Rights of LGBTQI+ Individuals

June 1, 2022, New York, NY — On occasion of Pride Month this month, the United States Council for International Business (USCIB) re-emphasizes its committment to fight for LGBTQI+ equality and inclusion throughout the year. As stated in Article 1 of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights, “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” USCIB and its members are committed to treating all individuals with dignity, respect and equity and call on the international community to fight for the human rights of LGBTQI+ individuals around the world.

In her statement for Pride Month, United States Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield pointed out that, “The struggle to end violence, discrimination, criminalization, and stigma against LGBTQI+ persons is a global challenge that deserves a global response. LGBTQI+ status or conduct is still criminalized in more than 70 countries or territories, and many individuals continue to face discrimination, harassment, and violence at work, at school and in public accommodations.”

According to the United Nations’ Global Campaign against Homophobia and Transphobia, more than a third of the world’s countries criminalize consensual, loving, same-sex relationships, entrenching prejudice and putting millions of people at risk of blackmail, arrest and imprisonment. In July 2013, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) launched UN Free & Equal – an unprecedented global UN public information campaign aimed at promoting equal rights and fair treatment of LGBTI people.

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 Joins Global Trade and Industry in Statement to Urge WTO to Renew Moratorium on Customs Duties on Electronic Transmissions

May 17, 2022, New York, NY — The United States Council for International Business (USCIB) joined today nearly 100 other global trade and industry associations to urge WTO members to renew the Moratorium on Customs Duties on Electronic Transmissions at the 12th WTO Ministerial Conference in June.

According to the statement, allowing the Moratorium to expire would be a historic setback for the WTO, representing an unprecedented termination of a multilateral agreement in place nearly since the WTO’s inception – an agreement that has allowed the digital economy to take root and grow. All WTO members have a stake in the organization’s continued institutional credibility and resilience, as well as its relevance at a time of unprecedented digital transformation.

Continuation of the Moratorium is critical to the COVID-19 recovery. As detailed by the United Nations, the World Bank, the OECD, and many other organizations, the cross-border exchange of knowledge, technical know-how, and scientific and commercial information across transnational IT networks, as well as access to digital tools and global market opportunities have helped sustain economies, expand education, and raise global living standards.

Continuation of the Moratorium is also important to supply chain resilience for manufacturing and services industries in the COVID-19 era. Manufacturers – both large and small, and across a range of industrial sectors – rely on the constant flow of research, design, and process data and software to enable their production flows and supply chains for critical products.

The Moratorium is particularly beneficial to Micro, Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (MSMEs), whose ability to access and leverage digital tools has allowed them to stay in business amidst physical restrictions and lockdowns.

Failure to renew the Moratorium will jeopardize these benefits, as customs restrictions that interrupt cross-border access to knowledge and digital tools will harm MSMEs, the global supply chain, and COVID-19 recovery – increasing digital fragmentation. As UNCTAD has explained, such fragmentation “reduces market opportunities for domestic MSMEs to reach worldwide markets, [and] … reduces opportunities for digital innovation, including various missed opportunities for inclusive development that can be facilitated by engaging in data-sharing through strong international cooperation…. [M]ost small, developing economies will lose opportunities for raising their digital competitiveness.”

The rest of the statement can be found here.

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 Issues ATA Carnet Advisory on Brazil; Brazil to Terminate Carnet as of January 1

New York, N.Y., December 22, 2021 — As the National Guaranteeing and Issuing Association (NGA and IA) for ATA Carnet in the United States, the United States Council for International Business (USCIB) is issuing the following guidance for holders (users) of U.S. ATA Carnets to Brazil (BR) or “BR ATA Carnets” for entry into the United States.

As of January 1, 2022, Brazilian customs will terminate their ATA Carnet operations.

Brazil will no longer issue or accept ATA Carnets. The National Confederation of Industry (CNI) initially ended its role as the sole NGA role in Brazil in June 2021 and was subsequently extended to December 31, 2021. During this time, Brazil Customs went through a solicitation process for a new NGA and IA, but the process conducted on September 17 and November 5, 2021, was not successful. At this time, Brazil has not been able to appoint a new entity to guarantee and issue Carnets.

As a result, U.S issued ATA Carnets currently in circulation should not be used for entry into Brazil on or after January 1, 2022. Likewise, ATA Carnets issued by Brazil for entry into the United States will be rejected by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

Details of this announcement can be found at the Brazilian Customs’ website.

“Specific questions or assistance on U.S. ATA Carnets with regards to this announcement should be directed to our authorized service providers, Boomerang Carnets and Roanoke Insurance Group,” advised USCIB Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Declan Daly.

ATA Carnets are honored in over eighty customs countries and territories and can be used for multiple trips during a one-year period. The global ATA Carnet system is overseen by the Paris-based World Chamber Federation of the International Chamber of Commerce. USCIB administers the Carnet system in the United States.

More on USCIB’s Trade Services.

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.

Vietnam to Join Global “Merchandise Passport” System in Spring 2022

New York, N.Y., December 20, 2021 — Vietnam is set to become the seventy-ninth member country to accept ATA Carnets for the temporary, duty-and tax-free importation of various types of goods, beginning May 1, 2022, according to the United States Council for International Business (USCIB), which administers the ATA system in the United States.

ATA Carnets are critical tools of trade facilitation known as the “merchandise passport” or “passport for goods” that simplify customs procedures for the temporary movement of goods and permit goods to enter a party to the System duty and are tax free for up to one-year. They provide users with many benefits, including being easy to use and eliminate surprises at the border; one document allows many country visits during a year of validity; streamline processes at border crossings; and they save time and money (duties & taxes).

ATA Carnets cover import of professional equipment, commercial samples and items for display at exhibitions and fairs. When countries join the ATA system they determine their scope of coverage. As of May 1, Vietnam will allow ATA Carnet covering only exhibitions and fairs (E&F).

The worldwide ATA Carnet system is overseen by the World Customs Organization (WCO) and the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) – World Chamber Federation (WCF). USCIB is the sole U.S. National Guaranteeing and Issuing Association for ATA Carnets.

“Vietnam has an export market of nearly ten billion dollars,” said USCIB Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Declan Daly, who oversees USCIB’s ATA Carnet operations. “ATA Carnets are tools of export promotion as well. They will allow American and other foreign companies to explore the market and conduct business deals with the country, while enabling Vietnamese businesses easier access and exploration to the U.S. and other global markets.”

The ATA System is in place in over eighty-five countries and territories and provides duty-free and tax-free imports on goods that will be re-exported within twelve months.

Please visit the Vietnam ATA Carnet page for more info.

 

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

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

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 Statement on World Day Against Child Labor

New York N.Y., June 10, 2021 — On the World Day Against Child Labor, the U.S. Council for International Business (USCIB) joins the chorus of global voices calling for elimination of child labor. This issue is one of profound concern for the business community and we applaud the robust efforts of our corporate members to help tackle the scourge of exploitative child labor. As the U.S. business representative to the International Labour Organization (ILO), USCIB has consistently advocated for international action to promote decent work and address the enforcement and implementation gaps that exacerbate vulnerabilities.

Ahead of World Day Against Child Labor on June 12, the ILO and UNICEF released new global estimates on child labor. USCIB notes with great concern the increase of children in child labor for the first time in twenty-years and we know that the COVID-19 pandemic presents an ongoing risk to millions more children.

Despite universal ratification of ILO Convention 182 on the Worst Forms of Child Labor, there remains an unacceptable 160 million children in child labor, seventy-nine million of which are in hazardous work. One child is too many. Therefore, the private sector calls on governments to recommit to and invest in good governance, promulgation of sound national labor laws, and effective enforcement. USCIB stands ready to partner with governments, academia, civil society and the public to reinvigorate efforts to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 8 (SDG-8) to “promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all,” with particular attention to Target 8.7 to end all forms of child labor by 2025.

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, 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 at www.uscib.org.

USCIB Supports New Public Education Initiative to Combat Black Market Trade

Washington D.C., June 08, 2021—USCIB joined United to Safeguard America from Illegal Trade (USA-IT) in launching a new public education initiative designed to provide local officials, law enforcement, and thought leaders with information and training programs to help tackle illegal trade and raise public awareness of the depth of the problem as well as the severe consequences inflicted on states and municipalities by black market profiteers.

The campaign will run through 2021 across eight states facing critical illegal trade issues: Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Texas.

The black market is a $509 billion a year business, and it’s growing. Criminals get rich from illegal trade by robbing revenues meant to provide essential services to Americans. Instead of helping taxpayers, that money is used to fund those who illegally traffic in drugs, weapons, and even people. These groups exploit governments and citizens, manipulate financial systems, spur corruption, and cultivate instability and violence that threaten our communities.

No one government or single industry can address this complex problem on its own. Tackling illegal trade requires cooperation and public-private partnerships and fully utilizing existing expertise, information sharing, innovative solutions, and evolving technologies. Public actors, the private sector, and civil society alike all have a role to play.

For more information about USA-IT’s efforts to combat illegal trade, and to get involved, visit USAIT.org.

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, 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 at www.uscib.org.

About USA-IT

United to Safeguard America from Illegal Trade (USA-IT) is a public and private sector partnership protecting Americans’ security and prosperity from black market criminals.

Contacts

Sam Dashiell
T. +1 (202) 480 1617
E. contact@USAIT.org

Kira Yevtukhova
T. +1 (202) 617 3160
E. kyevtukhova@uscib.org