During the months of December 2016 – January 2017, USCIB Staff met with Everett Eissenstat of the Senate Finance Committee, Elif Eroglu of U.S. CBP, released a U.S. Competitiveness Agenda for 2017, contributed to B20 Task Forces on Trade and Digitalization Policy, participated in BIAC Tax meetings in China, facilitated a Dialogue on U.S.-China Cybersecurity, and much more. Below are summaries of these and other highlights from the activities of USCIB in Washington, D.C. over the last two months. If you have any questions or comments, or want more information on a specific topic, please contact any of the staff members listed at the end of this brief.
Table of Contents:
- Customs and Trade Facilitation – Reducing Barriers and Costs from Customs and Border Control Practices
- Corporate Responsibility – Developing Standards and Principles, Increasing Awareness of Positive Business Impact
- Environment – Promoting appropriate environmental protection and energy security integrated with open trade, investment and economic growth.
Trade and Investment – Opening Global Markets for Trade and Investment
- USCIB Trade and Investment Committee Meets with Everett Eissenstat, Senate Finance: On December 8, 2016, at the Citigroup offices in Washington, D.C., the USCIB Trade and Investment Committee met with Everett Eissenstat, Chief International Trade Counsel for the Senate Finance Committee. Everett provided an off-the-record briefing on his expectations for the Senate trade work in 2017, after which members posed questions on NAFTA, China, the WTO, and the necessity of protecting our gains from existing trade agreements and policies. Before hearing from Everett, members exchanged views on the draft USCIB America Competitiveness Agenda 2017 and suggested several edits to the document. Other topics discussed at the meeting included reports out from the BIAC and OECD Trade and Investment Committee meetings, the ICC Trade Committee meeting in Geneva at the end of September, and the latest draft recommendations from the Germany B20 Trade and Investment Task Force.
- USCIB American Competitiveness Agenda 2017 Outlines Priorities for New Administration: On January 23, 2017, USCIB released its American Competitiveness Agenda 2017, which stresses the importance of U.S. engagement and leadership in creating and enforcing rules for international trade and investment. Essential to U.S. leadership will be continuing to work with our global partners on trade and investment agreements that will establish a level playing field for U.S. business while ensuring that open trade and investment delivers the widest benefit to the most people here at home. It sets out a Seven-Point Plan to serve as a framework for continuing to open markets and improve U.S. competitiveness.
- USCIB Meets with Dawn Shackleford, USTR, on WTO and OECD 2017 Work: On January 24, 2017, Rob Mulligan, USCIB Senior Vice President Policy and Government Affairs, Shaun Donnelly, Vice President for Investment and Financial Services, and Eva Hampl, Director for Investment, Trade and Financial Services, met with Dawn Shackleford who has recently taken on the role of Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for WTO and Multilateral Affairs. We discussed likely areas for the WTO to develop in 2017 and what might be expected at the Ministerial in Argentina, including the state of play on digital trade/e-commerce work. We also discussed preparation for the OECD Trade Committee meeting in April including the latest developments on Colombia accession and ongoing member issues with certain Colombia government policies.
- Several USCIB Members Participate in ICC Brexit Advisory Group: The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) has established a Brexit Advisory Group under the leadership of ICC UK that will provide an international business perspective to the UK and EU governments as they move forward with the Brexit process. The Advisory Group will include representatives from a wide range of ICC national committees including Rob Mulligan for USCIB and several USCIB member company representatives: Greg Walters (3M), Dorothy Dwoskin (Microsoft), Jeremy Priess (UTC), and David Williams (Deloitte). The initial call of the group was held on January 24, 2017 to reach agreement on the scope and terms of reference for the group.
- USCIB Participating in CFR Brexit Roundtable: Shaun Donnelly, a former Assistant USTR for Europe with long experience on U.S.-EU issues, participated in a January 18 small informal roundtable at the Council on Foreign Relations on “Brexit”, the UK’s exit from the European Union. A senior British Government official speaking off-the-record, focused on Prime Minister May’s recent speech on Brexit. Participants, including from USTR, debated the challenges and opportunities Brexit may provide the UK, EU and U.S. Governments as well as businesses around the world. More questions than answers at this stage.
- USCIB Represents Business at EGA Ministerial: Representing the Coalition for Green Trade, Eva Hampl, Director, Investment, Trade and Financial Services was on the ground in Geneva for the final round of negotiations and Ministerial for an Environmental Goods Agreement (EGA), which took place on December 3 and 4, 2016. Leading up to the Ministerial, the Coalition hosted a well-attended reception for negotiators at the World Trade Organization (WTO) on December 1. Hampl, together with other Coalition members, met with various negotiating delegations, as well as repeated meetings with Ambassador Punke and U.S. negotiators throughout the week and the Ministerial. Despite great efforts by U.S. negotiators as well as many other negotiating delegations, the negotiations eventually broke down on Sunday, December 4, resulting in a statement issued by the U.S. and the EU, who were the Ministerial co-chairs. The Coalition issued a press release expressing disappointment with the outcome. Following the Ministerial, USCIB hosted Jennifer Prescott, Assistant USTR for Environment and Natural Resources and Bill McElnea, USTR Director for Environment and Natural Resources, at our offices on December 13, 2016 on behalf of the Coalition to provide a readout of the round and the Ministerial, as well as discuss next steps, particularly in light of the incoming Administration. The Coalition remains active, however no further rounds of negotiations have been scheduled for the EGA at this time.
- Strengthening USCIB Links with State’s IO Bureau: In the past six weeks USCIB has reached out to the two key offices in the State Department’s Bureau of International Organization Affairs (IO) to strengthen our links with U.S. policy makers on key UN agencies. In early December, a USCIB team of SVP Rob Mulligan, and VPs Norine Kennedy, Shaun Donnelly, and Helen Medina met with leadership of State IO’s Office of Economic and Development Affairs (EI/EDA) which manages U.S. participation in organizations like the World Health Organization (WHO), the International Labor Organization), UNCTAD, and the Rome-based UN Food Agencies FAO and WFP. IO/EDA also coordinates much of the U.S. Government for on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Some of these organizations seem to work pretty well but WHO is particularly troubling given its distinctly anti-business bias.
- Mulligan, Donnelly, and Wanner Meet with State Dept. IO/STA Leadership: In mid-January, Rob and Shaun plus USCIB Vice President for ICT Policy Barbara Wanner went back to State to meet with the leadership of IO’S Office of Specialized and Technical Agencies (IO/STA) which coordinates U.S. participation with other international organizations from the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and Internet Governance Forum to the UN Environment Program (UNEP), UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Universal Postal Union (UPU), and World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). With our unique status (through the International Chamber of Commerce) in the UN system and long experience with key UN agencies, we at USCIB want to be able to help members solve problems and even use key international organizations to advance important interests. Links with key policy makers at State and in other USG agencies are key tools for those efforts.
- USCIB Member Companies Honored by State Department: On January 5, 2017, two leading USCIB member companies, General Electric and McDonald’s, were honored with the Department of State’s prestigious Award for Corporate Excellence (ACE) for exceptional proactive corporate responsibility programs overseas. (Then) Deputy Secretary of State Tony Blinken presented GE for an award for “Inclusive Hiring Practices” for co-founding the country’s first all-women business services center, which now employs over 1,000 Saudi and non-Saudi women. McDonald’s Deutschland was honored for its leadership supporting refugees’ integration into Germany’s society and workforce. Since 2015, McDonald’s Deutschland has employed over 900 refugees across the country. The company also provided over 20,000 online German Language learning course licenses to help refugees prepare for the workforce in Germany. USCIB VP Shaun Donnelly, a former U.S. Ambassador and senior State Department economic policy official represented USCIB at the ACE ceremony.
ICT Policy – Promoting Sound Policies for New Technologies
- USCIB Members Address Gender Issues, Demand-Side Capacity at Internet Governance Forum (IGF): USCIB members from 21st Century Fox, Amazon, AT&T, BT Americas, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Oracle, The Walt Disney Company, TMG Legal, VeriSign, Verizon, and Wiley Rein, among others, participated as moderators and panelists in plenary sessions and workshops at the 11th IGF, December 6-9, 2016, Guadalajara, Mexico. USCIB co-organized workshops that addressed (1) bridging the gender digital divide by 2020 and (2) building demand-side capacity to spur Internet deployment. Barbara Wanner moderated the first workshop, which featured USCIB Members Hibah Kamal-Grayson (Google), Carolyn Nguyen (Microsoft), and Jackie Ruff (Verizon). They discussed what their companies are doing to bridge the gender digital divide by improving digital literacy and ICT-related professional opportunities for women. Ellen Blackler, The Walt Disney Company, moderated the second workshop, which looked broadly at efforts by business, civil society, and the creative community to create locally relevant content and considered challenges they face.
- NTIA Officials Debrief USCIB Members on ICANN 57 and Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) Developments: On December 13, 2016, Ashley Heineman and Ryan Carroll, both with the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and U.S. Representatives on ICANN’s Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC), debriefed ICT Policy Committee members on latest developments in ICANN stemming from its 57th annual meeting in Hyderabad, India, November 3-9, 2016. They noted that this was the historical first meeting following the transition of oversight of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) from NTIA to the multistakeholder Internet community. Heineman and Carroll also offered insights into some challenging topics on the GAC agenda, which included the role of the GAC in ICANN’s post-NTIA Empowered Community. The U. S. Government favored an advisory role, but countries such as Brazil and France advocated for more active involvement; there was no consensus and consultations will continue. Chris Wilson (21st Century Fox), who chairs ICANN’s Business Constituency, noted that two of the nine subgroups focused on issues aimed at enhancing ICANN’s accountability to the global stakeholder community are on track to complete their drafts by ICANN 58, March 11-16, 2017.
- USCIB Participates in Special Briefing by USTR Digital Trade Working Group: On January 12, 2017 USCIB joined other industry groups and member company representatives at a special briefing by USTR to update the business community on the work of the USTR’s Digital Trade Working Group. Deputy USTR Robert Holleyman, who convened the meeting, reviewed the key work of the group since its inception and USTR staff highlighted key activities in APEC, China, G20, WTO and in trade negotiations. Holleyman noted USTR’s request to the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) to conduct three investigations that would update the ITC’s two recent reports on digital trade: (1) a description of recent developments in the markets for business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) digital technologies and services; (2) a qualitative and (if possible) quantitative analysis of measures in key foreign markets that affect the ability of U.S. firms to develop or supply B2B digital services and products abroad; and (3) a qualitative and (if possible) quantitative analysis of measures in key foreign markets that affect the ability of U.S. firms to develop or supply B2C digital products and services abroad. Holleyman said it would to the incoming Trump Administration to determine how to move this work forward.
- USCIB Continues to Shape B20 Task Force on Digitalization Policy Recommendations: During December 2016 and January 2017, USCIB members continued to provide important inputs that shaped development of the 1st and 2nd drafts of the B20 Digitalization Taskforce policy paper. The topics around which these recommendations will be developed include: (1) global connectivity; (2) Industry 4.0, which refers to policies aimed at increasing the use of digital technologies to boost innovation, growth, and productivity in manufacturing and related services; and (3) Artificial Intelligence (AI). Importantly, USCIB member inputs helped to broaden the focus of the second topic – Industry 4.0 – to also include the Industrial Internet. In addition, B20 Germany accepted member edits and comments encouraging broader dialogues on how AI can be shaped to maximize its potential at its current nascent stage of development and broad industry deployment, rather than begin with the assumption that AI needs to be regulated. Finally, USCIB members were able to realize important textual changes to potentially problematic privacy-related elements of the 2nd draft.
Tax – Advancing Tax Policies that Promote U.S. Competitiveness
- USCIB Tax Leadership Joins BIAC Meetings with Chinese Government: USCIB Tax Committee Chair and BIAC Vice Chair Bill Sample joined BIAC Tax Committee Chair Will Morris and other Business Tax Bureau Members (including USCIB International Tax Counsel and BIAC Vice Chair Carol Doran Klein) in Beijing in January to meet with Chinese government authorities on issues related to implementation of BEPS project guidance. This was BIAC’s fourth trip to China, with the objective to ensure a constructive dialogue on BEPS-related issues and also in the broader context of tax and foreign direct investment.
- Brian Jenn, U.S. Treasury, meets with USCIB Tax Committee: USCIB held a Tax Committee meeting on January 25, 2016. Brian Jenn, Attorney-Advisor at the U.S. Treasury, presented remarks and answered questions concerning the OECD’s work on profit attribution to PEs, profit splits and the impact of the transition on developing international tax policy at Treasury. Ray Beeman, Washington Council-EY provided an overview on tax reform. The Committee also discussed ongoing work at the UN on the taxation of royalties.
Customs and Trade Facilitation – Reducing Barriers and Costs from Customs and Border Control Practices
- Committee Members Engage Commerce and USTR on Latin America, Mexico, IT Products: Megan Giblin, USCIB Director for Customs and Trade Facilitation, with members of the Customs Committee, met with representatives from the Department of Commerce, Latin America and Mexico desk and USTR Textiles, Customs, and Mexico desk to discuss the USCIB Customs Committee Mexico Issues paper, which covers a wide array of customs and trade facilitation concerns that members are experiencing. USCIB members also participated in a USTR led meeting on the Expansion of Trade in IT Products and next steps. This meeting was led by USTRs Jim Sanford, and attended by company representatives as well as representatives from other engaged industry associations.
- Customs and Trade Facilitation Committee Briefed by Elif Eroglu: The Customs & Trade Facilitation Committee welcomed Elif Eroglu, the U.S. delegate to the World Customs Organization (WCO) Technical Committee on Customs Valuation (TCCV) at its January 12, 2017 meeting. Elif gave a debrief of the recent TCCV meeting, outcomes, and open items. These inputs were supplemented by several USCIB Customs Committee members, who represent industry as authorized delegates under the ICC to the WCO TCCV. Following the Committee meeting, in person participants headed to CBP offices for a farewell open house for Maria Luisa Boyce, an appointee, who served as the Senior Advisor for Private Sector Engagement at CBP.
- Giblin Participates in Q4 COAC Meeting: Megan Giblin attended the Q4 COAC meeting held in Washington, D.C., where amended COAC recommendations originating from the Working Group on Forced Labor were announced. The COAC Working Group on Forced Labor is expected to continue, and CBP is expected to respond to the recommendations approved by the COAC at the next quarterly meeting. Forced Labor remains a priority issue for USCIB, specifically the Customs Committee, CSR and Labor Committees. USCIBs Megan Giblin and Ariel Meyerstein are leading engagement on this topic.
- USCIB Provides Support in Resolving Member WTO Tariff Issue: Megan Giblin provided technical support necessary to resolve a tariff treatment issue resulting from the U.S.’ first round of World Trade Organization (WTO) Information Technology Agreement (ITA) Expansion Commitments implemented in July 2016. Giblin developed technical facts and arguments, engaged relevant government agencies, and secured a fix for USCIB members in a recent Presidential Proclamation, which restored the duty-free treatment to e-readers with a translation or dictionary function. From July 1, 2016 – December 2, 2016, these e-readers were being subject to a 1.9 percent duty rate vs. a 0 percent general rate of duty. Moreover, not only was the 0 percent general rate of duty restored to these products, but the PP included a means to recover duties paid between July and December 2016. Such a win has a significant impact to a company’s bottom-line. For example, some members have paid in excess of USD $1.5M duties during this timeframe, which they will now be able to recover from U.S. CBP.
Corporate Responsibility – Developing Standards and Principles, Increasing Awareness of Positive Business Impact
- Stakeholder Advisory Board Meeting for U.S. National Contact Point: On December 12, 2016, Ariel Meyerstein, USCIB’s Vice President of Labor Standards, Corporate Responsibility and Governance participated in a meeting as a member of the multi-stakeholder Stakeholder Advisory Board to the U.S. National Contact Point (USNCP) for the implementation of the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. The SAB includes representatives from companies, unions and academia. The meeting focused on governance and future work of the Stakeholder Advisory Board and the continued development of the National Contact Point system, including the commitment by the U.S. government to submit its NCP to peer-review by fall 2017 in accordance with its commitment in the 2015 G7 Leaders Declaration.
- Meyerstein Addresses Multi-Stakeholder Discussion on U.S. NAP RBC: At an event on January 12, 2017 titled “The U.S. National Action Plan on Responsible Business Conduct: Reflections on the Way Here and the Road Ahead” USCIB’s Ariel Meyerstein spoke at a multi-stakeholder discussion on the U.S. National Action Plan. The event took place at the Washington College of Law in Washington D.C., and brought together representatives from U.S. government, business, academia, civil society, labor and community stakeholders. The participants reflected on the development of the U.S. NAP as well as its current substance, discussed future implementation processes, and the role of stakeholders in ensuring implementation and accountability. Other speakers included Eric Biel, former Deputy Undersecretary for International Affairs, U.S. Department of Labor, Cathy Feingold, Director, International Department AFL-CIO, and Katie Shay, Legal Counsel at Yahoo!
China – Supporting Policies and Relationships that Enhance U.S.-China Business
- USCIB Facilitates Dialogue on US-China Cybersecurity: On December 16, 2016, USCIB facilitated an off-the-record dialogue with U.S. Government officials on the topic of U.S.-China cybersecurity in Washington D.C. The meeting brought together officials from the White House, FBI, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Commerce, and USTR. After brief introductions by Tad Ferris, partner at Foley & Lardner LLP and chair of USCIB’s China Committee, Barbara Wanner, USCIB’s Vice President of ICT Policy and Eva Hampl, USCIB’s Director, Investment, Trade and Financial Services, the group received a strategic overview of the U.S.-China cybersecurity relationship from Christopher DeRusha, senior cybersecurity advisor, Office of the Federal Chief Information Officer. Discussions focused on the issue of cybersecurity from the perspective of different agencies. One of these perspectives was highlighted in a panel on trade-related aspects of the U.S.-China cybersecurity relationship, moderated by Hampl, which was discussed by Jonathan McHale, Deputy Assistant USTR for Telecommunications and Electronic Commerce Policy, and Christopher Wong, International Trade Specialist, Office of China and Mongolia, Department of Commerce.
Health – Business Engagement for Balanced International Health and Nutrition Regulations
- USCIB’s Food & Agriculture Working Group Engages with U.S. Government Representatives on Global Nutrition Issues: On January 12, 2017, USCIB members connected with three U.S. Government representatives from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of State: Caitlin Blair (USDA), Elle O’Flaherty (USDA), and John Tuminaro (State Department). The purpose of the meeting was to give USCIB members the opportunity to share their priorities for the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) activities and hear about U.S. government engagement at the CFS. The U.S. government officials agreed to work with USCIB in the future as the U.S. continues to develop its agenda for CFS this year.
Environment – Promoting appropriate environmental protection and energy security integrated with open trade, investment and economic growth
- Environment Committee Develops Priority Recommendations on International Environmental Policy for Trump Administration: USCIB’s Environment Committee met at Beveridge & Diamond on December 15, 2016 in Washington D.C. to discuss the potential implications of the New Administration on international environmental policy impacting U.S. companies. The Committee welcomed Sue Biniaz, Senior Legal Advisor for Climate Change, U.S. Department of State Department and the Honorable James Bacchus, Greenberg Traurig and Chair of the ICC Trade and Investment Commission who offered their perspectives and experience on long-term multilateral negotiations. The meeting discussed the future U.S. role in the Paris Climate Agreement, steps to avoid trade barriers while advancing climate policy and opportunities to improve access and accountability in UN bodies for the U.S. private sector. USCIB will finalize its overall messages to the Trump Administration in coming weeks, and develop a list of key near term actions for the Administration’s consideration.
- SDG Working Group Plans Business Roundtable Meetings on Infrastructure and Innovation, Hears from Lena Gerber of the U.S. Department of State: USCIB’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Working Group will organize two roundtable events to discuss enabling frameworks for infrastructure and innovation as they each relate to the SDGs. These roundtable events will present examples of business action to promote and track infrastructure/innovation investments for the SDGs, and highlight new opportunities for cross-sectoral business partnerships to implement and advance the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The roundtable events will be planned to coincide with relevant events where target audiences of government and UN officials will be on hand, for example, the Financing for Development Infrastructure Forum, April 22, 2017 in D.C. and the 2nd UN Science Technology and Innovation Forum on May 15-16, 2017 in New York. USCIB’s SDG Working Group conference call on January 17, 2017 featured a discussion with guest speaker Lena Gerber of the U.S. Department of State who presented U.S. government goals and engagement in SDG meetings in 2017. The call updated members on recent developments in metrics and indicators for the UN SDGs and the 2030 Agenda and identified new opportunities for consultation with the Administration.
- Membership Meetings: The Washington, D.C. membership department and policy staff met with representatives from member companies Viacom, PvH and Pepsi to develop our understanding of their policy priorities for the next year and beyond, and to see how USCIB can better serve their policy needs.
- New Members: USCIB has recently welcomed Applied Materials and Dechert LLP as new members.
APEC Electronic Commerce Steering Group, Nha Trang, Vietnam – February 22-25
BIAC and OECD Investment Committees, Paris, France – March 6-8
USCIB Trade and Investment Committee Meeting, Washington, D.C. – March 7
USCIB/BIAC/OECD Digital Economy Conference, “Facilitating Digital Transformation: The Enabling Role of the OECD”, Washington, D.C. – March 8
ICT Policy Committee Meeting and Joint BIAC/USCIB Committee on
Digital Economy Policy Meeting, Washington, D.C. – March 9
ICANN 58, Copenhagen, Denmark – March 11-16
B20 Joint Taskforce/Cross-Thematic Group Meeting, Paris, France – March 21
B20 Task Force on Digitalization & G20 ICT Ministerial, Dusseldorf, Germany – April 5-7
BIAC and OECD Trade Committees, Paris, France – April 25-27
B20 Summit, Berlin, Germany – May 2
USCIB/OECD/BIAC 2017 International Tax Conference, Washington, D.C. – June 5-6
USCIB Policy and Program Staff
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