USCIB Holds High-Level Meetings During WTO Public Forum

USCIB and several members were on the ground in Geneva the week of October 7 for the World Trade Organization (WTO) Public Forum. The Forum included a plethora of panels on critical issues of concern to business including digital trade, services, the moratorium in customs duties on electric transmissions (Moratorium), the ongoing e-commerce negotiations, and WTO reform, including issues surrounding the Appellate Body (AB).

In addition to participating in the active forum agenda, USCIB’s Senior Vice President Rob Mulligan and Senior Director Eva Hampl held side-meetings with WTO leadership, such as Deputy Director-General Alan Wolff, Director, Council and TNC Division Victor do Prado, Director, Information and External Relations Division Keith Rockwell and Counselor, Telecom, ICT & E-commerce, Trade in Services and Investment Division Lee Tuthill. Mulligan and Hampl also met with Ambassadors Dennis SheaStephen deBoer, and Junichi Ihara from the United States, Canada, and Japan, respectively. Finally, USCIB engaged with international business groups, including Confederation of British Industry (CBI), Ibec (Irish Business), Canadian Chamber of Commerce, ICC UK, and Confederation of Danish Industry (DI).

“Across the board, everybody is closely paying attention to the E-Commerce negotiations,” said Mulligan. “There is a general positive attitude regarding the negotiations, but also a recognition that the tough issues like data flows and localization policies are still to come. Accordingly, it is not likely that an agreement will be ready by the Ministerial Council meeting in June 2020 (MC12).”

According to Mulligan, on the issue of the Moratorium, there continue to be opponents to extending the agreement, but most WTO members support at a minimum extending it to MC12 once it runs out in December of this year. To push back against the opposing forces, several studies are being developed. Among these, the OECD is also developing a paper on the Moratorium, which is likely to be released very soon.

WTO reform domin ated the discussion, often targeted at the U.S. pushing for meaningful updates on issues like subsidies, transparency, and notifications. The U.S. position on the Appellate Body, however, continues to be controversial and there is some nervousness about what will happen to the dispute resolution arm of the WTO once the terms of two of the three remaining AB members run out at the end of the year. On the other hand, there are some who believe pragmatism will take over and the value of the institution and the important work being done on the other reforms will not be impacted.

USCIB also co-hosted a breakfast with the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC). Speakers at the breakfast included The Right Honorable Liz Truss MP, secretary of state for International Trade in the UK, who spoke on the importance of the multilateral trading system; Ambassador Sunanta Kangvalkulkij from Thailand, who provided an update in the General Council discussions; Ambassador David Walker from New Zealand, who provided an update on the AB, and Ambassador Frances Lisson from Australia, who spoke about the JSI on E-Commerce; and WTO Director General Roberto Azevedo, who spoke to the current state of play of WTO Reform.

To wrap up the busy week in Geneva, USCIB co-hosted a business reception with several other business associations, to underline the importance of a business relationship with the WTO. Invitees include member companies and associations, country delegates, and WTO staff.

USCIB Participates in WTO Public Forum in Geneva

With the World Trade Organization (WTO) Public Forum taking place this week in Switzerland, USCIB Senior Vice President for Policy and Government Affairs Rob Mulligan and Senior Director for Trade, Investment, and Financial Services Eva Hampl, along with several USCIB members, are on the ground in Geneva to engage in various side meetings with WTO officials and staff.

According to Mulligan, the main issues of concern are WTO reform, including the Appellate Body, as well as the E-Commerce negotiations, with a particular focus on the Moratorium on customs duties on electronic transmission which is about to run out the end of the year.

On October 9, USCIB co–hosted a breakfast with the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), several ICC National Committees, including from the UK, Germany, and Switzerland, and the Digital Trade Network. The governments of Benin, Canada and Switzerland also supported the event. Several ambassadors exchanged views with business in the room about various aspects of current WTO activities. The event concluded with remarks by WTO Secretary General Roberto Azevedo, speaking about the importance of international trade and finding solutions.

Taxation

Trends and Challenges Facing U.S. Business:

  • Multiple sets of inconsistent rules that drive up costs and result in double taxation
  • The mounting political pressure to move towards changing the taxation of the digitalized economy
  • Efforts to unfairly increase the tax burden on companies

USCIB’s Response:

  • Engage with the OECD on the development of international taxation principles
  • Proactively shape the development of the OECD’s guidance on the taxation of the digitalized economy by demonstrating to policymakers that unilateral action can result in double taxation, decreased trade, and reduced global growth
  • Actively monitor and contribute to the work of the UN Committee of Tax Experts to ensure its alignment with the work of the OECD Tax Committee and inform policymakers of their actions’ impact on investment
  • Support enactment of foreign tax simplification provisions in the IRC that would significantly reduce the burden of complexity for U.S. companies and enhance their international competitiveness
  • Host an annual conference in Washington, DC that provides a unique opportunity for the U.S. business community to interact with key representatives from the OECD Centre for Tax Policy and Administration (“CTPA”).

Magnifying Your Voice with USCIB:

  • USCIB is the only U.S. business association formally affiliated with the world’s three largest business organizations where we work with business leaders across the globe to extend our reach to influence policymakers in key international markets to American business
  • Build consensus with like-minded industry peers and participate in off-the-record briefings with policymakers both home and abroad.

More Recent Accomplishments

News Stories

USCIB Urges Treasury to Work With OECD on Digital Taxation (10/8/2019) - USCIB Urges Treasury to Work With OECD on Digital Taxes
USCIB Reports on Public Hearing on Digital Services Tax (8/20/2019) - USCIB submitted comments on August 20 to the Section 301 Committee on the Investigation of France’s Digital Services Tax (DST). According

Read More

Chair

Bill Sample
Tax Policy Advisor
Microsoft Corporation

Vice Chairs

Timothy M. McDonald
Vice President, Finance & Accounting, Global Taxes
The Procter & Gamble Company

Will Morris
Deputy Global Tax Policy Leader
PwC

Louise Weingrod
Vice President, Global Taxation
Johnson & Johnson

Staff

Carol Doran Klein
Vice President and International Tax Counsel
202-682-7376 or cdklein@uscib.org

Erin Breitenbucher
Senior Policy & Program Associate and Office Manager, Washington
202-682-7465 or ebreitenbucher@uscib.org

Subcommittees

BIAC/ICC Subcommittee

Legislative and Administrative Developments Subcommittee

Tax Treaties Subcommittee

Transfer Pricing Subcommittee

Working Groups

Working Group on Consumption Taxes

Working Group on the Digital Economy

Working Group on Environment and Energy Taxes

 

Pledge to America’s Workers: Spotlight on IBM

Photo source: IBM.com

Following the recent announcement of the U.S. Department of Labor’s 5th annual National Apprenticeship Week running November 11-17, USCIB is showcasing the positive impact apprenticeship programs have in addressing the U.S. skills gap and preparing the American workforce for the jobs of today and tomorrow. Each week, USCIB is featuring case studies of members that are making an impact in re-skilling and re-training the workforce as part of the White House Pledge to America’s Workers.

USCIB member IBM has created and expanded multiple training channels, from apprenticeships to innovative reboots of high-school career and technical education programs, all with a focus on preparing students and working professionals for the many well-paying jobs in today’s technology industry that do not always require a traditional bachelor’s degree. These aren’t “blue collar” or “white collar” jobs, but in fact, “new collar” jobs that prioritize capabilities over credentials. For IBM, what matters most in these roles is having the right mix of in-demand skills and a commitment to lifelong learning. IBM believes that companies bringing advanced technologies to market have a responsibility to prepare students and workers for the way those technologies will shape jobs and the very nature of work. And through that commitment, the company is expanding job opportunities in parts of the country where technology jobs have been scarce at best, from Missouri to Louisiana to West Virginia.

New collar roles can be found in some of technology’s fastest growing fields, including cloud computing, cybersecurity and digital design, to name just a few. IBM’s goal is to shift mindsets in the tech industry, opening the hiring aperture for candidates with non-traditional backgrounds and making the tech workforce more diverse and inclusive. Whether you’ve built skills through coding camps, community colleges, apprenticeships or modern career education programs, there’s a job for you at today’s IBM.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the programs IBM has created:

In 2011, IBM helped pioneer the groundbreaking P-TECH public education model so students preparing to enter the workforce can start learning skills for new collar roles during high school. P-TECH addresses education and workforce development challenges. Students can earn their high school diploma and no-cost associate degree aligned to real career opportunities in six years or less. The program combines classroom education with mentoring and workplace experiences, all grounded in relevant skills that are in-demand among American employers. Business partners are essential to P-TECH success, as they provide mentors for students, host site visits and paid internships, and commitment to putting P-TECH graduates at the front of the line for job interviews. IBM is working with governors across the United States to expand this model and prepare more American students for new collar careers. By the end of 2019, 200 P-TECH schools will be serving 125,000 students across 10 U.S. states and 14 countries.

To help expand new collar opportunities for students and mid-career professionals, IBM launched a 21st century paid apprenticeship program in October 2017, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Labor. This initiative focuses on building skills in cybersecurity, mainframe administration, software development and more. The 12-18 month program pairs apprentices with an IBM mentor to work on real IBM projects, along with traditional classroom learning. The apprenticeship program has proven to be very successful, growing twice as fast as expected in just the first year. By the end of 2019, IBM will have hired 500 apprentices and the company plans to hire 450 more each year for the next five years. Because of the widespread success of this program, IBM teamed with the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) in January 2019 to create the CTA Apprenticeship Coalition, where IBM’s apprenticeship model provides the foundation for a group of top tier companies to build or expand thousands of apprenticeships in communities coast to coast.

IBM has been a major American employer for more than a century. Two generations ago, the company helped launch the country’s first courses in computer science so workers nationwide could work with machines that were poised to reshape our lives. Today, the company is carrying that legacy forward with AI and cloud computing poised to change everything once more.

See here for other spotlights:

Salesforce

Walmart

SAICM Advances Zero Draft for Post-2020 Chemicals Policy Framework

The third meeting of the Intersessional Process for Considering the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) and the Sound Management of Chemicals and Waste Beyond 2020 (IP3) was convened in Bangkok, Thailand, September 30 – October 4. Approximately 350 representatives of governments, industry, non-governmental organizations and intergovernmental organizations attended the proceedings. USCIB was a member of the private sector delegation representing the views of downstream users of chemicals, and included Mike Michener, USCIB vice president for product policy and innovation.

SAICM was adopted in 2006 as a policy framework to promote chemical safety around the world. SAICM contains an ambitious goal to achieve the sound management of chemicals throughout their life cycle so that by the year 2020 chemicals are produced and used in ways that minimize significant adverse impacts on the environment and human health. As 2020 rapidly approaches governments, industry and other stakeholders have been examining progress towards that goal and discussing SAICM’s future beyond 2020, when its current mandate expires. USCIB members have been longstanding participants in SAICM discussions through the USCIB International Product Policy Working Group.

Participants continued their discussions on possible elements for a post-2020 platform for international cooperation on the sound management of chemicals and waste for consideration by the fifth meeting of SAICM’s governing body, the International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM 5) when it convenes in Bonn, Germany, in October 2020. According to Michener, the goal for IP3 was to develop, as far as possible, input for a “zero draft” for deliberation at the fourth and last IP meeting scheduled in Bucharest, Romania in March 2020.

Participants were organized into four “thematic groups” designed to develop recommendations for ICCM5 in the following areas:  targets, milestones and indicators; enhanced institutional arrangements; mechanisms to support implementation (including the science-policy interface and issues of concern); and financial considerations. At closing plenary, delegates heard reports from the thematic groups and from the various organizations that hosted the week’s sectoral meetings on health, agriculture, labor and environment.

“I am pleased to report that we are finally making some progress towards a zero draft agreement for SAICM Beyond 2020,” noted Michener. “While IP4 in Bucharest faces a very full agenda, I am optimistic. We may still have a lot of bracketed text to deal with, but there were many valuable conversations at IP3 that began to find common ground.”

ICCM5 President Gertrud Sahler hailed the intensive and fruitful deliberations as setting a firm foundation for work at IP4 and a large step toward a successful ICCM5. IP Co-Chair David Morin of Canada outlined the process for generating a “zero draft” for deliberations at IP4. Germany announced that it would host a special workshop before IP4 to discuss a possible enabling framework for the beyond-2020 platform, and Norway offered to help fund broad stakeholder participation in the workshop.

Hampl Provides Testimony at Interagency Committee on China’s WTO Compliance

Following USCIB’s annual submission to the U.S. Trade Representative regarding China’s compliance with its WTO commitments, USCIB Senior Director for Trade, Investment and Financial Services Eva Hampl provided testimony before the interagency Trade Policy Staff Committee, which was chaired by USTR and included officials from the Departments of Commerce, Treasury, State, Agriculture and Labor.

“USCIB members continue to have serious concerns with a host of policies and practices maintained by China that undermine the ability of U.S. businesses to operate, including unfair and discriminatory governmental practices,” stated Hampl. “The tariff actions under Section 301 have not to date resolved the underlying issues [of forced technology transfer and intellectual property theft] identified by the United States. Accordingly, high-level bilateral dialogue between the United States and China continues to be of the utmost importance. We also urge 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.”

The questions from the panel addressed the problematic enforcement of the anti-monopoly law, the myriad of certification and testing requirements, the current cybersecurity regime, market access (China’s filtering and blocking of websites and online services), the dysfunctional approval process for new agricultural biotechnology products, and recent developments on  China’s labor laws.

USCIB submitted extensive written comments last month. The submission is public and can also be found on www.regulations.gov under Docket Number USTR-2019-0010.

USCIB Urges Treasury to Work With OECD on Digital Taxation

In response to the continuing and extensive digitalization of the economy and increasing calls by countries to tax the income of technology companies that earn revenue in a market without necessarily having a traditional physical presence in that market, USCIB sent a letter on October 4 to Secretary of the Treasury Steven T. Mnuchin. The letter urges Secretary Mnuchin to continue to work with the OECD and other countries to achieve the best outcome for U.S. taxpayers, the U.S. Treasury, and the U.S. economy.

“USCIB believes that any fundamental changes to the international tax rules should be achieved through a consensus-based process,” said USCIB Vice President for Taxation Policy Carol Doran Klein.

According to USCIB’s letter, the best place to conduct a consensus-based process is at the OECD where over 130 countries are participating in a project to attempt to achieve consensus on possible new rules applicable to the broad digitalized economy. The United States Treasury has, to date, been an active participant in this project, including serving as vice-chair of the steering group.

USCIB Meets With DOJ on Global Competition Issues

L-R: Mike Murray, Deputy Assistant Attorney General; James Fredricks, Section Chief, Criminal Section II, U.S. Department of Justice; Dina Kallay, Ericsson and USCIB Competition Committee Chair; Eva Hampl, USCIB Senior Director, Investment, Trade and Financial Services; and Jennifer Patterson, Arnold & Porter and USCIB Competition Committee Vice-Chair.

Department of Justice (DOJ) Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Appellate Mike Murray met with USCIB’s Competition Committee, chaired by Dina Kallay (Ericsson), during its fall meeting on September 25 at the offices of White & Case LLP.  Following an introduction and welcome by Vice Chair Jennifer Patterson (Arnold & Porter LLP), USCIB members participated in an active agenda that included updates on important developments on global competition issues.

Murray discussed the issue of indirect purchasers DOJ Antitrust Division brief and position in Apple v. Pepper. His complete remarks can be found here. DOJ Section Chief Jim Fredericks, Criminal Section II then presented and answered member questions regarding the DOJ Antitrust Division new policy to incentivize compliance programs.

Members also received an update from Bryan Gant from White & Case on the status of the amicus brief USCIB filed in the 1-800 Contacts case, which urges reversal of the FTC ruling on antitrust liability for trademark settlements. Finally, John Taladay (Baker Botts), Chair of the Business at OECD Competition Committee, provided an overview of the upcoming OECD Competition Week taking place December 2-6 in Paris. The latter part of that week will be the Global Forum on Competition, covering issues such as competition provisions in regional trade agreements and merger control in dynamic markets.

USCIB Continues to Support Comprehensive Trade Deal with Japan

Using a transparent effect.

Washington, D.C., September 25, 2019 – Following the announcement of a partial trade deal between the United States and Japan today on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York, the United States Council for International Business (USCIB), which represents America’s most successful global companies, welcomed the conclusion of the deal with Japan addressing some key trade concerns, but looks forward to continued negotiations of a comprehensive agreement to benefit American businesses in all sectors.

“This partial deal is an important first step in opening the market with the fourth largest trading partner of the United States,” said USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson. “However, several other sectors that also have trade concerns are not covered by this agreement, so we urge the Administration to continue negotiations to create vital opportunities for U.S. companies exporting to and investing in Japan.”

USCIB continues to support a comprehensive trade deal including important provisions on broad market access, intellectual property protections, investment, customs and trade facilitation, financial services, and dispute settlement. These provisions, providing broad access and protections, are key to ensuring the economic success of American companies in the global market place.

About USCIB:
USCIB promotes open markets, competitiveness and innovation, sustainable development and corporate responsibility, supported by international engagement and regulatory coherence. Its members include U.S.-based global companies and professional services firms from every sector of our economy, with operations in every region of the world, generating $5 trillion in annual revenues and employing over 11 million people worldwide. As the U.S. affiliate of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), the International Organization of Employers, and Business at OECD (known as BIAC), USCIB helps to provide business views to policy makers and regulatory authorities worldwide, and works to facilitate international trade and investment. More information is available at www.uscib.org.

Contact:
Kira Yevtukhova, USCIB
+1 202.617.3160, kyevtukhova@uscib.org

USCIB Discusses International Environmental Policy With EPA Administrator 

L-R: USCIB VP Norine Kennedy, U.S. EPA Administrator Andrew R. Wheeler, USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson

As the 74th United Nations General Assembly High Level Session got underway, USCIB members met with the U.S. Environment Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew R. Wheeler to discuss advancing U.S. business innovation and investment towards transboundary environmental challenges.

The meeting was a unique opportunity for USCIB members to engage with the Administrator on U.S. business priorities for international environmental engagement and public private partnerships while advancing economic prosperity and environmental stewardship at home and abroad.

“We needy enabling conditions for dialogue and partnership with the private sector in the multilateral system,” stressed USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson during his welcoming remarks. “Therefore, we do need to remove barriers to some business sectors in some parts of UN system – USCIB is working on this, and we would welcome EPA’s support in this area too,” he added.

Wheeler’s remarks focused on current environmental priorities for the EPA, such as the global water crisis, which he noted must be tackled through improving access to safe drinking water, strengthening infrastructure and preventing plastic debris from reaching oceans. Wheeler also emphasized global challenges and EPA involvement to tackle food waste.

“USCIB members had an opportunity to share perspectives on the kinds of partnerships that business and EPA can collaborate on to find solutions to global challenges, in addition to discussing the necessary infrastructure investments that are needed,” said USCIB Vice President for Strategic International Engagement, Energy and Environment Norine Kennedy.