USCIB Member HP Presents at WTO Symposium on Information Technology Agreement

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About USCIB

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

USCIB Comments on China’s Compliance With Its WTO Commitments

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

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

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

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

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

USCIB Hosts A Conversation About the Future of Food

On the eve of the United Nations Food Systems and Nutrition Summit on September 23, USCIB convened a virtual event—The Future of Food: A Conversation— with experts and practitioners from across societal, scientific, value chain and innovation perspectives.

The September 21 event highlighted the need for and successful examples of innovation across the food and agriculture industry, the roles and relevance of collaborative approaches to innovation, and how shared value and understanding can hold the key to future opportunities.

Facilitated by USCIB Senior Vice President for Innovation, Regulation, and Trade Brian Lowry, the event was convened around the premise that in order to feed a growing population within planetary boundaries—considering amount of global climate emissions linked to agriculture and food—leaders must rethink how food, and especially protein, is made and sourced. Transforming the food system is not a solitary task; industry must come together and find new ways to collaborate and partner, and new alternatives must be created in a complementary manner.

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

Together, these experts discussed how industry is responding through strategy, science, and sustainability; the types of complementary solutions that are under development within value chains, and how new ways of thinking and working together can be applied to support such efforts; the views of younger generations and how younger consumers are changing the landscape around the sustainable food revolution; and how we can incorporate alternative sources of food and proteins into the future of sustainable farming and how to factor in climate change, and subsequently, climate action.

In closing, Lowry said, “Welcome to the starting line of what is clearly and important race  – a marathon – to transform the global food system.  I am thrilled to be at the start of this marathon with such an impressive and passionate group of people. People who do not want to watch it happen, but want to make it happen.”

USCIB Makes Recommendations to Biden Administration on Negotiations of Investor-State Dispute Settlement

USCIB submitted a letter to officials in the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Trade Representative regarding ongoing negotiations on reform of Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) in the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) Working Group III.

“USCIB has been the lead private sector observer delegation throughout these negotiations and has long been a leading voice for the U.S. private sector on international investment policy issues,” said USCIB Director of Investment, Trade, and China Alice Slayton Clark. 

The letter emphasized several policy issues of concern to the U.S. business and industry community, including the European Union’s ill-conceived proposal to replace ISDS with a multilateral investment court, which the United States has opposed under successive Democratic and Republican administrations.

According to Clark, “we have seen almost no support for the court amongst U.S. stakeholders, including business, labor, and environmental groups.”

The letter also noted that UNCITRAL WG III is considering other “reforms” to ISDS that would be unfavorable to U.S. business. For example, some states have proposed that investors who own shares in a foreign company should be prohibited from seeking a remedy for damages to their investments if they do not control the company. Such an approach would leave U.S. investors entirely without a remedy in many cases, even where the law requires them to invest through a joint venture with local partners.

USCIB made three recommendations for the Biden Administration to consider:
• that the U.S. government continue to assign a high priority to the UNCITRAL WG III negotiations;
• that the U.S. government continue the practice of dialogue and cooperation with USCIB, the broader U.S. private sector, and other stakeholders; and
• that the U.S. government seek to include on the agenda for any upcoming high-level U.S.-EU meeting, a frank discussion of the EU’s multilateral investment court proposal and the UNCITRAL negotiations.

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.

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.