Wanner Makes Intervention at UN Meeting on Security and Use of ICTs

On occasion of the second meeting of the United Nations Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG) on the Security of and Use of ICTs on December 16, USCIB Vice President for ICT Policy Barbara Wanner delivered an intervention on behalf of stakeholders during a virtual stakeholder consultative discussion with the Chair of the Group, Ambassador Burhan Gafoor.

Wanner’s intervention highlighted many of the points that USCIB had already made in a letter that USCIB submitted to the Ambassador on December 9 prior to Wanner’s intervention, which was co-signed by 147 stakeholders from non-governmental organizations, states and regional organizations as well as individuals. The letter expressed an overarching commitment to a successful OEWG process and a belief that it is likely to have a far-reaching impact on many stakeholders, including impacts on communities and individuals. The letter also emphasized the importance of an open, transparent and inclusive dialogue that would provide the basis for stakeholders to play a role in implementing the decisions and which would take into consideration their ability to participate and contribute to the outcome.

“We urge you to stay true to your commitment to continue to leverage the expertise of non-governmental stakeholders in a ‘systematic, sustained, and substantive manner’ in order to effectively build upon the work of the first OEWG,” said Wanner.

Wanner also stressed the need for transparency, both in terms of the development of texts, and the accreditation process for non-governmental stakeholder participation. She also emphasized the need to continue using a hybrid format for meetings to facilitate the participation of delegates and stakeholders who cannot travel to New York.

“This approach will remain critical as we continue to battle the global pandemic. It also will enable full transparency of the proceedings as mentioned previously,” she added.

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.

USCIB Supports OECD’s Launch of Report on ‘E-Commerce Challenges in Illicit Trade in Fakes’

USCIB Anti Illicit Trade Committee (AITC) Chair David Luna, who also chairs the Business at OECD (BIAC) Anti-Illicit Trade Expert Group (AITEG), made remarks at the December 13 launch of the OECD report “E-commerce challenges in illicit trade in fakes.” The launch of the report took place at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s National IPR Coordination Center in Virginia. This important report is also the first outcome of a Special Project on illicit trade between the AITEG and the dynamic public-private partnership (PPP) established under the OECD Task Force on Countering Illicit Trade (TF-CIT).

“On behalf of Business at OECD, we are especially proud to have actively participated in the work leading up to this final report through sharing information and market data insights, best practices, and other industry perspectives to shed greater light on the booming trade of counterfeits across global supply chains and online marketplaces,” said Luna.

“We believe it is crucial to take into account the input from private sector since it ultimately contributes to gain a more detailed perspective of the adverse impacts emerging from illicit trade in e-commerce,” he added.

“USCIB is the U.S. affiliate of Business at OECD (BIAC), the industry voice of the OECD. USCIB members Pfizer, Amazon, eBay, Walmart, Nike, Walt Disney, ABinBev, PMI and The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Global Innovation Policy Canter (GIPC) have been active in the BIAC AITEG and the good work of the TF-CIT tied to COVID, e-Commerce, and more,” said Megan M. Giblin, USICB director of customs and trade facilitation, and trade policy manager for USCIB AIT work.

Luna added that many other BIAC federations and partners worked on these important thematic streams in recent years, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Luna, the report is timely given the breadth and scale of nefarious actors and criminal networks exploitation of the openness of the internet and anonymity of transactions on e-commerce to evade detection and circumvent law enforcement to distribute and trade in counterfeit and pirated goods, and other illicit goods and contraband, across the digital world. The pandemic has further accelerated illicit trade but especially across online platforms including fraudulent COVID-19 related products.

“As we learned through our series of TF-CIT webinars over the past year, COVID-19 also created unprecedented opportunities for criminals to increase their already significant illicit activities, such as counterfeit pharmaceutical products and personal protective equipment (PPE), frauds, and coronavirus-phishing scams. Illicit trade has further hampered economic development by preventing the equitable distribution of resources that provide for sustainable futures,” said Luna. “Moving forward, the AITEG remains committed to continuing our partnership with the TF-CIT on Phase 2 of the E-Commerce project including more in-depth analyses of the institutional and governance gaps exploited by criminals, and encouragement of more national assessments and country studies.”

Giblin noted that USCIB and its members look forward to continued work with the BIAC AITEG in support of the OECD TF-CIT work streams.

USCIB Statement on the Summit for Democracy

Washington D.C., December 13, 2021—The United States Council for International Business (USCIB) welcomes the recent Summit for Democracy and reaffirms our long-standing support for the critical importance of democracy and rule of law as foundational pillars of well-functioning and inclusive societies.

We agree, as the Biden Administration rightly stated, “that both history and overwhelming data show that societies that respect and defend democratic institutions, the rule of law, human rights and fundamental freedoms, and gender equality are more stable, prosperous, secure and better equipped to confront global challenges.”

“Businesses are key actors in democratic societies, contributing to civic and economic empowerment of people and public institutions, while advancing growth and equality,” said USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson. “Importantly, business and employer membership organizations are themselves democratic institutions and a core part of the fabric of democratic societies.”

USCIB advocates for good governance, rule of law, anti-corruption and anti-bribery frameworks and other measures of responsible governance, as being among the required elements of the enabling environments for trade and investment that bring growth and opportunity. Indeed, UN Sustainable Development Goal 16 “Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions,” makes clear the key role that governance and the rule of law play in promoting peaceful, just and inclusive societies and in ensuring sustainable development.

As the U.S. affiliate of the International Chamber of CommerceBusiness at OECD (BIAC) and the International Organization of Employers, USCIB joins with global business and employer peers in advocating these policies in international policy fora, including the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the International Labor Organization (ILO), and the United Nations. As an example, we note in particular USCIB’s engagement through BIAC to support the recent successful launch of the OECD Public Integrity Indicators Portal and the 2021 Recommendation for Further Combatting Bribery of Foreign Officials.

Finally, USCIB and its members reiterate their firm belief that alongside national rule of law and good governance, based on democratic principles, multilateral cooperation is the single most powerful vehicle to achieve an inclusive and sustainable path to dealing with the enormity of the challenges facing society today. Business is a necessary voice in that effort, and USCIB will continue our work to engage meaningfully and constructively as a leading actor at home and within the multilateral organizational system to advance democratic principles and rule of law.

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 Presses USTR for Section 301 Tariff Relief

USCIB sent a letter to the United States Trade Representative (USTR) Katherine Tai urging for full reinstatement of the Section 301 product exclusion process and calling for a negotiated solution to put an end to the tariffs.

According to USCIB Director for Investment, Trade and China Alice Slayton Clark, the letter was dispatched December 1 as USCIB’s response to the recent USTR request for comment on the possible reinstatement of certain product exclusions subject to the Section 301 investigation of China’s acts, policies, and practices related to technology transfer, intellectual property and innovation (86 FR 56345).

“While reinstatement of the product exclusion process is an important first step, we urge USTR to grant exclusions to all 549 products currently under review, to broaden the Section 301 product exclusion process, and to intensify high level engagement with the Chinese government and U.S. allies on a negotiated solution that ends these harmful tariffs,” said Clark. The letter advocates for retroactive recuperation of duties, long term extensions and a full and transparent Section 301 product exclusion process. It also urges caution when considering any future unilateral actions or remedies, as Ambassador Tai has indicated an interest in launching a new Section 301 investigation into Chinese industrial subsidy policies.

The letter further emphasizes that, while USCIB remains wholly committed to U.S. efforts to confront unfair trade practices, “we are concerned that the Section 301 tariffs imposed against Chinese imports have done more harm than good. Today, the tariffs cover over $370 billion in goods, levying tariffs of up to twenty-five percent on almost every Chinese import into the United States, including USCIB member products across the entire scope of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTS). The tariffs have raised the cost of doing business in the United States and increased prices for U.S. families without addressing or improving the practices identified by the Section 301.” This outcome runs counter to the Biden Administration’s Build Back Better agenda and goals for U.S. economic recovery.

USCIB Competition Group Meets With FTC Commissioner, Discusses US Antitrust Developments

The USCIB Competition Committee convened virtually November 12 for its semiannual meeting to discuss updates on antitrust at the national and international levels. Federal Trade Commissioner Noah Phillips served as featured speaker, providing personal insights on the shift in approach of the Biden Administration with respect to merger and acquisition activity, enforcement, rulemaking authority, treatment of labor markets, review of the horizontal and vertical merger guidelines, the July 2021 executive order on promoting competition and the new White House Competition Council.

Commissioner Phillips was appointed to the FTC in April 2018, having previously served as Chief Counsel to Senator John Cornyn (D-TX), on the Senate Judiciary Committee, and in various Washington D.C. and New York law firms. According to USCIB Director for Investment, Trade and China Alice Slayton Clark, Commissioner Phillips interactively engaged with the Committee by answering questions.

The Committee was also updated on the upcoming meetings and activities of the OECD and Business at OECD (BIAC) by Jane Antonio and John Taladay of Baker Botts. BIAC has prepared feedback on four OECD papers under discussion at recent OECD Competition Committee meetings: competition in books and e-books, environmental considerations in competition enforcement, ex-ante regulation and competition in digital markets, and economic analysis and evidence in abuse cases. The OECD meetings will be followed by the annual OECD Global Forum on Competition December 6-8.

USCIB Competition Committee Chair Dina Kallay (Ericsson) and Vice Chair Jennifer Patterson (Arnold & Porter), updated USCIB members on activities at the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), where they serve as Vice Chairs on the ICC Competition Commission. They discussed the ICC’s Antitrust Compliance Toolkit and its Small and Mid-Size Enterprises (SME) version, as well as recent efforts to update the 2018 leniency manual. Both put a call out for interested USCIB members to become directly involved in the ICC Competition Commission and working groups.

Finally, Kallay informed members on a new draft framework paper issued by the French Competition Authority addressing compliance programs. She suggested USCIB weigh in, pressing for more credit for compliance programs in antitrust enforcement.

Julie Guichard and Matt Heim of Amazon also briefed members on a draft foreign subsidies regulatory initiative in the EU that would impact member companies operating in Europe. The proposal would require mandatory notification to the European Commission of all subsidies received from non-EU governments, information to be used in screening foreign direct investment, mergers and acquisitions, and joint ventures. The proposal was originally aimed at Chinese state-owned enterprises (SOEs), but they warned that the scope has been expanded and will now likely impact western multinationals doing business in Europe. USCIB will explore the issue with members to see if there is an interest in weighing in with the U.S. government on the proposal.

USCIB Advocates Strong Investment Policies at OECD Investment Committee Sessions

USCIB and its international affiliate partners through Business at OECD (BIAC) remain on the front lines, defending solid, pro-investment policies at multilateral fora this fall.  

USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson participated in the UN Committee on Trade and Development’s (UNCTAD) seventh World Investment Forum (WIF) as part of the Global Leader’s Investment Summit on October 19. “Now more than ever, it is important for international organizations like the UN and its member governments to provide the necessary welcoming environment for foreign direct investment in quality industry and infrastructure projects that help with pandemic relief and sustainable economic growth,” said Robinson. Otherwise, the pandemic exacerbated investment gap will persist with the developing world most at risk.”   

Robinson also called for a strong and sustained role for industry, as a key stakeholder, in the discussion on investment at UNCTAD, the UN Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL), the OECD or elsewhere. His remarks were echoed by other industry representatives and welcomed by some developing countries like Egypt. Opposing views were led by development economist Jeffrey Sachs and countries like Pakistan that would like to see radical reform of the investor state dispute settlement mechanism and reduction or elimination of protections for foreign investors.   

USCIB Senior Advisor Shaun Donnelly was a lead private sector speaker at a parallel “experts meeting on International Investment Agreements in the same virtual UNCTAD World Investment Forum week. Donnelly forcefully defended investor protections, including a strong Investor-State Dispute settlement System (“ISDS”) as necessary protection against host government discriminatory or unfair treatment of foreign investors.  

There was discussion at WIF of establishing a multi-stakeholder “World Investment for Development Alliance” to facilitate greater collaboration between intergovernmental organizations, business entities, academic initiatives and civil society groups and to develop enabling frameworks to address international investment and sustainable development outcomes. USCIB will follow this proposal closely to ensure our active participation.

Donnelly and BIAC Investment Committee Chair Winand Quaedvlieg (Netherlands) led BIAC’s participation in the OECD Investment Committee’s semi-annual fall meetings. In a free-wheeling brainstorming session on investment treaties on October 28, Donnelly made a major intervention that a government’s right to regulate is not a right to discriminate or abuse investors, to be arbitrary or to be non-transparent.  He pointed out that “policy space” promoted by some governments and NGO participants should not translate into a “carte blanche” for governments to treat investors badly.  But unfortunately, according to Donnelly, some governments continue to do just that, underscoring the need for strong investor protections.   

Donnelly also joined Chairman Quaedvlieg on October 27 at a formal “stakeholder consultation” with the OECD Investment Committee leadership.  That session, where BIAC joins with labor union representatives from the Trade Union Advisory Council (TUAC) as well as civil society group OECD Watch, was an opportunity for each of the stakeholders to lay down priorities and basic positions on future work in the OECD Investment Committee.   

Donnelly and USCIB Director for Investment, Trade and China Alice Slayton Clark, remained engaged this fall in informal consultations with U.S. government leaders to press the importance of investor state dispute settlement and positive Biden Administration messaging on the investment climate. The messages built on the above, encouraging conducive taxation frameworks, facilitation of administrative procedures, complementary public investments in modern infrastructure and the right mind- and skill sets, and sound investment protection and general predictability. 

Finally of note, USCIB continues to work with BIAC to share business views with respect to development of the OECD Foreign Direct Investment Qualities toolkit, designed to help policymakers create an enabling environment for attracting Foreign Direct Investment that safeguards key sustainability goals: productivity and innovation; employment, job quality and skills; gender equality; and, low-carbon transition. The toolkit is earmarked as a key deliverable for next fall’s OECD Ministerial Council Meeting. 

According to Clark, “All of these interventions provided a great opportunity for USCIB to remind government officials at the national and international level of the importance of foreign direct investment to economic development, recovery and sustainability, particularly in the face of a pandemic induced downturn.  As such, we must continue to maintain strong investor protections in international investment agreements.”   

USCIB Leads Business Policy Roundtable as Part of Brazil’s Accession to OECD 

The Brazil OECD Business Policy Roundtable brought together U.S. and Brazilian government officials, the OECD and industry representatives in early November to discuss taxation reform and best practices as Brazil seeks to accede to the OECD.  According to USCIB Director for Investment, Trade and China Alice Slayton Clark, this is the latest of the several forums held by the Brazil Roundtable to explore changes to policy and practice – in line with OECD standards and best practices – that benefit businesses and employees while driving inclusive economic growth in Brazil.

Isaias Coelho, special advisor to Brazil’s Ministry of Economy, and Sandro de Vargas Serpa, undersecretary of Taxation and Litigation at the Federal Revenue of Brazil (RFB), detailed the regulations and legislative proposals under consideration that would simplify taxes at the state, federal and municipal levels, reforming consumption, income and international taxation practices.

“Brazil is currently undertaking significant regulatory reforms consistent with OECD guidelines including Recommendations of the Council on Regulatory Policy and Governance,” said Coelho. The ultimate hope, according to Mario Sergio Carraro Telles, executive manager of Economics for the Brazil Industry Association, is to adopt laws that simplify the tax system and reduce costs and uncertainty for companies.

Brazil has been working since 2018 in a dialogue with OECD on transfer pricing, which has evolved into a project aimed at aligning the existing transfer pricing regime with the OECD standard.  This joint project was made possible with the support of UK Prosperity Fund and other OECD countries who share their experience and best practices with Brazil. The United States has bolstered this process through technical assistance and training, asserted John Hughes, director of Advanced Pricing and Mutual Agreement Program of the U.S. Internal Revenue Service.

According to OECD Senior Advisor Tomas Balco, current policies in Brazil end up double taxing multinationals, deterring foreign investment and preventing Brazil from participating fully in global value chains. Luiz de Medeiros, Brazil country manager for IBM and a USCIB member, provided details from an industry perspective, expressing “great hope” that Brazil laws can be aligned with OECD norms.  Toward that end, Flávio Antônio Gonçalves Martins Araújo, head of the International Relations Office at RFB, reported that Brazil Administration currently is working on a legislative proposal to submit to Congress and start a political discussion in 2022 on a new transfer pricing law.

“It is clear from the speakers that the mood is right for reform in Brazil, and efforts are being made despite the economic challenges posed by the pandemic,” said Clark. “We hope these roundtables can inform and inspire in that regard, offering solutions for change that ease the economic burden for all.”

USCIB led the meeting, along with cohorts from the Brazil-U.S. Business Council of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Brazil’s National Industry Confederation (CNI). As the official U.S. representative to Business at OECD (BIAC), USCIB has been actively monitoring Brazil’s accession request to the OECD in order to advance business interest.

Additional roundtable discussions will be held throughout 2022, covering investment and trade, environment and sustainable development, as well as innovation and intellectual property.  Digital and regulatory issues were discussed earlier this year.

Herzog Joins Sweden Foreign Minister Linde in Discussing Women’s Economic Empowerment

Gabriella Rigg Herzog

USCIB Vice President for Corporate Responsibility and Labor Affairs Gabriella Rigg Herzog joined a panel discussion organized jointly by the government of Sweden and the International Labor Organization (ILO) titled, “Women’s Empowerment and Worker Rights in a Post-Pandemic World” on November 12.

Moderated by The American Prospect Editor-at-Large Harold Meyerson, the event included other speakers such as Swedish Ambassador to the U.S. Karin Olofsdotter, Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs Ann Linde, AFL-CIO International Department Director Catherine Feingold and U.S. Department of Labor Deputy Undersecretary for the Bureau for International Labor Affairs Thea Lee.

In her remarks, Herzog joined with other panelists in raising concerns over the disproportionate impact the pandemic has had on women, and the risk of backsliding on the gains made to date for women’s economic empowerment in the workplace. The conversation also turned to the issue of global supply chains and their possible role in advancing good practices regarding women’s rights and worker rights. In responding, Herzog noted many positive company efforts, and underscored the irreplaceable need at national levels for good governance, rule of law and effective enforcement of laws that meet international standards.

On the latter point, Herzog shared examples of discriminatory legislation in far too many jurisdictions holding women back. “Removing legal restrictions that hinder women from participating in the formal labor market and having formal self-employment opportunities such as proper access to finance for female entrepreneurs is key to addressing inequalities,” Herzog emphasized, noting the importance of joint efforts by governments, employers and workers to tackle shared challenges and priorities.

In terms of concrete policy recommendations, Herzog noted those put forward on October 7, 2021 in the “B20 – Special Initiative on Women Empowerment” policy paper, such as eliminating legal and cultural barriers to paid work and actively upskilling female workers.

Additionally, Herzog highlighted the key role employer organizations play as democratic institutions supporting small and medium sized businesses – especially at national levels –with training, tools and peer-exchanges on how to promote and advocate for gender equality and diversity at the workplace.

USCIB Staff Meet With New Zealand Ambassador; Discuss Trade and Investment Agenda

Left to right: Hannah Lee-Darboe, Ambassador Rosemary Banks, Peter Robinson

USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson welcomed New Zealand Ambassador Rosemary Banks and her New York-based colleague the New Zealand Consul General and Trade Commissioner Hannah Lee-Darboe to USCIB’s New York office on November 15.

Robinson was joined by USCIB Senior Vice President Brian Lowry and Senior Director Alice Slayton Clark, both of whom tuned into the meeting remotely from USCIB’s Midwest and Washington, DC, offices, respectively.

“We greatly welcomed the opportunity to meet with Ambassador Banks and her colleague, who were interested in discussing perspectives on economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and future U.S. trade policy directions,” said Robinson. “We stressed our interest in and commitment to revitalizing the trade and investment agenda, specifically at the Asia-Pacific regional level, and more broadly at the multilateral level with a stronger World Trade Organization. My colleagues and I also provided insights into the divergent U.S. public views on trade depending on geographic location, political views and direct personal relevance of international trade.”

USCIB staff also expressed general appreciation for New Zealand’s role as host of APEC in 2021 and its global leadership in the trade space.