USCIB Attends UN Biodiversity Deliberations as Accredited Organization

The UN Convention on Biological Diversity (UN CBD) has just concluded a scientific and technical round of deliberations, held from November 25 – 29. USCIB Vice President for Environment, Energy and Strategic International Engagement Norine Kennedy attended the meetings in Montreal, representing USCIB as an accredited business organization, and as the only U.S. private sector group on hand for the session.

The UN CBD is currently developing a post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, to be finalized in October 2020 at its 15th Conference of the Parties (COP15), which will be hosted by China. According to Kennedy, the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework will be a comprehensive agreement that will include new targets relating to the protection and sustainable use of biodiversity.

The Montreal CBD meeting reviewed a wide range of topics including scientific assessments of biodiversity and ecosystems, Digital Sequencing Information (DSI), links between climate change and biodiversity, as well as emerging issues.

USCIB is re-engaging in the UN CBD process following discussions in USCIB’s newly launched Biodiversity Working Group, working closely with the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) Working Group and the Global Industry Coalition (GIC).

Following the meeting in Montreal, Kennedy stated that, “Since the U.S. has never signed the UN CBD or its Protocols on Bio-safety and on Access and Benefit Sharing, USCIB is currently assessing potential impacts and opportunities for its members while tracking the process leading up to COP15.”

Trade Conference Focuses on Inclusive Global Economy

Amid backlash to increased international trade and rising populism and protectionism across the globe, the Institute of Human Rights and Business (IHRB) held a conference on December 3 in London entitled Next Generation Trade: Building a Principled, People-Centred Global Economy. USCIB Vice President for Corporate Responsibility and Labor Affairs Gabriella Rigg Herzog and Senior Director for Investment, Trade and Financial Services Eva Hampl represented USCIB.

The conference focused on the issue of building a principled, people-centered global economy, and highlighted issues including climate, the future of work, the multilateral trading system, inclusive trade, and data and technology.

USCIB is very active in the space of trade and investment, as well as corporate responsibility and business and human rights.

“With an increasing public focus on international trade, it is imperative for the business voice to be heard in a variety of fora, emphasizing the message that trade and investment are vital contributors to economic growth and development,” said Hampl.

USCIB continues to believe that the World Trade Organization (WTO) is a pillar of the multilateral trading system and that the value of this trade institution cannot be overstated, and its continued existence is critical.

Stakeholders at IGF Seek to Avoid Fragmentation of the Internet

L-R: Barbara Wanner, USCIB (moderator); Ben Wallis, Microsoft; Jane Coffin, Internet Society; Alex Cooke, Government of Australia; and David Gierten, OECD

The fourteenth Internet Governance Forum (IGF) wrapped up on November 29 with an invigorated call from stakeholders for an Internet governance mechanism that preserves the IGF’s multistakeholder model and expands its institutional capabilities, amid warnings from UN and German officials about the potential fragmenting of the Internet. USCIB Vice President for ICT Policy Barbara Wanner attended the four-day IGF in Berlin and reported from the field.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who formally opened the IGF on November 26, warned of the crippling effect of growing nationalism that will increasingly fracture the Internet. “The [digital] infrastructure has become the very core of our global economy… [but] there are some who remain in their little bubble and do not actually exchange views with people who are of a different opinion and that is one of the challenges that we face in this overall development of the Internet,” she said.

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres offered a similarly dire outlook, telling the IGF audience that the today’s “accessible, free, secure and open Internet is at risk of fracturing along three intersecting lines … a profound digital divide, a social divide and a political divide.”

According to Wanner, Merkel and Guterres concurred that a comprehensive dialogue involving all stakeholders – citing the IGF as a model – can help to prevent such fragmentation, as this approach best ensures a healthy and thriving digital economy that can realize the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), connect the unconnected and bridge the digital skills gap. “The Internet must not and cannot be shaped only by governments alone because the basic issues revolving around the Internet have an impact on each and everyone’s life, and this is why we need a multistakeholder approach,” Merkel said.

“Against this backdrop, USCIB members who spoke in various workshops highlighted the importance of digital transformation by sharing business best practices and case studies that demonstrate how business’ digital innovations have improved people’s lives and livelihoods, created new commercial and employment opportunities and provided cultural connections,” said Wanner. “Their messages as workshops speakers and in bilateral meetings with UN officials and various government delegations also emphasized the importance of the multistakeholder model in considering the complexity of digital economy issues. In this regard, USCIB members reaffirmed their support for an adequately funded “IGF-Plus” architecture for Internet governance, proposed by the UN High-Level Panel on Digital Cooperation (HLPDC).”

Joining Wanner were members from Amazon, AT&T, CCIA, Disney, Facebook, Google, ITI, Microsoft, Verisign and Verizon.

2020 OECD Tax Conference

SAVE THE DATE!

Four Seasons Hotel, Washington

June 1: 8:30am – 7:30pm
June 2: 8:00am – 1:00pm

2019 Agenda with Confirmed Speakers

Now in its 15th year, this annual conference 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”) as well as key members of the OECD’s Committee on Fiscal Affairs: including Pascal Saint-Amans, Director, CTPA, and Grace Perez-Navarro, Deputy Director, CTPA. 2019 speakers included Martin Kreienbaum, Chair of the OECD’s Committee on Fiscal Affairs and Director General for International Taxation at the German Federal Ministry of Finance, and Lafayette “Chip” Harter, Deputy Assistant Secretary – International Tax Affairs. Last year’s conference focused mainly on the OECD’s work on a global solution to the tax challenges posed by the digitalization of the economy. This work is on a fast track, with the G20 having asked OECD to deliver a global solution in 2020, with an update given in June 2019. With G20 Finance Ministers meeting in Japan a few days after the conference, this event provided participants a unique opportunity to hear and discuss the latest developments on this important issue.

2019 Agenda with Confirmed Speakers

Speaker Biographies

Information for Participants

Hotel Room Block

2019 Key Topics:

  • Four sessions on the Tax Challenges of Digitalization covering Pillar 1 – Profit Allocation and Nexus, Pillar 2 – Minimum Taxes and Taxes on Base Eroding Payments and next steps
  • Tax Treaties and the Multilateral Instrument
  • Improving Tax Certainty – ICAP and MAP
  • Transfer Pricing
  • The International Tax Implications of Brexit

2019 Featured Speakers:

  • Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala – Economist and International Development Expert with over 30 years of experience working in Asia, Africa, Central Europe and Latin America (Keynote Speaker)
  • Pascal Saint-Amans – Director, Centre for Tax Policy and Administration, OECD
  • Grace Perez-Navarro – Deputy Director, Centre for Tax Policy and Administration, OECD
  • Peter Robinson – President and CEO, USCIB
  • Russel Mills – Secretary General, Business at OECD
  • Martin Kreienbaum – Director General, International Taxation, Federal Ministry of Finance, Germany
  • Mike Williams – Director, Business and International Tax, HM Treasury, United Kingdom
  • Alexandra MacLean – Director General, International and Large Business Directorate, Canada Revenue Agency
  • Harry Roodbeen – Director, International Tax and Consumer Tax, Ministry of Finance, The Netherlands
  • Gael Perraud – Co-Chair, OECD Task Force on the Digital Economy; Director of International Taxation and European Affairs, Ministry of Economy and Finance, France
  • Lafayette (Chip) G. Harter – Deputy Assistant Secretary (International Tax Affairs), U.S. Treasury
  • Doug O’Donnell – Commissioner, Large Business and International (LB&I) Division, IRS
  • John C. C. Hughes, Director, APMA, Large Business and International (LB&I) Division, IRS
  • Achim Pross – Head of International Cooperation and Tax Administration, Centre for Tax Policy and Administration, OECD
  • Tomas Balco – Head of the Transfer Pricing Unit, Centre for Tax Policy and Administration, OECD
  • Sophie Chatel – Head of the Tax Treaty Unit, Centre for Tax Policy and Administration, OECD
  • Richard Collier – Senior Advisor, Centre for Tax Policy and Administration, OECD
  • Michael Graetz – Professor of Tax Law, Columbia Law School
  • Will Morris – Chairman, Business at OECD Committee on Taxation and Fiscal Affairs; Vice Chair, USCIB Tax Committee
  • Bill Sample – Chairman, USCIB Tax Committee; Vice Chair, Business at OECD Committee on Taxation and Fiscal Affairs
  • Tim McDonald – Vice Chair, USCIB Tax Committee
  • Louise Weingrod – Vice Chair, USCIB Tax Committee
  • Other Senior Treasury and Foreign Tax Policy Officials

For more information, including how to be placed on the waiting list, please contact Erin Breitenbucher (202-682-7465 or ebreitenbucher@uscib.org).

More on USCIB’s Taxation Committee

2019 Sponsors:

PWC

 

Black Deloitte Logo

exxonmobil

 

 

For information on how to become a sponsor, please contact Abby Shapiro (617-515-8492 or ashapiro@uscib.org). 

 

Presented by:

USCIB logo

OECD

In association with:

IFA Logo
ITPF
NFTC logo

Tax Executives Institute, Inc.

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

New OECD Deputy Secretary General Meets With USCIB (11/11/2019) - USCIB members and staff had the opportunity to meet with the new Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Deputy
USCIB Urges Treasury to Work With OECD on Digital Taxation (10/8/2019) - USCIB Urges Treasury to Work With OECD on Digital Taxes

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

 

OECD Turns to Practical Implementation of AI, Privacy Guidelines

“Practical implementation” was an underlying theme at the recent discussions of the OECD Committee on Digital Economy Policy (CDEP), according to USCIB Vice President for ICT Policy Barbara Wanner, who reported from the field. The meetings took place November 18-22  at OECD headquarters in Paris. Wanner reported that having devoted more than a year to crafting the Council Recommendation on Artificial Intelligence, CDEP delegates and stakeholders discussed a paper outlining guidance on the implementation of the AI Recommendation, as well as the complementary AI Policy Observatory.

In a similar spirit, the Privacy Guidelines Expert Group (PGEG), which was convened to advance the mandated five-year review of the 2013 OECD Guidelines Governing the Protection of Privacy and Transborder Flows of Personal Data (the “Privacy Guidelines”), held a workshop on November 18 to explore the practicalities of operationalizing international cooperation in enforcement of privacy protections as well as consider the impact of AI on personal data protection and implementation of the Privacy Guidelines.

“Under the auspices of Business at OECD, USCIB members stepped up at the November CDEP meetings, intervening to underscore the importance of interoperability of privacy regulations to build trust and facilitate cross-border data flows for economic growth and prosperity,” said Wanner.

Citing Business at OECD’s Guiding Principles for the Review of the 2013 Privacy Guidelines, Wanner emphasized, “a consistent global approach to privacy will help companies of all sizes comply with [privacy laws], expand their commercial activities, and in turn grown their national economies with related employment benefits.”

Concerning implementation of the OECD’s AI Principles, Barry O’Brien (IBM Ireland), who chairs the Business at OECD delegation to the AI Experts Group, applauded the OECD’s proposed practical guidance as “building on the excellent work on the AI Principles and promoting the adoption and implementation of trustworthy AI.”

USCIB members actively shaped the development of the AI Recommendation as participants on a special AI Experts Group and are currently feeding business input to the PGEG.  USCIB members also made influential interventions concerning the proposed CDEP Program of Work and Budget 2020-2021 (PWB), work on online platforms, and key topics under the purview of the Working Party on Communications Infrastructures and Services Policy (CISP), such a draft report on price baskets for bundled communication services.

Joining Wanner were USCIB member representatives from Amazon, AT&T, CCIA, Comcast, Deloitte & Touche, Facebook, Microsoft and TMG Legal.

Hampl Weighs In On WTO Discussions on E-Commerce

The sixth negotiating round of the Joint Statement Initiative (JSI) on E-Commerce is taking place at the WTO in Geneva this week. The JSI is negotiating a plurilateral agreement on digital trade, also referred to as the WTO E-Commerce Agreement. USCIB Senior Director, Investment Trade and Financial Services Eva Hampl is on the ground in Geneva this week on behalf of USCIB and members in support of this important initiative at the WTO, which attempts to write global rules on digital trade.

The JSI started out with seventy-six WTO members and as of this week that number has risen to 81, with Indonesia being the latest to join the plurilateral effort. Issues discussed this week include customs duties, access to internet and data, business trust, capacity building, legal issues, and market access.

“This will be the final round before the WTO General Council meeting taking place December 9-11 in Geneva. Negotiations are expected to resume in the new year at a similar pace, with an eye toward an outcome by MC12 in June 2020,” stated Hampl.

Earlier this year, USCIB issued recommendations on the E-Commerce negotiations, reflecting member priorities, including issues like data flows and localization. USCIB is actively engaging with governments involved in the negotiations in Geneva through various efforts, including the Digital Trade Network and the International Chamber of Commerce.

On Thursday, November 21, USCIB is supporting a side event by the ICC on the Moratorium on Customs Duties on Electronic Transmission (E-Commerce Moratorium), which is currently expiring at the end of the year. The panel will discuss the implications of not extending the moratorium, including in the context of the recent OECD Report. At this time, fifteen WTO members have proposed to extend the Moratorium until MC12 in June 2020. In order for an extension to be possible, unanimous support is required.

Domain Name System Abuse: A Hot Topic at Recent ICANN Meetings

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) wrapped up six days of annual meetings on November 7 in Montreal, Quebec, which featured, at times, heated debate about the roles of ICANN and the contracted parties in mitigating domain name system (DNS) abuse and related security problems. According to USCIB Vice President for ICT Policy Barbara Wanner,  who attended the meetings in her capacity as the Business Constituency’s (BC) representative to the Commercial Stakeholder Group (CSG), while security threats and the way the ICANN community tracks, reports, and mitigates them have always been an important focus of ICANN’s work, attention to this issue has intensified in recent months amid reports of sharp increases in phishing attacks and studies estimating that the cost of global cybercrime reached approximately $600 million in 2018.

“ICANN’s Business Constituency (BC), of which USCIB is a member, highlighted profound gaps in DNS abuse mitigation throughout the week’s meetings with the ICANN Board, senior ICANN staff, and other constituencies and the need to clarify definitions of abuse and aggressively enforce against offenders,” said Wanner.

According to Wanner, participants at ICANN 66, the organization’s Annual General Meeting, continued to advance discussions about the building blocks of a model to enable third-party access to nonpublic domain name system registration data for legitimate purposes that would comply with EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and other privacy regimes. The draft model may be finalized as soon as December, more probably in early 2020, following receipt of legal advice from the European Data Protection Board (DPB).

The meeting also continued to explore how to evolve ICANN’s multistakeholder model to improve its efficiency and effectiveness as part of the FY 2021-2025 Strategic Plan as well as other DNS management issues.

Wanner’s role as BC representative to the CSG has enabled greater input to policy discussions at the CSG executive committee-level on behalf of USCIB members and facilitated important meetings with senior ICANN officials and other key constituencies.  USCIB member representatives from Amazon, AT&T, BT Americas, CenturyLink, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and NBC Universal were present in Montreal and actively contributed to all policy discussions.

Focus on Sustainability, New Technologies at 2019 World Trade Symposium

USCIB once again sponsored the World Trade Symposium this year November 6-7 in New York. The Symposium, hosted by Finastra and programmed by The Economist Events, brought together researchers, government officials and private sector leaders to discuss “Trade in an Uncertain World.” According to USCIB Assistant Policy and Program Manager Daniella Goncalves, several themes emerged throughout the Symposium, including the impact of new technologies on trade and investment, the need for greater interoperability of new technologies, the importance of sustainability to trade and investment and the continued importance of free trade.

Political uncertainty took center stage during the event’s discussions. The rise of populism and protectionist policies, as well as perceived lack of efficiency and productivity in multilateral fora, were identified as threats to be addressed. Many participants expressed the need to reform multilateral institutions and reaffirmed their support for trade liberalization. The need for U.S. leadership in such reform and trade liberalization activities was highlighted as a priority. Participants were in agreement that the restoration of predictability, reciprocity and fairness is required to bolster global trade and investment.

Digitization has the ability to drive down costs and speed of getting goods to market, but standardization of data protection and date flow regulation are priorities. The importance of regulating data flows and the need for standardized data protection laws, new technologies and the issue of illicit trade were highlighted by several panelists, including the World Trade Organization (WTO) Deputy Director-General Ambassador Alan Wm. Wolff, Research Professor of International Affairs & Director of Digital Trade & Data Governance hub Susan Ariel Aaronson and President of the Mediterranean Shipping Company Fabio Santucci.

The use of blockchain was characterized as a means to more efficiently engage in trade and investment, as well as increase sustainability through decreased paper usage. However, interoperability of blockchains and standardization of regulatory frameworks remain hurdles to wide-spread deployment of this technology.

It was noted that the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) is working with an Asia-based partner to develop a blockchain technology to enable traceability and tracking of goods. The goal ultimately is to promote interoperability among various blockchain networks and technology platforms.

Recognizing the rise of consumer interest in sustainability, the issue of sustainable trade and investment was discussed. According to the panelists, millennial consumers are driving interest in and profitability of sustainable goods and services. Trade has lifted hundreds of millions out of poverty; to continue to see the benefits of trade, growth needs to be inclusive. USCIB is actively advocating on these important issues in various multilateral fora, including at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in Paris.

OECD Report Weighs In On WTO Moratorium Debate

The much-anticipated Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) report on the World Trade Organization (WTO) moratorium on customs duties on electronic transmissions was de-classified on November 4.

According to USCIB Senior Vice President for Policy and Government Affairs Rob Mulligan, the report, “Electronic transmissions and international trade – Shedding new light on the moratorium debate,” concludes that revenue implications of lifting the Moratorium are likely to be relatively small and would come at the expense of more significant gains in consumer welfare (estimated at 940 million USD) and export competitiveness.

The Moratorium, which has been in place since 1998 and has been continuously extended every couple of years since then, is once again due to expire at the end of 2019. Keeping the Moratorium is crucial for business, and USCIB has been actively engaged in pushing back against the opponents of extending the Moratorium with the ultimate goal of making it permanent.

The OECD report also notes that the highest estimated share of opportunity cost in terms of foregone revenue is in digitizable goods, which is low, at 1.2% of total trade. This will likely remain low even with the advent of technologies such as 3D printing, which are unlikely to have far-reaching implications on trade in the near term.

The report noted that tariffs also come with costs. Tariffs are associated with lower output and lower productivity and their burden falls mainly on domestic consumers, not foreign firms. Tariffs are also an unstable source of revenue. Alternatives exist in the form of non-discriminatory value added taxes or goods and services taxes.

The WTO General Council meeting, set for December 9-11, will provide a final opportunity to extend the Moratorium.