G20 Trade Ministers Release Statement on COVID-19

The G20 Trade Ministers met virtually on March 30 amid the COVID-19 pandemic to discuss stepping up cooperation and coordination to protect human life and lay the foundations for a strong economic recovery and a sustainable, balanced and inclusive growth after the crisis. Following the meeting, the Trade Ministers posted a statement.

The statement emphasized: “As we fight the pandemic both individually and collectively and seek to mitigate its impacts on international trade and investment, we will continue to work together to deliver a free, fair, non-discriminatory, transparent, predictable and stable trade and investment environment, and to keep our markets open.”

USCIB Senior Vice President Rob Mulligan noted the significance of all G20 members being able to agree on this statement as a much-needed coordinated response to the crisis and is hopeful that governments will soon follow up with more specific action items they will implement to keep trade open and facilitate the flow of essential goods for dealing with the COVID-19 crisis.

In advance of the G20 Trade Ministers meeting, the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) sent a letter from its Secretary General John Denton, which included ten concrete actions that trade ministers can take now to speed up the health response for COVID-19 and minimize the economic damage.  It also included points on the need to maintain momentum on World Trade Organization (WTO) reform and e-commerce negotiations.

Virtual ICANN Meeting Focuses on Domain Name System Abuse

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the International Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) held its first virtual meeting, March 7-12. The week-long meeting was originally scheduled to take place in Cancun, Mexico and gather thousands of participants. According to USCIB Vice President for ICT Policy Barbara Wanner, who participated virtually, “Although the virtual format did not enable the face-to-face engagement that constitutes the ‘ICANN DNA,’ in ICANN President Goran Marby’s words, ICANN 67 nevertheless enabled the stakeholder community to engage in discussions on a prioritized set of domain names system (DNS) issues and move forward current work-streams.”

In particular, ICANN’s Business Constituency (BC), of which Wanner serves as representative to the Commercial Stakeholder Group (CSG) and which also includes several USCIB members, reiterated acute concerns expressed at ICANN 66 about inaction by ICANN Org and the contracted parties in mitigating domain name system (DNS) abuse that escalates by the day. ICANN insisted that it expects registry operators to enforce their agreements with registrars prohibiting DNS abuse, but current contractual language does not enable it to “enforce this expectation.”

By the meeting’s end, ICANN Compliance had agreed to facilitate dialogue between the BC and registries/registrars about possible contractual amendments or other mechanisms that would better enable the contracted parties and ICANN to go after the chronic bad actors, estimated to be between fifteen and twenty.

Also related to DNS Abuse, members of the Commercial Stakeholders Group (CSG) pressed ICANN to resume implementation of the policy outcomes of the Working Group for Privacy and Proxy Services Accreditation Issues (PPSAI). ICANN suspended this work on grounds that it needed to determine how the Expedited Policy Development Process (EPDP) relating to publication of DNS registration data  would affect the PPSAI’s previous work. In the meantime, as several CSG members noted, bad actors have been abusing proxy services offered by registrars, which originally were designed to protect the privacy of legitimate domain name users.

Finally, the ICANN community had many questions for members of the ICANN Board about their role in vetting the Public Interest Registry’s (PIR) sale to private equity firm Ethos Capital. The $1.135 billion deal would put a for-profit company in charge of a domain (.org) that generally has been assigned to non-profit entities.

USCIB and Business Fights Poverty Host Virtual Session on COVID-19 Business Impact

How can business best deal with the COVID-19 challenge? In an effort to answer this critical question, USCIB partnered with Business Fights Poverty (BFP) to host an online “challenge” discussion on March 19. USCIB Vice President for Innovation and Product Policy Mike Michener was on the panel, joined by USCIB policy staff and representatives of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), the International Organization of Employers (IOE) and Business at OECD.

The USCIB Foundation’s Business Partners for Sustainable Development (BPSD) initiative Executive Director Dr. Scott Ratzan joined BFP’s Co-founder and CEO Zahid Torres-Rahman and Harvard Kennedy School’s Myriam Sidibe for the online discussion, supported by a panel of leading executives from business, civil society, the United Nations and the UK government. The discussion began with an evaluation of the current situation, and the impact on business and others. This was followed by dialogue on the immediate priorities for business, including best practices.  The panel ended by weighing how business can partner with others to support immediate action, and well as longer-term resilience.

Michener said, “We are all in this together, and partnerships are key to solving all of the problems posed by this crisis – health, economic, and protecting the most vulnerable. I appreciated the opportunity to engage in the valuable BFP discussion, and I look forward to continuing the conversation.”

The USCIB Foundation’s program, Business Partnership for Sustainable Development, with Business Fights Poverty.

USCIB Congratulates Daren Tang on New Role as WIPO Director General

Daren Tang
Photo Credit: EPA-EFE

USCIB issued a statement on March 5, congratulating Daren Tang, Singapore’s chief executive of intellectual property, on his election to the post of director general for the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

The WIPO Coordination Committee, which comprises eighty-three member states, met on March 4, and held two rounds of voting from an initial list of six candidates. According to USCIB Vice President for Product Policy and Innovation Mike Michener, Kazakhstan’s candidate withdrew her candidacy ahead of the first round of voting. Following the first round, the candidate with the least votes, from Peru, was eliminated. Two other candidates – from Colombia and Ghana – withdrew their candidatures ahead of the second round of voting. Tang prevailed in the second and final round of voting with fifty-five votes; China’s Binying Wang received twenty-eight votes. The WIPO General Assembly will meet in an extraordinary session on May 7-8, 2020, to confirm the Coordination Committee’s nomination.

The term of the current Director General, Francis Gurry, ends on September 30, 2020. A delegation of USCIB members met with Director General Gurry during USCIB Geneva Week in May 2019.

USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson commended WIPO member states and the U.S. Administration for supporting Mr. Tang:

“The election of Mr. Tang as Director General of the WIPO is good news for American business and entrepreneurs, as well as for the global economy and rule-of-law.  Mr. Tang understands the importance of intellectual property rights to all those whose livelihoods depend on the ingenuity and creative genius of inventors, artists and the companies who employ them. There is a clear correlation between economic growth and the development of new inventions, technologies and creative products that are protected by patents, trademarks and copyrights.  USCIB applauds the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Director Andrei Iancu, Ambassador Andrew Bremberg and his team in Geneva, and the State Department Bureau of International Organization Affairs for their hard work and support of Mr. Tang’s candidacy. We look forward to continuing our work with WIPO to protect intellectual property as a means of driving global innovation, investment, and economic opportunity.”

USCIB Priorities for the World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly

Ahead of November’s World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly (WTSA-20) in Hyderabad, India, USCIB prepared priorities for the U.S. government delegation to pursue. The recommended priorities included avoiding premature regulation or standardization of emerging technologies to ensure future investments in markets all over the world, avoiding top-down mandates on internet protocols, and advocating for resolutions that bind the scope of study groups to the ITU Telecommunication Standardization Sector’s (ITU-T) telecommunication/ICTs remit.

“USCIB holds in high value the work of the ITU-T in the development of international standards that promote the interoperability of telecommunication networks. In recent years, however, the T-Sector’s workstream has expanded into areas in which we do not believe the ITU has the expertise or mandate,” said USCIB Vice President for ICT Policy Barbara Wanner. “The WTSA-20 presents a key opportunity to ensure that the ITU-T’s structure and work program remain firmly rooted in its technical telecommunication/ICT standardization core competency. USCIB is committed to working with the U.S. Government to identify opportunities for constructive engagement that helps to advance U.S. policy objectives.”

The letter also stressed that further expanding the WTSA’s work program beyond its proper remit would compromise the industry’s ability to address Internet governance-related issues and explore standards and best practices for emerging technologies that are more effectively addressed in existing multistakeholder policymaking and standards-setting bodies.

USCIB Supports Event on Gender Equality in Sciences, Education

In celebration of the five years since the United Nations formally recognized the need to increase gender equality in the sciences to support implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Royal Academy of Sciences International Trust (RASIT), with co-sponsorship from USCIB and the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), hosted the 5th International Day of Women and Girls in Science Assembly from February 11-12 at the UN headquarters in New York.

The event drew widespread support and interest from countries such as Hungary, Zambia, Montenegro, St. Kitts and Nevis and Portugal, as well as UN agencies, including the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and the International Telecommunications Union (ITU). Academics, UN officials, ambassadors, royalty, young scientists and business representatives, including USCIB Assistant Policy and Program Manager Daniella Goncalves, joined the event to discuss the forum’s theme of driving investment in equality in science, technology and innovation in the digitalization era for inclusive green growth.

According to Goncalves, several young women, as young as eleven, made inspiring interventions, detailing their efforts to bring about equity through robotics and coding applications, use of emerging technology in agriculture and irrigation, medicine and more.

“Together, the accounts illustrated a pressing need for movement in the gender pay gap, skilling and access to research, while simultaneously displaying the work of the next generation of female scientists and technologists in solving these issues,” said Goncalves.

Lithuanian Business Delegation (ICC Lithuania) Visits USCIB

The Lithuanian Business Confederation (LVK or ‘ICC Lithuania’) visited USCIB’s New York office on February 3 to meet with USCIB’s President and CEO Peter Robinson and other policy staff. LVK’s General Manager Andrius Nikitinas, Project Director Gabrielė Gaubienė and Senior Policy Advisor Ineta Rizgelė led the delegation of over twenty LVK member representatives.

With a membership base consisting mostly of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), the Lithuanian companies and industries represented included architecture, residential and commercial design, solar panel manufacturing, mattresses, software for cargo transportation and food.

“We appreciated the opportunity to meet with our ICC Lithuania partners,” noted USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson. “The meeting allowed us to better understand each other’s structures, policy priorities and target audiences.

 

 

Business at OECD Head Shares 2020 Policy Priorities With USCIB

Business at OECD’s Russel Mills (left, center) with IOE’s Shea GoPaul and USCIB policy staff

Secretary General of Business at OECD (BIAC) Russel Mills visited USCIB’s Washington DC and New York offices the week of February 3 to update staff on Business at OECD and OECD priorities for the year.

Mills shared that environment, biodiversity, plastics and climate change issues are moving to the top of the agenda, however there will also be a mushrooming of digitization plans and digital economy work related to changing business models and digitally enabled companies. Mills also noted that policies around digital taxation and re-skilling will be on top of the agenda for both organizations.

“We really valued our time with Russel, which gave us an opportunity to touch base on our respective organizations’ policy priorities,” said USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson. “USCIB looks forward to a productive year working with BIAC to help drive the work of the OECD.”

USCIB Statement on Signing of USMCA

Washington, D.C., January 29, 2020 – The U.S. Council for International Business (USCIB), which represents many of America’s leading global companies, welcomes today’s signing of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) trade agreement, updating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Over 12 million American jobs depend on trade with Canada and Mexico, so USMCA is an important agreement for U.S. industry for future economic growth.

“The agreement contains several provisions modernizing the original NAFTA, creating new opportunities for American companies and consumers,” said USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson. “However, USMCA also leaves room for improvement for future negotiations, so we look forward to continued dialogue with the Administration on ensuring critical protections will be upheld in future agreements.”

  • Digital Trade: USMCA contains a state of the art digital trade chapter, including prohibiting cross-border data flow restrictions and data localization requirements, prohibiting requirements for source code or algorithm disclosure or transfer as a condition for market access, prohibiting customs duties on electronic transmissions, provisions on consumer protection, privacy, cybersecurity and open government data. This new chapter allows companies to more effectively operate in the modern global economy.
  • Customs and Trade Facilitation: USMCA significantly updates the customs and trade facilitation provisions from the original NAFTA, ensuring that goods can efficiently flow in and out of the United States. The parties agreed on provisions related to trade facilitation, including the creation of a single-access window system and expedited customs procedures for express shipments. The agreement also includes commitments from Canada and Mexico to increase their de minimis levels, moving toward leveling the playing field for American companies.
  • Labor provisions: The original NAFTA was the first FTA to include labor provisions, though they were contained in side letters. USCMA brings the labor chapter into the agreement’s body, introduces strengthened labor provisions and makes them enforceable. The provisions require adherence to core labor standards of the International Labor Organization (ILO) and effective enforcement of national labor laws.
  • IP protections: USMCA contains important provisions protecting the intellectual property rights (IPR) of American companies, including protections on patents, copyright, trademarks and trade secrets, which are important for the ability of American companies to continue to innovate. One major omission, however, is the opportunity to fully protect biologics. The removal of increased market exclusivity of biologics in the final agreement is detrimental to American companies and consumers.
  • Investment: Protections for American companies when investing in Canada or Mexico are vital to ensure continued growth and development. USMCA contains such protections for many sectors, however does not fully protect all American companies across the board by significantly limiting access to the dispute settlement mechanism. In addition, even the limited dispute settlement mechanism is only available with Mexico, so for investment disputes with Canada, American investors have to rely on mechanisms outside of the newly negotiated agreement. Picking winners and losers for investment protection is not an appropriate precedent for U.S. FTAs going forward.

USCIB looks forward to entry into force and effective implementation of this important trade deal for U.S. business, and increased trade opportunities for our members.

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.

Contacts:

Kira Yevtukhova, USCIB
+1 202.617.3160,
kyevtukhova@uscib.org
Glen Brandow, USCIB
+1 212.703.5043,
gbrandow@uscib.org

ICC Comments to ITU Emphasize Enabling Environment

In an effort to inform the work of the United Nations about the tremendous potential of emerging ICT-technologies to help realize economic and social prosperity, USCIB has been working with the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) over the past several years to develop policy papers and statements. On January 22, USCIB submitted comments to the Open Consultation convened by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) Working Group on International Internet-related Public Policy Issues, which focused on required components that would foster the development and disseminations of emerging technologies for sustainable economic development. Importantly, this approach would help to meet specific targets of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

According to USCIB Vice President for ICT Policy Barbara Wanner, these components go beyond simply building infrastructure. The components include a foundation composed of infrastructure, applications and services and user engagement, a layer composed of policy issues – economic, technical, social/cultural, governance, and another layer featuring participation of relevant stakeholders from business, government, civil society and the technical community to inform the policymaking process.

USCIB cited ICT, Policy and Sustainable Economic Development, a policy paper prepared by the ICC Commission on the Digital Economy with active contributions from USCIB members, as the basis for its comments.

“We urge the ITU to use this document as a reference since underlying elements of the framework – everything from infrastructure and spectrum allocation, to data protection and cross border data flows, to digital skill development and access – will continue to be necessary to effectively harness the benefits of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and other emerging technologies going forward,” said Wanner.

USCIB also endorsed comments submitted by ICC BASIS as part of this public consultation.