USTR Must Urge Canada and Mexico to Honor USMCA Commitments

USCIB joined the Alliance for Trade Enforcement (AFTE) to send a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Robert E. Lighthizer to ensure that Canada and Mexico abide by the commitment they have made in the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) and treat U.S. interests fairly.

The letter stated: “We applaud the sentiments that you expressed in your recent congressional testimony about your willingness to seek dispute settlement on issues of importance to U.S. manufacturing, agriculture and service sectors where those countries fall short, including patent, trademark and market access issues impacting innovative industries from both new and longstanding policies and regulations in Mexico and Canada.”

The group noted support for Lighthizer’s attention to the full enforcement of IP commitments made in the USMCA which protects U.S. IP-intensive industries, such as patent linkages and provisions to protect against abuses of the regulatory review exception, as well as broader market access barrier to innovative products, namely the lack of approvals for imported agricultural biotech products. AFTE argued that Mexico’s failure to approve such products threatens both trade with Mexico and U.S. farmers’ access to important technologies; meanwhile, Canada’s Patented Medicine Prices Review Board continues to develop and implement unfair pricing and reimbursement regulatory schemes that don’t account for the cost of research and development of innovative treatments, which ultimately reduces incentives for American scientists and manufactures to research and develop new treatments.

AFTE however applauded the important leap forward made by the USMCA’s digital trade provisions, which include key commitments and significant improvements over prior agreements.

AFTE is a coalition of trade associations and business groups dedicated to ending foreign unfair trade practices that harm American businesses and workers and to ensuring that America’s trading partners are held accountable for the commitments that they have made to treat American goods and services fairly. AFTE members represent companies – both large and small – from across the economy, including the manufacturing, agriculture, and service sectors. AFTE supports actions and policies that encourage U.S. trading partners to open their markets, reduce barriers to trade, and provide effective protection and enforcement of intellectual property (IP) rights.

USCIB, Business Groups Urge Administration to Prioritize US-China Deal

USCIB, along with dozens of U.S. business and industry groups, sent a letter to USTR Robert Lighthizer, U.S. Secretary of Treasury Steven Mnuchin and Vice Premier of China’s State Council Liu He strongly supporting the U.S.-China Phase One Trade Agreement noting its “significant achievement in ongoing efforts to advance a more balanced and mutually beneficial U.S.-China economic and commercial relationship.”

The letter also stated that successful implementation of Phase One will be critical to subsequent negotiation of a Phase Two Agreement.

The organizations noted that continuing fulfillment of the terms of the Agreement particularly with regards to Intellectual Property, removal of market access barriers and tariffs are critical. With regards to market access barriers, the letter focused on U.S. fruits, grains, and nearly all U.S. beef products, the expansion of its list of U.S. facilities eligible to export beef, pork, poultry, seafood, dairy and infant formula to China, as well as the adoption of new domestic standards for dairy powder that will allow imports from the United States.

“Meeting the global public health challenges from COVID-19 and restoring growth to the global economy will depend in part on both countries working together to fully implement the mutually beneficial outcomes of the Phase One Agreement,” the letter stated. “Thorough and timely implementation of Phase One commitments is also the most direct and achievable path to removal of tariffs—and to avoid application of new ones—on both sides, which the U.S. business community strongly supports.”

USCIB Opposes New IP Protocols at International Telecommunication Union

USCIB submitted recommendations on June 7 regarding industry priorities to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s (NTIA) that advance international communications and information policies at the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), as well as on matters that will be addressed at the 2020 World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly (WTSA-20). Most notably, USCIB’s comments expressed deep concern over the proposed “New IP protocol system,” which would be composed of a suite of protocols following a top-down design.

“We urge the U.S. government to strongly oppose this proposal,” said USCIB Vice President for ICT Policy Barbara Wanner. “The proposal would deploy new protocols that would not be compatible with standards already used by billions of devices, so it would result in fragmentation of the current operation of the internet. In fact, creation of a new protocol and network architecture in the ITU is likely to create the same kinds of interoperability problems that the proposals ostensibly want to avoid.”

Another concern is that use cases envisioned by said protocol are not sufficiently developed to be standardized by the ITU. The proposals aimed at developing a new IP protocol system should remain within the realm of research where they can see experimentation and measurement, rather than moving precipitously to standards that industry is expected to implement. Additional concerns outlined in USCIB’s comments are past failures of similar type of monolithic top-down architectures and the fact that many of the challenges identified in the “New IP protocol system” have been addressed or are currently being addressed.

“In our view, it is not the ITU’s role to impose a single technology or approach on a global scale,” added Wanner. “To reiterate, we urge the U.S. Government to strongly oppose resolutions supporting a New IP. Other parties involved in standardization share our concerns.”

USCIB is committed to working with the U.S. Government to identify opportunities for constructive engagement that helps to advance U.S. policy objectives. In its recommendations, USCIB emphasized that inputs of all stakeholders produce a flexible policy environment critical to empowering the rapidly evolving digital economy; stakeholder inclusion can lower the risk of unintended consequences and increase legitimacy and adoption of policies. The turbulent economic and political backdrop caused by the COVID-19 pandemic makes such multistakeholder participation even more important to ensure that Internet policy remains grounded in sound commercial, technical, and human rights-related expertise.

Other recommendations outlined by USCIB included the need to ensure a resilient, secure and diverse 5G supply chain.

To view USCIB’s comprehensive comments and recommendations, please click here.

USCIB Urges Administration to Remove China Tariffs on Products Needed to Fight COVID-19

USCIB submitted comments to the United States Trade Representative (USTR) on China tariffs on May 18. The comments focused on Additional Modifications to the 301 Action to Address COVID-19 in relation to China’s acts, policies and practices related to technology transfer, intellectual property and innovation.

As noted in previous comments that USCIB has submitted on 301 actions, USCIB continues to hold the position that tariffs stifle the U.S. economy and will not achieve the Administration’s goal of changing China’s behavior.

“Rather than creating more opportunities for U.S. business, sweeping tariffs restrict U.S. agriculture, goods, and services exports and raise costs for businesses and consumers,” said USCIB Senior Director for Investment, Trade and Financial Services Eva Hampl. The economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has amplified the negative impacts of the tariffs on companies’ supply chains and the U.S. economy.”

USCIB highlighted several products that should be removed from the tariff list, including medical equipment central to the diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19 response and of related ailments, as well as medical equipment parts, components and 3D printers.

The comments also highlight chemicals and plastics, which have been recognized for their critical role in the production of cleaning and disinfecting products, as well as medical equipment such as masks, diagnostic equipment and disposable gowns.

For a complete list of products and USCIB’s comments to USTR, please click here, please click here.

USCIB Congratulates Colombia on Formally Becoming OECD Member

Pictured from left: Iván Duque Márquez, President of the Republic of Colombia and Angel Gurría, Secretary-General of the OECD (Photo: OECD/Victor Tonelli)

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) announced that Colombia has formally become an OECD Member as of April 28, 2020. Colombia is the 37th country to do so in the Organization’s near 60-year history.

According to the OECD, Colombia has now completed its domestic procedures for ratification of the OECD Convention and deposited its instrument of accession. This brings to a successful conclusion an accession process that began in 2013.

“Colombia is an important market for many companies, and we commend Colombia on successfully concluding this lengthy process and committing to the high standards of the OECD,” said USCIB Senior Director for Trade, Investment and Financial Services Eva Hampl. As the official voice representing U.S. business in this process, USCIB was actively involved in providing input into Colombia’s accession process via Business at OECD (BIAC), the official business voice at the OECD.

OECD Member countries formally invited Colombia to join the Organization in May 2018, following a five-year accession process during which it underwent in-depth reviews by twenty-three OECD Committees and introduced major reforms to align its legislation, policies and practices to OECD standards. These spanned the breadth of policy fields including labor issues, reform of the justice system, corporate governance of state-owned enterprises, anti-bribery, trade, and the establishment of a national policy on industrial chemicals and waste management.

USCIB Comments on Negotiating Objectives for a US-Kenya Trade Agreement

Following the Administration’s recent notice to Congress that it is going to enter into negotiations with the Republic of Kenya for a U.S.-Kenya trade agreement, USCIB submitted comments on April 28 to offer its input on negotiating objectives.

USCIB’s comments offered support for a negotiation of a comprehensive trade agreement with Kenya as part of a broader strategy to open international markets for U.S. companies and remove barriers and unfair trade practices in support of economic growth and job creation.

“We strongly believe that free trade with Kenya is overwhelmingly in the interests of both countries and their global trading partners, provided that the agreement is a high standard and comprehensive bilateral trade and investment agreement,” said USCIB Senior Director for Trade, Investment and Financial Services Eva Hampl.

According to USCIB, reaching an agreement with Kenya is important for the United States because this would be the first trade agreement with a Sub-Saharan African country.

“Beyond Kenya, the Administration should continue ambitions to initiate trade negotiations with other African partners,” added Hampl.

USCIB stressed that a successful trade agreement with Kenya should be negotiated as a single, comprehensive agreement which covers comprehensive market access and national treatment for goods, services, investment and government procurement, and also addresses key rules issues as well.

Beyond Kenya, a high standard U.S.-Kenya FTA could serve as a benchmark for the further negotiation and implementation of the broader African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA), parts of which entered into force in May 2019, and is viewed as a great step forward for African trade modernization.

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.”

UN Climate Talks: Prominent Business Group Holds Dialogue, Welcomes New Members

USCIB’s Norine Kennedy

As in previous years, USCIB joined its global business partners to hold a Major Economies Business Forum (BizMEF) Business Dialogue during a United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) conference. This year’s UNFCCC 25th Conference of the Parties (COP25) is taking place in Madrid, Spain under the Chilean presidency.

This year’s Business Dialogue was hosted by the Spanish Confederation of Employers (CEOE) on December 8. Reaching an important milestone, this year’s Dialogue commemorated twenty-five years of business cooperation and involvement in the UN climate process. The latest Dialogue served as an important forum of discussion for emerging issues and institutional changes that are necessary to mobilize business knowhow and resources at every stage of climate policy and action.

BizMEF Business Dialogue at COP25

Senior government representatives of Chile, the European Commission, France, Japan, and the United Kingdom joined World Trade Organization (WTO), International Organization of Employers (IOE) and UNFCCC speakers at the Dialogue to share perspectives on integrated policy options inside and outside the UN climate process.

“We are here to mark this as what it must be – a turning point and inspiration to do even more and better, as well as involve more companies of all sectors sizes and nationalities on board,” said USCIB Vice President of Strategic International Engagement, Energy and Environment Norine Kennedy.

BizMEF members include major national and regional multi-sectoral business groups in developed and developing countries.  At the COP25 Business Dialogue, BizMEF welcomed two new partner organizations: CEOE and the Santiago Chamber of Commerce. USCIB serves as the Secretariat for BizMEF.

Please refer to USCIB’s COP25 Statement for more information on USCIB’s climate policy position.

USCIB Represents US Business Views at UN Climate Talks

The 25th United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties (COP) is in the home stretch, as Ministers meet in Madrid to seek political compromise on carbon markets and offsets, as well as to set the stage for pledges of deeper cuts in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

According to USCIB Vice President for Strategic International Engagement, Energy and Environment Norine Kennedy, who is reporting from the field, a fundamental goal of COP25 is to complete unfinished business from the previous year, specifically as it relates to the Paris Agreement and its provisions for carbon markets and offsets, often referred to as “Article 6”.

“Avoiding double-counting crediting for carbon sinks and determining whether a percentage of the value of carbon trade transactions will be allocated to developing countries are two unresolved issues for the business community here at COP25,” said Kennedy. She also noted that the validity of the Kyoto Protocol’s carbon “currency” to the new Paris Agreement carbon regime is also under development.

An additional imperative is the need for deeper and faster cuts in GHG emissions that are required to limit temperature rise to 1.5 degrees, and to get on track to a proposed 2050 net-carbon neutrality objective.

Additional issues yet to be resolved, but are closely being monitored by USCIB, are common timeframes to be covered by voluntary national GHG reduction pledges, known as NDCs, financial support to developing countries for GHG reductions and technology cooperation, as well as how to treat compensation for loss and damage from climate change-related impacts.

Over 30,000 are attending this COP, including Michael Bloomberg, Al Gore, John Kerry, Harrison Ford and other prominent figures have joined high-level government representatives, UN agencies and NGOs.

USCIB’s delegation, led by Kennedy and USCIB Policy Associate Claudia Herbert Colfer, included member representatives from Arkema, Bayer, Chevron, Mars and Novozymes. USCIB has been tracking the complex discussions, meeting with U.S. and other government delegations and partnering with key business groups.

The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) serves as focal point for business, convening daily business briefings to share intelligence and organizing the UNFCCC Business Day, which took place on December 6.

The two-week COP began on December 2, and will run through December 13, under the Presidency of Chile. COP25 was moved to Madrid, Spain following civil unrest in Chile.

USCIB Statement: 25th UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of the Parties

COP25 in Madrid, Spain
Photo credit: UNFCCC

USCIB issued the following statement on December 6 for the 25th United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Conference of the Parties (COP25). The statement reflects U.S. business priorities.

For the 25th year, USCIB is participating in deliberations of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Madrid. USCIB joins with many others in highlighting the critical importance of inclusive multilateralism as a means to increase pace and impact to meet climate commitments and objectives, involving all societal partners, including the private sector. Economic policies that drive growth and create jobs in the green economy will be critical to generate the necessary resources and enable business to make its strongest contributions to implementation of the UNFCCC and its Paris Agreement, and to sustainable development.

Since its conclusion in Paris in 2015, USCIB has supported the Paris Agreement. USCIB recognizes and expresses its deep appreciation to U.S. delegations for attending and engaging responsively with U.S. business at UNFCCC meetings. We continue to encourage the Administration to remain at the Paris Agreement table to advance and defend U.S. environmental protection, economic growth, innovation and competitiveness, as it has done consistently in the UNFCCC since COP1.

USCIB recognizes that urgent action to tackle climate change is needed on all fronts. According to the IPCC, reducing future climate-related risks in the context of sustainable development will depend on the upscaling and acceleration of far-reaching climate mitigation and both incremental and transformational adaptation. In this regard, business investment, innovation and action, working in partnership with governments, society and other stakeholders will be vital.

We continue to call for the commitment of all governments to this global effort, so that business and government can work together to enact economically sound policies that:

  • Promote development, deployment and use of cleaner and more efficient technologies and energy sources
  • Enhance sustainable energy access and security in all countries
  • Utilize markets and market-based approaches to animate least-cost GHG reductions, working through multilateral trade
  • Drive investment in innovation for mitigation and adaption
  • Seek to strengthen synergy across multilateral trade, investment and climate policy frameworks

As we work to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement, we need to include all of society’s stakeholders working together towards a sustainable path for communities, workers and the climate that leaves no one behind. Of particular importance will be government education and training policies that are inclusive and support workers and their communities in securing the skills, capabilities and investments needed to thrive in the face of transformative change.

We share the concern about the need for more rapid and widespread progress toward the Paris goals, and encourage renewed efforts to get back on track, in particular with relation to Article 6.

We welcome ambitious aspirations on the part of organizations and companies and look forward to mobilizing the best of business forward in addressing this critical global challenge, delivering energy access and security, job creation and shared economic prosperity.