Lowry Testifies at Forced Labor Enforcement Task Force Hearing on the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act

The Forced Labor Enforcement Task Force (FLETF), as required by the Uyghur Forced labor Prevention Act (UFLPA), held a public hearing on the Use of Forced Labor in the People’s Republic of China and Measures to Prevent the Importation of Goods Produced, Mined, or Manufactured, Wholly or in Part, with Forced Labor in the People’s Republic of China into the United States. On behalf of the FLETF, the hearing was led by the Department of Homeland Security, which also issued the Federal Register Notice requesting comments on UFLPA, and coordinated and moderated by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

Over 400 participants and sixty speakers joined from a wide array of groups, including, but not limited to U.S. trade associations (including USCIB), foreign trade associations, labor organizations, other governments, victims, private citizens and even faith-based groups.

USCIB Senior Vice President, Innovation, Regulation, and Trade Brian Lowry was among those speakers and provided testimony on behalf of USCIB members to highlight that, “Business is a committed, willing, and necessary partner in the global fight to eradicate forced labor from their supply chains.”

“We believe that application of the rebuttable presumption should be coordinated under a singular approach consistent with Section 307 enforcement,” added Lowry. “CBP’s current process for the detention or release of goods believed to be linked to forced labor is opaque and undermines the very concept of partnership that CBP has historically maintained with the Trade. It fails to effectively leverage businesses’ capacity to deter the offending behavior, as well as, long held and internationally accepted principles related to transparency, stakeholder engagement and remedy.”

Lowry encouraged the FLETF to adopt USCIB’s Withhold Release Order process proposal which would improve CBP’s enforcement process; enhance compliance consistent with the requirements of Section 307; increase transparency; encourage greater collaboration with the trade community; and expedite shipment clearance.

While there will be a transcript of the event made available, Lowry’s full testimony is available here.

USCIB continues to welcome the opportunity to work with the FLETF and CBP to effectively implement the UFLPA.

USCIB Members Meet With USCTOC Director of the Strategic Division James (JC) Collins

James (JC) Collins in USCIB’s Washington DC office

USCIB hosted James (JC) Collins, director of the strategic division of the United States Council on Transnational Organized Crime (USCTOC) for a hybrid discussion with USCIB members to introduce Collins to the work that USCIB does in the areas of illicit-trade, customs, trade and investment, as well as intellectual property.

 

On December 15, 2021, the White House issued the Executive Order on Establishing the USCTOC.  The USCTOC is comprised of the Secretary of State, the Secretary of the Treasury, the Secretary of Defense, the Attorney General, the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Director of National Intelligence Strategic Division. The Strategic Division produces coordinated strategic plans for whole-of government Counter-Transnational Organized Crime efforts in support of and in alignment with policy priorities established by the President of the United States through the National Security Council.

 

“USCIB, through its relevant committees, looks forward to collaboration with USCTOC and to advance innovative public-private partnerships to counter illicit trade and organized crime that impact the integrity of American businesses, markets and global supply chains”, said David M. Luna, USCIB Anti-Illicit Trade Committee (AITC) chair.  “We commend President Biden and his administration for their commitment to elevate these pernicious threats to U.S. national security, and applaud USCTOC’s leadership to partner with businesses to join forces across sectors to build capacities, resiliency, and cross-border cooperation to reduce the harmful effects of transnational crime and kleptocracy to our homeland and economy.”

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.

OECD Concludes Final Workshop on Illicit Trade in E-Commerce Series

The OECD Task Force on Countering Illicit Trade (TF-CIT) recently concluded the third and final workshop in their “Project on Illicit Trade in E-Commerce” series, focusing on the experiences of online platform operators in combatting counterfeiting. Business at OECD Anti-Illicit Trade Expert Group (AITEG) supported these workshops as part of the new public-private partnership with TF-CIT.

USCIB Anti-Illicit Trade Committee Chair David Luna, joined by, among others, USCIB members from Amazon, eBay and Walmart, used this workshop to express their concerns and ongoing approaches towards combating illicit trade, as well as, possible ways forward, including companies’ online platforms planning to make better use of Artificial Intelligence (AI), for example, with regards to improved authentication programs and a greater focus on addressing intellectual property fraud. USCIB members highlighted that to counter illicit trade more effectively, closer partnerships within the business community are essential and stressed that collaboration with public authorities, as well as business chambers and associations should be enhanced.

“As the Business at OECD AITEG Chair, I applaud our new partnership with the OECD Task Force on Countering Illicit Trade (TF-CIT),” said Luna, “and I commend our members for their commitment to work through public-private partnerships to help fight illicit trade across the digital world. Together through collective action, information-sharing, and best practices, we can proactively target today’s online nefarious actors and criminal networks involved in the trafficking in counterfeit and pirated goods.”

As this was the final workshop on illicit trade in e-commerce, the OECD TF-CIT has created a website dedicated to this project available here.

APEC Workshop Discusses COVID-19 Lessons for Customs and Trade Facilitation

In partnership with the New Zealand Customs Service, the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Sub-Committee on Customs Procedures (SCCP) held a virtual workshop as part of their recently endorsed project “Customs Response to COVID-19 Trade Recovery: Lessons Learnt and Future Opportunities.”

USCIB Director, Customs and Trade Facilitation Megan Giblin, joined by, among others, customs officials of APEC economies, as well as customs experts from the private sector and international organizations, used this workshop to examine and reflect upon trade facilitation issues during the COVID-19 pandemic including challenges, best practices and how to continue forward.

“I emphasized the work done to assist USCIB members and document the barriers they faced at international borders during COVID. I also highlighted our Customs and Trade Facilitation COVID Recommendations and core priorities in our 2021 APEC Policy Priorities Paper, which have been shared with economies and organizations,” said Giblin.  “Many of the hurdles faced during COVID could have been reduced or eliminated through robust and accelerated implementation of TFA commitments.”

Giblin also expressed the importance and helpfulness of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) communications approach with members of the trade community, from standing calls to consolidated websites, updates and intake portal to engaging directly on concerns in the COVID environment and encouraging other economies to adopt these practices, which should be seen as best practices. Additionally, Giblin applauded the approach taken by other U.S. government agencies in providing consolidated information and aiding in separating fact from rumor during this critical time.

She also continued to raise awareness on the recent WTO communication entitled, “Supporting the Timely and Efficient Release of Global Goods Through Accelerated Implementation of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement.”

“About half of the APEC economies have already become co-sponsors of the communication and USCIB encourages all others to become co-sponsors as well,” added Giblin.

USCIB Supports New Public Education Initiative to Combat Black Market Trade

Washington D.C., June 08, 2021—USCIB joined United to Safeguard America from Illegal Trade (USA-IT) in launching a new public education initiative designed to provide local officials, law enforcement, and thought leaders with information and training programs to help tackle illegal trade and raise public awareness of the depth of the problem as well as the severe consequences inflicted on states and municipalities by black market profiteers.

The campaign will run through 2021 across eight states facing critical illegal trade issues: Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Texas.

The black market is a $509 billion a year business, and it’s growing. Criminals get rich from illegal trade by robbing revenues meant to provide essential services to Americans. Instead of helping taxpayers, that money is used to fund those who illegally traffic in drugs, weapons, and even people. These groups exploit governments and citizens, manipulate financial systems, spur corruption, and cultivate instability and violence that threaten our communities.

No one government or single industry can address this complex problem on its own. Tackling illegal trade requires cooperation and public-private partnerships and fully utilizing existing expertise, information sharing, innovative solutions, and evolving technologies. Public actors, the private sector, and civil society alike all have a role to play.

For more information about USA-IT’s efforts to combat illegal trade, and to get involved, visit USAIT.org.

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, the International Organization of Employers 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.

About USA-IT

United to Safeguard America from Illegal Trade (USA-IT) is a public and private sector partnership protecting Americans’ security and prosperity from black market criminals.

Contacts

Sam Dashiell
T. +1 (202) 480 1617
E. contact@USAIT.org

Kira Yevtukhova
T. +1 (202) 617 3160
E. kyevtukhova@uscib.org

USCIB Provides Input to OECD Task Force on Countering Illicit Trade

Through Business at OECD (BIAC), USCIB recently had an opportunity to contribute to an OECD Task Force on Countering Illicit Trade Plenary Meeting. During the Plenary, the Chair of BIAC’s Anti-Illicit Trade Expert Group and Chair of USCIB’s Customs and Trade Facilitation Committee, David Luna, highlighted the significant impact of illicit trade on the economy, businesses and people’s welfare. Luna also stressed the importance of collaboration among all stakeholders, including public and private, to counter the significant risks posed by illicit trade.

Luna used this platform to officially announce the launch of a new partnership program with the OECD, which seeks to strengthen public-private sector collaboration on tackling illicit trade. The partnership will commence with a special project focused on “the challenges of illicit trade for e-commerce” and will soon be followed by another project on “illicit trade in high-risk areas at the time of Covid-19.”

The partnership is also looking into launching two additional potential projects on Maritime Transports and Free Trade Zones.

USCIB Welcomes Senate’s Unanimous Confirmation Vote on USTR Tai

Photo: Bill O’Leary/The Washington Post/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Washington, D.C., March 18, 2021—The United States Council for International Business (USCIB) salutes the Senate for its unanimous vote on March 17 to confirm Katherine Tai as the next U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), believing she is a solid choice for this important cabinet-level position, bringing outstanding experience as an attorney-advisor and litigator at USTR, as Chief Trade Counsel for the House of Representatives Ways and Means Trade Subcommittee, and as an attorney in the private sector.

America’s economic growth, jobs and competitiveness, our future, depends to a considerable degree on how well we are able to engage and compete in today’s, and tomorrow’s, global economy. USTR Tai will lead America’s efforts on some very important trade and investment issues including our leadership in the World Trade Organization (WTO), updated and improved rules on digital trade, reducing foreign trade and investment barriers hurting American companies and workers, and effectively enforcing our existing network of trade agreements. Tai’s experience with Congress, as well as her expertise in trade law, the WTO and in Asia and China will serve her, and our country, very well in ​this crucial position.

“USCIB knows and respects Ms.Tai and has worked well with her in her important role at the Ways and Means Committee,” said USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson. “As an organization committed to open trade and investment flows, as well as high standards of corporate responsibility, all of us at USCIB and our member companies look forward to working with Ms.Tai to advance America’s economic interests and our shared values.”

Citi’s Senior Vice President and Managing Director of Global Government Affairs Rick Johnston, who also c​hairs the USCIB Trade and Investment Committee added, “Ms. Tai is the timely choice for this critical role as USTR at a very important an​d challenging time. Winning unanimous support from the Senate is a rare tribute to her abilities, her experience, and the respect she has earned from all quarters. The right leader at the right time for a very important job.”

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, the International Organization of Employers 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 to Present Proposal at APEC on Fighting IP Crime, Illicit Trade

During this week’s virtual Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting of the Intellectual Property Rights Expert Group (IPEG) as part of the third Senior Officials Meeting (SOM) this year, USCIB will be presenting a proposal on October 7 on fighting intellectual property crime and illicit trade in counterfeit and pirated goods. This presentation will be given by USCIB Anti-Illicit Trade Committee (AITC) Chair David Luna of Luna Global Networks and Vice Chair Fernando Peña of DHL.

The proposal presented by Luna and Peña builds on previous groundwork in APEC on fighting illicit trade in various working groups, such as IPEG, the APEC Business Advisory Council, the Sub-Committee on Customs Procedures, and others, as well as scaling current efforts to strengthen international cooperation across economies, sectors and communities to fight illicit trade, including in established Free Trade Zones in the APEC region.

Luna and Pena will also discuss how COVID-19 further mutated criminality and IP infringement across online and e-commerce marketplaces, including through illicit trade, that is putting the health and safety of APEC citizens and communities at risk. Examples of products affected include medicines, personal protective equipment (PPE), medical supplies and fast-moving consumer goods such as food, hand-sanitizers and disinfectants.

“This has resulted in increased trade in illicit goods throughout APEC economies, which has sapped governments of vital tax revenues, inhibiting funding for pandemic response and economic recovery,” added USCIB Director for Customs and Trade Facilitation Megan Giblin. “We must continue to promote APEC’s leadership through public-private partnerships in APEC and across the Asia Pacific region and globally fight illicit trade.”

USCIB Members Play Active Role on OECD’s Illicit Trade During COVID Panel

The OECD Task Force on Countering Illicit Trade hosted a webinar on April 23—”Illicit Trade at the Time of Crisis.” In advance of the webinar, USCIB worked closely with Business at OECD (known as BIAC) and the OECD Secretariat on developing a robust panel dedicated to the BIAC Anti-Illicit Trade Expert Group (AITEG) and the good work of the AITEG and USCIB on illicit trade in the COVID-19 crisis environment.

“As the U.S. affiliate for Business at OECD, USCIB has been working closely with BIAC on anti-illicit trade matters since the establishment of our Anti-Illicit Trade Committee (AITC) in 2018,” said Director for Customs and Trade Facilitation Megan Giblin.

In addition to statements by BIAC’s Anti-Illicit Trade Expert Group chair and vice chair, the panel was rounded out by USCIB member representatives; Pfizer’s Senior Director David Shore, who leads the Europe, Middle East and Africa regional Global Security Team, as well as Amazon’s Senior Public Policy Manager Chris Oldknow, who discussed counterfeiting and intellectual property in Europe and gave poignant remarks on Pfizer and Amazon’s, respective, efforts on illicit trade in the COVID environment.

Prior to the webinar, BIAC published a statement, “Illicit Trade in Context of COVID-19 and Future Pandemics,” which was widely shared with webinar participants and built off earlier contributions of the work of the OECD Task Force.

USCIB’s AITC is chaired by David Luna of Luna Global Networks and vice-chaired by Fernando Pena of DHL. Luna also chairs the recently elevated BIAC AITEG, which is vice-chaired by Alvise Giustiniani of PMI.