USCIB Contributes to Discussion With OECD on China

USCIB participated in a Seminar with the OECD Informal Reflection Group on China as part of the Business at OECD (BIAC) delegation of the China Expert Group on November 27. The BIAC China Expert Group was created for the purpose of contributing expert guidance to China–OECD cooperation in areas that improve the investment climate and overall business environment in China. According to USCIB’s China lead Eva Hampl, who participated in this meeting, the group promotes adherence to OECD instruments and the sharing of knowledge on policy practices, contributing to a more level playing field for all businesses operating both inside and outside of China. It consults annually with the OECD Informal Reflection Group on China, which includes OECD Ambassadors from a wide range of countries. It also works with the OECD’s senior representative in Beijing to help scale–up the OECD presence in China. China is not a member of the OECD but participates in many of its meetings as an observer.

The focus of the discussion was “The OECD and China in the post-COVID scenario. Avoiding decoupling –strengthening resilience.” The business presentation provided an economic assessment, noted the global challenges, and included several so-called reflection topics on technological decoupling, artificial intelligence, state-owned enterprises (SOEs), and supply chain resilience.

Hampl, USCIB Senior Director for Investment, Trade and Financial Services, spoke on the issue of supply chain resilience, highlighting current business challenges globally in the context of the pandemic, as well as specifically related to China.

Hampl encouraged the OECD not to shy away from addressing the difficult issues, highlighting successful OECD workstreams on SOEs and subsidies.

“The relationship with China is complex, multifaceted and can be challenging for business,” stressed Hampl.

The OECD’s December 2020 Economic Outlook released yesterday highlights that China, where the recovery from the pandemic started earlier, is expected to grow strongly at 8% in 2021, accounting for over a third of global growth. Given China’s importance in the global economy, its practices and policies have a significant impact on its trading partners, providing strong incentives to work together to address common challenges and responsibilities.

Hampl Discusses Role of Open Markets, Inclusive Multilateralism in COVID-19 Recovery

USCIB Senior Director for Trade and Financial Services Eva Hampl provided a U.S. business perspective at the Joint Conference on Reviving the Global Economy by Opening Markets and Enhancing Cooperation. The event was co-organized by the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT) and the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) on September 28.  During her panel, Hampl discussed what USCIB has been focusing on to advance open markets and an economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have been active in all available forums to advocate that governments refrain from misusing the COVID-19 pandemic to adopt arbitrary, discriminatory or protectionist policies which only disrupt supply chains and put further strains on the economy – this also includes measures already in place that are now being justified by the pandemic,” said Hampl. “We consistently emphasize the crucial role of open trade and global value chains as fundamental drivers to recover from this global crisis.”

Hampl also discussed longer-term solutions, such as diversifying supply chains, so that global issues, such as a pandemic, do not endanger the reliable supply of necessary goods and services.

According to Hampl, the pandemic has highlighted the transformative power of digital technologies.

“Companies across all sectors stepped up to work closely with governments and other stakeholders to respond to urgent medical, economic and social needs by deploying and driving digital technology solutions,” said Hampl. “Looking ahead, digital technologies have the potential to shape the sustainable recovery from the pandemic. This also includes accelerating the digitization of government services such as licensing, permitting, tax collection and procurement.”

Hampl also emphasized the importance of global cooperation through multilateral institutions and discussed the role of inclusive multilateralism in the context of the COVID-19 outbreak.

“A COVID-19 response must be an ‘all hands on deck’ approach,” she noted. “When USCIB advocates for multilateralism, we mean multilateralism that promotes peace, cooperation and social justice, relies on effective and transparent multilateral bodies, advances collaborative approaches among states, encourages international dialogue and cooperation to design and implement effective policies and, finally, engages business across all sectors and other stakeholders in substantive dialogue and partnerships.

To view the video in English, please click here.

USCIB Submits Comments to USTR on China’s Compliance With WTO

USCIB submitted comments on China’s compliance with WTO commitments on September 17. The comments were in response to the U.S. Trade Representative’s (USTR) request for input. In its comments, USCIB welcomed the “Phase One” trade agreement between the United States and China, as well as China’s actions to date to implement its commitments under that agreement. According to USCIB, if fully implemented, the agreement will help address a host of policies and practices maintained by China that undermine the ability of U.S. businesses to operate, including unfair and discriminatory governmental practices.

USCIB also noted that U.S. tariffs and Chinese retaliatory tariffs imposed as a result of the U.S. Section 301 investigation into China’s forced technology transfer, intellectual property, and innovation policies have been disruptive to U.S. business.

“While the Phase One deal partially addresses some of these tariffs, more must be done to restore the ability of U.S. business to compete effectively in the global marketplace,” said Eva Hampl, who leads USCIB’s policy work on China. “As described in this submission, many issues affecting business remain a concern in China. Accordingly, high-level bilateral dialogue between the United States and China continues to be of the utmost importance.”

USCIB urges both countries to utilize, in addition to the World Trade Organization (WTO), the full range of formal multilateral fora, including Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Forum and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), to work toward improved commercial relations. Plurilateral dialogues that include U.S.-friendly jurisdictions such as the European Union, Canada or Australia should also be considered.

“USCIB and its members understand and appreciate that U.S.-China economic relations are complex and multifaceted, and that American business holds a direct and important stake in this relationship and in its success,” added Hampl. “As the world’s largest economy, China’s practices and policies have a significant impact on its trading partners, and engagement with China can be challenging.”

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there will not be a public hearing this year. USCIB’s submission is public and can also be found on www.regulations.gov under Docket Number USTR-2020-0033.

 

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 Strengthens Trade Policy Advocacy Through New Coalition: Alliance for Trade Enforcement

USCIB joined a new coalition, the Alliance for Trade Enforcement, which includes nearly a dozen other industry groups and trade associations. The coalition’s goal is to support U.S. policymakers in their efforts to enforce U.S. trade agreements and ensure that America’s trading partners end unfair trade practices. The coalition is an expansion of the Alliance for Fair Trade with India.

According to the coalition’s media release, the U.S. Trade Representative’s (USTR) recent Special 301 Report, which “identifies trading partners that do not adequately or effectively protect and enforce intellectual property rights or otherwise deny market access to U.S. innovators and creators,” can serve as an initial blueprint for the group. This year, USTR identified thirty-three countries for these types of violations. Many of these countries are repeat offenders.

“We look forward to further advancing USCIB’s trade policy priorities through this new coalition,” said USCIB Senior Director for Investment, Trade and Financial Services.

To view the media release, please click here.

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USCIB Urges US Participation in WTO’s Procurement Agreement

USCIB joined over twenty industry associations in signing a letter to high-level government officials emphasizing the critical importance of continued U.S. participation in the World Trade Organization (WTO) Government Procurement Agreement (GPA). The letter was sent to United States Trade Representative Robert E. Lighthizer, Secretary of the Treasurer Steven T. Mnuchin, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, and National Economic Council Director Lawrence Kudlow.

The letter argues that the GPA provides benefits to the U.S. economy, businesses and workforce by empowering the United States to negotiate reciprocal terms under which GPA signatory countries open their government procurement markets to U.S. companies and commit to transparency and procedural protections that support the rule of law.

“The GPA is the only part of the WTO system that provides binding guarantees of the right to sell to foreign governments (which are not covered by other WTO disciplines). The GPA is also unique among WTO plurilateral agreements in that only the forty-seven current country signatories to the agreement benefit from and can enforce its binding commitments,” the letter stated.

Additionally, the letter warns that if the U.S. withdrew from the GPA, it could no longer negotiate the terms under which China could join the GPA. As a result, other GPA signatory countries would be less likely to demand comprehensive access to Chinese government procurement markets.

USCIB Commends Phase 1 China Deal, Urges Further Negotiations

Washington, D.C., January 15, 2020 – The United States Council for International Business (USCIB), which represents many of America’s leading global companies, welcomes the signing of a Phase One deal with China today in Washington.

China continues to be an important market for U.S. business, and we recognize the progress on food and agricultural export opportunities in this agreement. It also addresses issues related to resolving intellectual property theft and forced technology transfer, which negatively affect the global competitiveness of our companies, but more remains to be done to ensure American companies are afforded a level playing field in China.

USCIB continues to support a comprehensive, high-standard deal that that holds China accountable for complying with their international obligations, vigorously pursuing a level playing field overseas, while avoiding policies that undermine U.S. industry competitiveness. We look forward to studying the details of this initial Phase One deal, and to a next phase of negotiations to address remaining issues, including removing the harmful tariffs that have been imposed on both sides.

In addition to working directly with China, we also continue to urge the Administration to work closely with allies to address many of these concerns on fundamental Chinese policies and practices. We are therefore pleased that the United States is continuing to work with the European Union and Japan toward that goal, exemplified by the cabinet-level meetings this week in Washington.

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.

USCIB Releases 2020 Trade and Investment Policy Priorities

Each year the Trade and Investment Committee of the U.S. Council for International Business (USCIB) conducts an extensive consultation process among members in identifying priorities for the coming year. The 2020 USCIB Trade and Investment Agenda includes a list of key principles our members support for open trade and investment and an action plan for addressing our trade and investment policy priorities.

The action plan anticipates another busy year on trade and investment including:

  • pressing for final approval and implementation of USMCA,
  • seeking Administration action on phase 2 agreements with China and Japan,
  • supporting movement on trade negotiations with the EU and UK,
  • seeking continued progress on negotiations in the WTO on a digital trade agreement and
  • modernizing the WTO.

“The Agenda provides the framework for USCIB work to advance policies and negotiations that will open international markets for our member companies and strengthen the global rules-based trade and investment framework,” said USCIB Senior Vice President for Policy and Government Affairs Rob Mulligan. 

Hampl Provides Testimony at Interagency Committee on China’s WTO Compliance

Following USCIB’s annual submission to the U.S. Trade Representative regarding China’s compliance with its WTO commitments, USCIB Senior Director for Trade, Investment and Financial Services Eva Hampl provided testimony before the interagency Trade Policy Staff Committee, which was chaired by USTR and included officials from the Departments of Commerce, Treasury, State, Agriculture and Labor.

“USCIB members continue to have serious concerns with a host of policies and practices maintained by China that undermine the ability of U.S. businesses to operate, including unfair and discriminatory governmental practices,” stated Hampl. “The tariff actions under Section 301 have not to date resolved the underlying issues [of forced technology transfer and intellectual property theft] identified by the United States. Accordingly, high-level bilateral dialogue between the United States and China continues to be of the utmost importance. We also urge both countries to utilize, in addition to the WTO, the full range of formal multilateral fora, including Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Forum and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), to work toward improved commercial relations.”

The questions from the panel addressed the problematic enforcement of the anti-monopoly law, the myriad of certification and testing requirements, the current cybersecurity regime, market access (China’s filtering and blocking of websites and online services), the dysfunctional approval process for new agricultural biotechnology products, and recent developments on  China’s labor laws.

USCIB submitted extensive written comments last month. The submission is public and can also be found on www.regulations.gov under Docket Number USTR-2019-0010.