USCIB Meets With Ngozi to Enhance Synergies Between WTO and US Industry

U.S. Chamber of Commerce CEO and USCIB Trustee Suzanne Clark hosted a meeting of top U.S. trade association leaders on September 22 with World Trade Organization (WTO) Director General Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala in advance of the WTO ministerial meeting (MC12) in December. USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson attended for USCIB, accompanied by Alice Slayton Clark, director of Investment, Trade and China. The intimate gathering provided an opportunity to enhance synergies and understanding between the WTO and U.S. industry, a goal for the new director general.

Dr. Ngozi repeated her continued concerns about the viability of the WTO, and the need to produce concrete results at the MC12 on fishery subsidies, food security, trade and health/access to vaccines, as well as the joint statement initiatives on e-commerce and services domestic regulations. Robinson noted the multifaceted challenges facing vaccine access, and urged reduction of trade and regulatory barriers to distribution and administration as the most important approach. He emphasized a letter USCIB sent to Dr. Ngozi this summer on this issue, co-signed by the Chamber and BusinessEurope, among others.

In addition, Robinson stressed USCIB interest in revitalizing and expanding negotiations on an environmental goods agreement that were sidelined in 2016 largely over concerns about the definition of products to be included. Other USCIB priorities were also raised during the meeting, including: concerns about industrial subsidies, dispute settlement procedures, and special and differential treatment; and support for the science of agricultural biotechnology and extension of the e-commerce moratorium. There was a good deal of consensus on many of these key issues among the participants.

Robinson also expressed support for the initiatives to work with the WTO in improving the global trading system that are underway in the three global business organizations with which USCIB is affiliated, International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), International Organization of Employers (IOE) and Business at OECD (BIAC).

USCIB’s member companies rely on the WTO as the multilateral forum for resolving trade disputes and expanding market access for selling goods and services overseas. It urges the Biden Administration to take a leadership role at the MC12 in reforming and updating the WTO so it can remain a viable source for trade adjudication and liberalization in the decades to come.

USCIB Member HP Presents at WTO Symposium on Information Technology Agreement

The World Trade Organization (WTO) hosted a two-day workshop in mid-September celebrating trade liberalization under the Information Technology Agreement titled “ITA Symposium: 25th Anniversary of the Information Technology Agreement.” WTO Director General Dr. Ngozi Okojo-Iweala opened the conference, which explored the benefits of ICT in combatting COVID-19 and bridging the digital divide, as well as the latest advances in technology and justifications for a new, third, round of ITA expansion.

Given the topic of the Symposium, USCIB was pleased to secure a speaking role for member company HP, Inc. Karen Bland, HP’s Head of Global Trade, presented on “3D Printing: A Vital Technology for Economic Development and Sustainability,” where she outlined the economic benefits of 3D printing, as well as the innovative technology’s contributions to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs). Additionally, HP highlighted how it leveraged 3D printing to address extreme supply chain disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic by partnering with more than ninety-two global digital manufacturing companies to deliver millions of 3D printed items including CPAP components, nasal swabs and face shields.

“The ITA must keep pace with technological advances in ICT.  HP encourages coverage of 3D printers and parts as a critical printing innovation in any future ITA expansion,” commented Bland.

USCIB is part of an industry coalition led by the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) working with the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative to advance a new expansion of the ITA (ITA-3).  During the conference SIA President John Neuffer addressed “How a Third ITA Expansion Would Benefit Developed and Developing Nations Alike While Advancing Climate, Health, and Sustainability Goals,” with Stephen Ezell from the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation releasing a comprehensive report on How an Information Technology Agreement 3.0 Would Bolster Economic Growth and Opportunity, including a focus on potential benefits to developing countries. The report includes a list of products proposed to be included in an ITA 3, including many submissions from USCIB members.

“USCIB supports ITA expansion, increased geographic participation, and further efforts to provide duty free treatment to critical ICT products which have become more important in the COVID environment,” said USCIB Director, Investment, Trade and China Alice Slayton Clark. Clark is leading the ITA expansion effort at USCIB, with USCIB Director, Customs and Trade Facilitation Megan Giblin as customs advisor.

Lowry Serves as Witness at Hearing on Forced Labor in Supply Chains

USCIB Senior Vice President for Innovation, Regulation and Trade Brian Lowry served as a witness during the House Ways and Means (HWM) Trade Subcommittee Hearing addressing, “The Global Challenge of Forced Labor in Supply Chains: Strengthening Enforcement and Protecting Workers” on July 21.

According to Congressman Earl Blumenauer, who served as chair, the hearing was held “to shine a light on some of these countries, regions and sectors, to consider U.S. enforcement efforts, and to discuss ways we can work with our trading partners to cooperate on eradicating forced labor in our supply chains.”

At the center of Lowry’s testimony were proposed operational changes to U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) Withhold Release Order (WRO) process. USCIB’s proposed multi-step process, includes CBP providing companies with information about allegations earlier in the WRO process, providing companies sixty-days to respond with information critical to the investigation and instituting a time-limited process. The proposal seeks to improve CBP’s forced labor enforcement process by increasing transparency and encouraging greater collaboration with the trade community.

“Greater transparency by Customs upon initiation of an investigation and prior to the issuance of a withhold release order would enable the business community to partner with Customs to address forced labor and prevent the importation of prohibited goods,” stated Lowry.

“We strongly believe that Customs must modernize, update and align its regulations, policies and procedures to address the evolving threat of forced labor in supply chains in partnership with the business community,” he continued.

In conclusion Lowry reiterated, “Our proposed process will create a reasonable, transparent and – most importantly – effective system for combatting forced labor in supply chains.

Chairman Blumenauer demonstrated his interest in USCIB’s viewpoint by directing his first question to Lowry, and later stating, “Mr. Lowry, I look forward to working with you refining some of this going forward.”  The Chairman concluded the hearing, expressing his view that this “was just one of the best hearings I’ve been privileged to participate in. I appreciate what our witnesses do and appreciate the engagement of our members making it such a constructive effort.”

Other witnesses included Neha Misra, global lead, Migration and Human Trafficking, Solidarity Center; Jennifer Rosenbaum, executive director, Global Labor Justice-International Labor Rights Forum; Charity Ryerson, executive director, Corporate Accountability Lab and Genevieve LeBaron, professor of politics, University of Sheffield.

A recording of the full hearing can be found here.

USCIB Member Appointed to Leadership Role in ICC Commission on Customs and Trade Facilitation

John Bescec, Microsoft

The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) Commission on Customs and Trade Facilitation has announced that Microsoft’s John Bescec has been appointed as new chair of the commission. Bescec is currently a vice chair of the USCIB Customs and Trade Facilitation Committee (CTFC) and a director of Customs and Trade Affairs at Microsoft.

“We are delighted to advise that ICC Secretary General John W.H. Denton has appointed new officers of the ICC Commission on Customs and Trade Facilitation,” said ICC Global Policy Director Andrew Wilson. “Together with the ICC HQ team, the officers will form a new Steering Group for the Commission to guide our work to tackle customs frictions globally — including our engagement with the World Customs Organization.”

Bescec, who is based in Canada and represents Microsoft at both USCIB and ICC – Canada, was jointly nominated for the position by USCIB and ICC-Canada. He will be stepping down as vice chair of the USCIB Committee to focus his efforts on the ICC Commission.

USCIB thanks Bescec for his leadership commitments and looks forward to actively working with him and the newly appointed ICC Commission Vice Chairs, who include Irina Kitiashvili, chief operating officer, IDS Borjomi Beverages (Georgia), Mahmut Kobal, group head of customs and international trade, Beiersdorf (Germany), Karen Poujade, group customs director, Alstom (France), Anil Rajput, senior vice president of corporate affairs, ITC Ltd (India), Alejandro Terzián, head of the Center of Excellence for International Trade and Customs Compliance, Bayer LATAM (Argentina).

“Working with the new leadership group, we will take the opportunity to assess specific areas of engagement in the coming weeks — including the status and mandates of existing working groups within the Commission’s remit,” added Wilson.

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 Members Present at USTR Webinar on WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement

In partnership with the United States Trade Representative (USTR), USCIB and NTFC collaborated on a webinar related to the accelerated implementation of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) for the Committee on Trade Facilitation at the WTO.

At the core of the May 27 event was the communication that has been co-sponsored by nineteen countries, including two new co-sponsors North Macedonia and Switzerland: Australia; Brazil; Canada; Colombia; European Union; Iceland; Japan; Republic of Korea; Mexico; New Zealand; Norway; Singapore; the Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu; Thailand; Turkey; United Kingdom and the United States, all of which “support the timely and efficient release of global goods through accelerated implementation of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA).” Linked to this communication is the U.S. and Norway communication to abolish consularization.

USCIB Director for Customs and Trade Facilitation Megan Giblin and private sector representatives from Amazon, Cargill, FedEx, and Intel, joined a responsive conversation about the importance of accelerating the implementation of the WTO TFA. According to Giblin, this was a great opportunity for USCIB members to share private sector experiences related to COVID and the need for accelerated implementation of the WTO TFA.

“The TFA, from negotiation to country implementation and all stages in between, has been a priority for USCIB,” said Giblin. “We are dedicated to robust implementation of the TFA down to the best practices, such as customs bonding (Article 7) and ATA Carnet (Article 10 – Temporary Admissions), that underpin the Articles of the Agreement.  Many of the hurdles faced during COVID, and many noted in our early recommendations, could have been reduced or eliminated through accelerated implementation of TFA commitments.”

“USCIB believes that the U.S. government-led webinar sets a high bar for other governments as these domestically focused private sector dialogues continue in the Committee on TF,” added Giblin.

USCIB calls on WTO Members to sign-on to both the communication for accelerated TFA implementation and communication related to the abolishment of consularization.

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.

Donnelly Co-Authors Op-Ed in The Hill on Commercial Diplomacy

USCIB Senior Advisor Shaun Donnelly and his longtime State Department colleague Ambassador (ret.) Tony Wayne recently co-wrote an op-ed in The Hill titled, “Biden’s Trade Policy Needs Effective Commercial Diplomacy.”

Wayne and Donnelly, both retired U.S. ambassadors, ran the State Department’s Economic and Business Bureau in the early 2000s; Wayne served as assistant secretary and Donnelly was his principal deputy assistant secretary.  Their recent op-ed recommends that the new Administration focus on strengthening a government-wide effort to support U.S. companies (and thereby, U.S. workers and localities) to win more business opportunities overseas in order to bolster American revenues, jobs, and global competitiveness across the United States.

According to both, the international competition is fierce, and getting increasingly more fierce every day. “Frankly other governments have upped their games in recent years, so we have some catching up to do,” they argue in the op-ed.

“High-level political support, interagency teamwork, strong Ambassadorial leadership in the field, and in-depth partnership with the U.S. private sector will be essential.”

“Both in our days together at the State Department and now as colleagues in the American Academy of Diplomacy, Ambassador Wayne and I have been working on these important issues of how the U.S. Government can best support U.S. companies and workers, to help them win more deals, contracts and partnerships around the world,” said Donnelly.  “We’ve worked with the Obama and Trump Administrations on these issues and we anticipate engaging actively with the incoming Biden team at key agencies, as well as key players at the White House, on the Hill and beyond.  The U.S. needs to up its game, play stronger offense on international commercial battlefields. I see this work as a natural extension of my earlier work at State and USTR on international economic and trade policy and also of the important work we at USCIB have been doing to support U.S. business.”