USCIB Joins Global Trade and Industry in Statement to Urge WTO to Renew Moratorium on Customs Duties on Electronic Transmissions

May 17, 2022, New York, NY — The United States Council for International Business (USCIB) joined today nearly 100 other global trade and industry associations to urge WTO members to renew the Moratorium on Customs Duties on Electronic Transmissions at the 12th WTO Ministerial Conference in June.

According to the statement, allowing the Moratorium to expire would be a historic setback for the WTO, representing an unprecedented termination of a multilateral agreement in place nearly since the WTO’s inception – an agreement that has allowed the digital economy to take root and grow. All WTO members have a stake in the organization’s continued institutional credibility and resilience, as well as its relevance at a time of unprecedented digital transformation.

Continuation of the Moratorium is critical to the COVID-19 recovery. As detailed by the United Nations, the World Bank, the OECD, and many other organizations, the cross-border exchange of knowledge, technical know-how, and scientific and commercial information across transnational IT networks, as well as access to digital tools and global market opportunities have helped sustain economies, expand education, and raise global living standards.

Continuation of the Moratorium is also important to supply chain resilience for manufacturing and services industries in the COVID-19 era. Manufacturers – both large and small, and across a range of industrial sectors – rely on the constant flow of research, design, and process data and software to enable their production flows and supply chains for critical products.

The Moratorium is particularly beneficial to Micro, Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (MSMEs), whose ability to access and leverage digital tools has allowed them to stay in business amidst physical restrictions and lockdowns.

Failure to renew the Moratorium will jeopardize these benefits, as customs restrictions that interrupt cross-border access to knowledge and digital tools will harm MSMEs, the global supply chain, and COVID-19 recovery – increasing digital fragmentation. As UNCTAD has explained, such fragmentation “reduces market opportunities for domestic MSMEs to reach worldwide markets, [and] … reduces opportunities for digital innovation, including various missed opportunities for inclusive development that can be facilitated by engaging in data-sharing through strong international cooperation…. [M]ost small, developing economies will lose opportunities for raising their digital competitiveness.”

The rest of the statement can be found here.

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 (ICC), the International Organization of Employers (IOE) 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.

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 Issues ATA Carnet Advisory on Brazil; Brazil to Terminate Carnet as of January 1

New York, N.Y., December 22, 2021 — As the National Guaranteeing and Issuing Association (NGA and IA) for ATA Carnet in the United States, the United States Council for International Business (USCIB) is issuing the following guidance for holders (users) of U.S. ATA Carnets to Brazil (BR) or “BR ATA Carnets” for entry into the United States.

As of January 1, 2022, Brazilian customs will terminate their ATA Carnet operations.

Brazil will no longer issue or accept ATA Carnets. The National Confederation of Industry (CNI) initially ended its role as the sole NGA role in Brazil in June 2021 and was subsequently extended to December 31, 2021. During this time, Brazil Customs went through a solicitation process for a new NGA and IA, but the process conducted on September 17 and November 5, 2021, was not successful. At this time, Brazil has not been able to appoint a new entity to guarantee and issue Carnets.

As a result, U.S issued ATA Carnets currently in circulation should not be used for entry into Brazil on or after January 1, 2022. Likewise, ATA Carnets issued by Brazil for entry into the United States will be rejected by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

Details of this announcement can be found at the Brazilian Customs’ website.

“Specific questions or assistance on U.S. ATA Carnets with regards to this announcement should be directed to our authorized service providers, Boomerang Carnets and Roanoke Insurance Group,” advised USCIB Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Declan Daly.

ATA Carnets are honored in over eighty customs countries and territories and can be used for multiple trips during a one-year period. The global ATA Carnet system is overseen by the Paris-based World Chamber Federation of the International Chamber of Commerce. USCIB administers the Carnet system in the United States.

More on USCIB’s Trade Services.

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 (ICC), the International Organization of Employers (IOE) 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.

Vietnam to Join Global “Merchandise Passport” System in Spring 2022

New York, N.Y., December 20, 2021 — Vietnam is set to become the seventy-ninth member country to accept ATA Carnets for the temporary, duty-and tax-free importation of various types of goods, beginning May 1, 2022, according to the United States Council for International Business (USCIB), which administers the ATA system in the United States.

ATA Carnets are critical tools of trade facilitation known as the “merchandise passport” or “passport for goods” that simplify customs procedures for the temporary movement of goods and permit goods to enter a party to the System duty and are tax free for up to one-year. They provide users with many benefits, including being easy to use and eliminate surprises at the border; one document allows many country visits during a year of validity; streamline processes at border crossings; and they save time and money (duties & taxes).

ATA Carnets cover import of professional equipment, commercial samples and items for display at exhibitions and fairs. When countries join the ATA system they determine their scope of coverage. As of May 1, Vietnam will allow ATA Carnet covering only exhibitions and fairs (E&F).

The worldwide ATA Carnet system is overseen by the World Customs Organization (WCO) and the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) – World Chamber Federation (WCF). USCIB is the sole U.S. National Guaranteeing and Issuing Association for ATA Carnets.

“Vietnam has an export market of nearly ten billion dollars,” said USCIB Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Declan Daly, who oversees USCIB’s ATA Carnet operations. “ATA Carnets are tools of export promotion as well. They will allow American and other foreign companies to explore the market and conduct business deals with the country, while enabling Vietnamese businesses easier access and exploration to the U.S. and other global markets.”

The ATA System is in place in over eighty-five countries and territories and provides duty-free and tax-free imports on goods that will be re-exported within twelve months.

Please visit the Vietnam ATA Carnet page for more info.

 

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.

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.