Qatar to Join Global “Merchandise Passport” System

The World ATA Carnet Council meeting in Xian, China

Earlier this month, Qatar officially joined the ATA Carnet system, which enables the temporary duty-free, tax-free importation of various types of goods in over 80 countries and customs territories around the world. The Carnet system is overseen by the International Chamber of Commerce and the World Customs Organization. USCIB serves as the U.S. national guaranteeing association for the system.

The official announcement was made by Sheikha Tamadar Al Thani, director of international relations and chamber affairs at Qatar Chamber and ICC-Qatar, during her participation in a World ATA Carnet Council (WATAC) meeting organized by ICC’s World Chambers Federation on May 9 in Xi’an, China. The ATA Carnet system is expected to be implemented in Qatar as of August 1, 2018, but the country will only accept Carnets issued for Exhibitions and Fairs. (Many countries and territories also accept them for Product Samples and for Professional Equipment.)

During her address to the WATAC meeting, which was attended by USCIB President and CEO Peter M. Robinson, Al Thani noted that Qatar’s formal accession to the Carnet system came as a result of lengthy negotiations conducted during the previous sessions with WATAC leadership and council members. She said the ATA Carnet plays an important role towards advancing the cause of free trade as a mechanism of trade facilitation.

Al Thani further noted that world trade is facing momentous challenges nowadays, with protectionist policies on the rise again and the State of Qatar’s accession to the Council is a testimony to its adherence to free trade, and to its belief in the importance of the free movement of goods and services around the world.

The ATA Carnet is the global gold standard for temporary admissions under the auspices of the World Customs Organization. ATA Carnets are international tools of trade facilitation, which serve as a temporary export-import documentation. The ATA System is in place in over 85 countries and territories, and provides duty-free and tax-free imports on goods that will be re-exported within 12 months.

Please visit the Qatar ATA Carnet page for more info.

Hampl Testifies Regarding Proposed China Tariffs

 Following the Trump administration’s proposed Section 301 tariffs on Chinese goods, USCIB Senior Director for Investment, Trade and Financial Services Eva Hampl testified before the Section 301 Committee, chaired by USTR on May 16 regarding the proposal. Hampl’s testimony reflected USCIB member concerns about potential consequences the proposed tariffs will have on sectors vital to the U.S. economy. Her testimony was drawn from comments USCIB sent earlier this month to the U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer. Hampl was joined by over 100 other business representatives to share specific concerns regarding the proposed tariffs.

“We believe that the imposition of tariffs will not achieve the important goal of changing China’s behavior in the space of emerging technologies and intellectual property rights,” said Hampl in her testimony. “China’s threat of retaliation further exacerbates uncertainties caused by this proposed action. Rather than create more opportunities for U.S. business, sweeping tariffs will stifle U.S. agriculture, goods, and services exports and raise costs for businesses and consumers.

Hampl emphasized the need for a “holistic structure” to address the aforementioned issues. Speaking on behalf of USCIB, Hampl applauded the Trump administration for looking at alternative approaches, such as initiating a WTO dispute by requesting consultations with China.

“It is important for the administration to address these issues with a broad view, working collectively with U.S. industry, Congress, and our trading partners, to adequately address China’s unfair trade practices and get China to be WTO compliant,” noted Hampl.

The proposed tariffs pose a unique challenge to industrial inputs, which represent over 80 percent of the proposed list. Tariffs on industrial goods are especially problematic because they represent not just a tax on U.S. consumers but a tax on U.S. manufacturers and workers, and on the products they export. Tariffs on aerospace, machinery and IT parts and other advanced technologies can undermine the most competitive sectors of American manufacturing, driving up production costs in the U.S., impacting U.S. manufacturing employment, and making U.S. manufacturers less competitive against global rivals.

“Tariffs on industrial parts imported into the U.S. could have the unintended consequence of prompting manufacturers to move final production outside of the U.S.,” warned Hampl. “To see how U.S. companies will be affected by the tariffs, it is important to look to how the supply chain functions. China is the second largest economy and the largest manufacturing economy in the world. We cannot ignore that China may have some unique capabilities, at the product level, that U.S. businesses need to tap into in order to remain globally competitive. For many products or inputs, there is no feasible alternative to procuring from China. We urge the Administration to use this process to ensure that its actions do not inadvertently harm some of the most competitive sectors of the U.S. economy, and the hundreds of thousands of American jobs that depend on them.”

In addition to the testimony, USCIB also co-sponsored a reception last week for Hill staff centered around the China 301 hearing, as well as NAFTA, celebrating Great American Jobs Supported by Trade. Representatives from U.S. government, companies, and associations, spent the evening discussing various important developments in the trade space.

World Trade Week NYC Celebrates Gotham’s Export Champs

Cheryl Moore of the New York Genome Center

USCIB is a longtime partner in the annual World Trade Week festivities in New York City. World Trade Week, a celebration of international commerce in cities across the United States, was launched by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and brings together trade champions and companies of all sizes to mark the critical importance of cross-border commerce in promoting American competitiveness and global leadership.

World Trade Week NYC 2018 – despite the name, actually a full month of events and activities – kicked off this week with a high-level awards breakfast hosted by the Weissman Center for International Business at Baruch College, part of the City University of New York. Among the award honorees was the New York Genome Center, whose president and COO Cheryl Moore also served as the breakfast keynote speaker, providing an overview of New York’s efforts to foster growth in the life sciences industries.

Other businesses recognized for export success included Magnetic Analysis Corp., Innodata, Inc. and Classic Rug Collection, Inc. Empire State Development’s Global NY initiative was also honored, as was Irving A. Williamson, a member of the U.S. International Trade Commission, who was presented with a lifetime achievement award.

USCIB Vice President Jonathan Huneke served on the steering committee for World Trade Week NYC 2018. For a full list of World Trade Week events in and around New York City, click here.

Mulligan Joins BIAC to Push for Business Priorities at OECD

USCIB Senior Vice President for Policy and Government Affairs Rob Mulligan was in Paris the last week of April attending Business at OECD (BIAC) and OECD Trade Committee meetings, which included dialogues with several OECD officials, including Director of the OECD Trade Directorate Ken Ash, OECD Deputy Secretary General Mari Kiviniemi, Head of the OECD Investment Division Ana Novik, and Head of the OECD Services Trade Division John Drummond, among others.

“BIAC’s meetings were integral in getting the business community on the same page regarding several issues, including possible accession to the OECD by Argentina, Brazil, Peru, Croatia, Romania and Bulgaria, BIAC’s upcoming work with B20 Argentina on joint meetings later this month in Paris, as well as the OECD release of a Trade Facilitation publication this summer,” noted Mulligan.

According to Mulligan, BIAC members also discussed BIAC talking points on the OECD’s draft Program of Work and Budget for 2019-20 (PWB), providing suggestions for inclusion of services trade, de-minimis, overcapacity, digital trade, cybersecurity, customs simplification for SMEs, trade distortions, international regulatory cooperation, and government procurement.  These were in addition to the points based on the BIAC Trade as a Priority for All paper approved by the Committee last year. At a subsequent OECD Trade Committee Meeting later that week, member countries provided feedback to the secretariat about the draft PWB and BIAC, represented by its Chair Cliff Sosnow, noting the areas it would like to see the committee focus on during this cycle, which aligned with many of the areas BIAC had suggested.  However, BIAC noted that the PWB did not seem to include further work on localization requirements and state-owned enterprises that continue to be key areas of concern for its members and encouraged the OECD to include this in their work plans going forward.

Mulligan also had the opportunity to attend the BIAC Roundtable on Data Localization, Digital Trade and Market Openness which enabled a dialogue among the 25 people around the table. Ash, who recently met with the Japanese business group Keidanren, emphasized his desire to understand the realities of business and digital trade issues and noted Keidanren’s plans to make digital trade a focus when they host G20/B20 in 2019.

Mulligan then joined Pat Ivory of the Irish Business Federation Ibec, in their capacities as vice chairs of the BIAC Trade Committee to provide overviews on the BIAC digital trade priorities.

“Members are increasingly voicing concerns about data localization requirements related to the impact on cybersecurity and the conflicts they can cause for highly regulated industries,” stressed Mulligan. “The impact of rapidly changing technology and the need for regulators to take approaches to digital trade that do not end up restricting trade, stifling innovation, and undercutting economic growth.”

BIAC members noted challenges they deal with when assessing where to do business and suggested that localization requirements that can increase security risks in some developing countries and can make it less likely for them to do business there.

USCIB Promotes ATA Carnet as Tool for Department of Commerce

Andy Shiles (left) with Under Secretary for International Trade, Department of Commerce Gilbert Kaplan (right)

USCIB joined a breakfast meeting in New York with the Under Secretary for International Trade with the Department of Commerce Gilbert Kaplan last week. NY District Department of Commerce Director Carmela Mammas and Joe Schoonmaker from the NY District Export Council (NYDEC) hosted the meeting, which was attended by Andy Shiles, USCIB’s senior vice president for ATA Carnet and trade services.

Kaplan discussed the effort of the Department of Commerce offices to reach out and collaborate with U.S. Ambassadors around the world to utilize Embassies for networking and meeting opportunities for American businesses to establish and strengthen business relationships in other countries to help stimulate international trade.

“There are exciting times in the world of international trade,” commented Shiles. “Under Secretary Kaplan received excellent comments from several representing the NYDEC. You can guess that we also discussed the use of an ATA Carnet as one of the tools the Department of Commerce should promote with small and medium sized companies as they strive to expand the international markets for US goods.”

Over 100 Business Representatives Lobby Senate on NAFTA

Following previous successful NAFTA Senate Lobby Days, USCIB once again participated last week, joining more than 100 representatives from the agriculture and business community to talk about private sector concerns and perspectives regarding the ongoing negotiations to modernize NAFTA. The Senate Lobby Day, as in the past, was coordinated as a larger Coalition effort by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

“The purpose of this day was to increase support in light of the high-level talks among the NAFTA countries currently taking place in DC,” noted Eva Hampl, USCIB director for investment, trade and financial services. “There is concern in the business community about the Administration’s alleged push to conclude an agreement on an accelerated timeline.”

Hampl led one of the groups that went up to the Hill last week, where she met with several Republican and Democratic Senate offices throughout the day.

“While the various offices are certainly focused on NAFTA, they do not appear to have a definite action plan on what to do in the event of the potential negative scenarios that may take place, such as withdrawal from NAFTA 1.0 or an inadequate NAFTA 2.0.,” said Hampl.  “Also, while the Committee appears to get briefings from the Administration when they request it, the remainder of the Senators are not being briefed in a way that should be expected under TPA, given that the agreement is allegedly near conclusion.”

USCIB Urges US and China to Avoid Trade War

Washington, D.C., March 22, 2018 – The United States Council for International Business (USCIB), which represents America’s most successful global companies, responded to the Trump administration’s plans to impose tariffs on billions of dollars of Chinese exports along with restrictions on Chinese investment in the United States. USCIB expressed continued concern over Beijing’s trade abuses while also urging the administration to tread carefully to avoid a trade war.

“We support the goal of getting China to stop its unfair trade practices and treatment of U.S. intellectual property,” said USCIB President and CEO Peter M. Robinson. “We are encouraged to see that the administration is considering a range of tools in addressing these concerns, including WTO dispute settlement. However, we remain concerned that potential new U.S. measures and Chinese retaliation will hurt American companies, workers, farmers and consumers.“

President Trump today announced his intention to impose tariffs on some $50 billion of exports from China under Section 301 of the 1974 trade act, in response to intellectual property violations and other trade abuses. Specifically, he instructed the office of the U.S. Trade Representative to publish, within 15 days, a list of proposed Chinese goods that could be subject to tariffs, while the Treasury Department will have 60 days to recommend steps to restrict Chinese investment in the United States.

“It’s been said that nobody wins a trade war,” Robinson added. “That would be especially true of a trade conflict between the world’s two largest economies. Escalation of the current dispute would severely impact our members, who rely on sales in both markets and who maintain complex global supply chains encompassing both countries as well as many others. These overseas sales and supply chains support millions of jobs in the United States.”

Robinson concluded: “We therefore urge the Trump administration to carefully consider the actions it takes pursuant to this Section 301 report, and we encourage both governments to work together to resolve these unfair trade practices before taking steps that will damage both economies.”

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 several leading international business organizations, USCIB provides 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.

Contact:
Jonathan Huneke, USCIB
jhuneke@uscib.org, +1 212.703.5043

Donnelly and Claman Play Key Roles at OECD and BIAC Investment Meetings

Shaun Donnelly speaks at OECD, joined by (on the left) BIAC investment Committee Chair Winand Quaedvlieg of VNO (Netherlands)

Citi Director of International Government Affairs Kimberley Claman joined USCIB Vice President Shaun Donnelly at the recent March 12-13 meetings of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and Business at OECD (BIAC) Investment Committee meetings in Paris.

Claman, a last-minute addition to the wrap-up panel for the OECD’s day-long annual Investment Treaties conference, offered business perspectives on the day’s debates on investment treaties and investment chapters as tools to protect and promote much-needed Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) flows around the world.

After BIAC’s in-house Investment Committee discussions and strategizing on March 13, Donnelly and Claman joined the BIAC delegation, as well as invited labor and civil society “stakeholders,” to participate in the OECD Investment Committee’s discussion of “National Security” provisions and exceptions in Investment agreements.

“This was a very timely topic in light of the Trump Administration’s invocation of ‘national security’ justification for steel and aluminum tariffs,” said Donnelly. “Business took a strong position that national security provisions and especially their ‘self-judging’ nature could be serious threats to the quality of investment treaty disciplines.”

Donnelly joined the Dutch BIAC Investment Committee Chair at the table for formal stakeholder consultations with the OECD Committee, where they outlined BIAC policy priorities and positions, presenting BIAC’s “Proactive Investment Agenda for 2018.”  The day concluded with Claman, Donnelly and the rest of the BIAC Investment leadership hosting an informal working dinner for the OECD’s Investment Committee leadership, a useful off-the-record forum for explanations, probing questions, and candid debate.

“It was a long and challenging couple of days but with challenges growing to investment agreements and especially Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS), it’s critical that USCIB be there standing up for strong investment protections, including effective enforcement/dispute settlement provisions,” noted Donnelly. “We offer special thanks to Kimberley for bringing her unique company and former USG negotiator expertise to the discussions.”

USCIB Welcomes Senate Confirmation of McAleenan as CBP Commissioner

Washington, D.C., March 19, 2018 – The United States Council for International Business (USCIB), which advocates on behalf of America’s global companies and helps exporters of all sizes do business abroad, applauded today’s Senate confirmation of Kevin McAleenan as Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

“Kevin McAleenan is the right man for the job,” said USCIB President and CEO Peter M. Robinson. “As Acting Commissioner, he has demonstrated strong, skilled and knowledgeable direction to CBP. Under his leadership, the agency is positioned to move forward effectively in addressing the challenges and complexities of the trading environment in the U.S.”

Jerry Cook, vice president for government and trade relations with Hanes Brands and chair of USCIB’s Customs and Trade Facilitation Committee, added: “USCIB has a longstanding relationship with CBP, reflecting our subject-matter expertise and practitioner work on customs policy and trade facilitation. We look forward to working with Commissioner McAleenan and his team to help speed streamline and simplify trade for the benefit of American companies, workers and consumers.”

USCIB is already actively engaged with CBP on a range of issues, including, but not limited to customs valuation, customs classification continued ratification and, implementation of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement, engagement with the work of the World Customs Organization, and continued progress toward the Automated Customs Environment (ACE). It is working with the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), for which USCIB serves as the American affiliate, to encourage the streamlining of customs practices overseas.

Robinson noted USCIB’s role in overseeing the ATA Carnet service in the United States under CBP authorization. ATA Carnets are internationally recognized customs documents that enable the duty-free, tax-free importation of product samples, goods for trade shows and professional equipment into some 80 countries worldwide for up to one year.

“With our unique perspective, we look forward to continuing to work with and help Customs meet its goals and objectives,” he said. “We stand ready to continue to serve as a key CBP stakeholder, and provide both subject matter expertise and practitioner support on topics of interest to Customs and to our membership.”

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 several leading international business organizations, including ICC, USCIB provides 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.
Contact:
Jonathan Huneke, USCIB
jhuneke@uscib.org, +1 212.703.5043
 

Colombians in Washington Lobby on OECD Accession

Last week, USCIB was actively involved in various meetings with the Colombian government, business community and civil society on the issue of Colombia’s accession process to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). USCIB Director for Investment, Trade and Financial Services Eva Hampl, who coordinates U.S. business input on OECD accession issues attended a number of these meetings, along with USCIB Senior Vice President for Policy and Government Affairs Rob Mulligan.

“With only two outstanding OECD Committees left to approve the accession, Colombia has ramped up lobbying efforts to the U.S. business community and government,” said Hampl. The outstanding committees are the Committee for Employment, Labor and Social Affairs (ELSA) and the Trade Committee. These committees are scheduled to deliberate in March and April, respectively.

In anticipation of the upcoming meeting of the Trade Committee, Colombia’s Minister of Trade Maria Lorena Gutierrez met with USCIB to discuss outstanding issues on pharmaceuticals, distilled spirits and truck scrapping, as outlined in the Business at OECD (BIAC) Pre-Accession Recommendations. Also part of the delegation was Colombia’s Minister of Finance and Public Credit Mauricio Cardenas Santamaria, who advocated strongly for Colombia to accede prior to the end of Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos term this summer.

USCIB also had a meeting with ANDI, the National Business Association of Colombia, to discuss outstanding issues for business. Bruce Mac Master, president of ANDI led a delegation of Colombian CEOs in this meeting with the U.S. business community, in an effort to make progress on issues like trucking and pharmaceuticals.

Hampl also addressed these critical issues to U.S. business with Colombian civil society in an interview on Colombian radio last week. The main concerns raised during that conversation were on the timing of the accession process given the expiring term of President Santos, and substantive issues on pharmaceuticals, including patents.

“The U.S. business community remains firm on the outstanding issues,” said Hampl. “The OECD is a group of like-minded countries when it comes to believing in open trade and investment and innovation. It is important for any new members to share those views. The Colombian market is important to U.S. industry and we value the U.S. relationship with Colombia, so we look forward to Colombia making the necessary regulatory changes to allow the accession process move forward.”