USCIB Delegation Makes Interventions at UN Meetings on Investment Reform

USCIB member Lauren Mandell from Wilmer Hale and USCIB Senior Director Eva Hampl represented the USCIB delegation at the meetings of the UN Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) Working Group III on Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) Reform that took place October 5-9. The meeting sought to address a variety of issues crucial to USCIB and its membership.

USCIB participated in the discussions as an observer and made interventions on alternative dispute resolution and mediation, shareholder claims and reflective loss, frivolous claims, as well as treaty interpretation.

“USCIB appreciated the opportunity to make interventions at UNICTRAL,” said Hampl. “As next steps, we are planning a briefing with the U.S. government negotiators in these discussions to take place in November.”

The next meeting of UNCITRAL Working Group III will take place April 12-16, 2021 in New York. UNICTRAL will also hold a Virtual Pre-intersessional Meeting of the working group on November 9.

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 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 Submits Comments to USTR on Proposed Digital Services Taxes

USCIB provided comments to the United States Trade Representative (USTR) regarding the proposed Digital Services Taxes (DSTs) of several countries, including Austria, Brazil, Czech Republic, India, Indonesia, Italy, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom, as well as the European Union.

USCIB’s submission focused on whether these countries violated Section 301 while encouraging the U.S. to seek a multilateral solution.

“The DSTs under investigation are a poor choice to address the tax issues arising from digitalization of the economy and will work against the economic recovery they are intended to help fund,” said USCIB Vice President for Taxation Policy Carol Doran Klein. “Rather, the U.S. should work cooperatively to find an appropriate multilateral solution to taxing the digitalizing economy that does not unduly burden U.S. interests and fosters certainty for business.”

USTR Must Urge Canada and Mexico to Honor USMCA Commitments

USCIB joined the Alliance for Trade Enforcement (AFTE) to send a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Robert E. Lighthizer to ensure that Canada and Mexico abide by the commitment they have made in the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) and treat U.S. interests fairly.

The letter stated: “We applaud the sentiments that you expressed in your recent congressional testimony about your willingness to seek dispute settlement on issues of importance to U.S. manufacturing, agriculture and service sectors where those countries fall short, including patent, trademark and market access issues impacting innovative industries from both new and longstanding policies and regulations in Mexico and Canada.”

The group noted support for Lighthizer’s attention to the full enforcement of IP commitments made in the USMCA which protects U.S. IP-intensive industries, such as patent linkages and provisions to protect against abuses of the regulatory review exception, as well as broader market access barrier to innovative products, namely the lack of approvals for imported agricultural biotech products. AFTE argued that Mexico’s failure to approve such products threatens both trade with Mexico and U.S. farmers’ access to important technologies; meanwhile, Canada’s Patented Medicine Prices Review Board continues to develop and implement unfair pricing and reimbursement regulatory schemes that don’t account for the cost of research and development of innovative treatments, which ultimately reduces incentives for American scientists and manufactures to research and develop new treatments.

AFTE however applauded the important leap forward made by the USMCA’s digital trade provisions, which include key commitments and significant improvements over prior agreements.

AFTE is a coalition of trade associations and business groups dedicated to ending foreign unfair trade practices that harm American businesses and workers and to ensuring that America’s trading partners are held accountable for the commitments that they have made to treat American goods and services fairly. AFTE members represent companies – both large and small – from across the economy, including the manufacturing, agriculture, and service sectors. AFTE supports actions and policies that encourage U.S. trading partners to open their markets, reduce barriers to trade, and provide effective protection and enforcement of intellectual property (IP) rights.

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 Announces Leadership Change in Customs, Trade Facilitation Work

Jerry Cook (left) alongside Former Acting United States Secretary of Homeland Security Kevin McAleenan and USCIB President & CEO Peter Robinson

USCIB has announced that Vice President for Government Relations at Hanesbrands Jerry Cook is stepping down from the chairmanship of USCIB’s Customs and Trade Facilitation Committee as of July 1.

For over ten years, Cook has led the multi-sectoral Committee in strengthening USCIB’s content practice in customs and trade facilitation field and helped position the organization with the U.S. Departments of Homeland Security (including Customs and Border Protection), Treasury, and Commerce, as well as the United States Trade Representative, the International Chamber of Commerce and the World Customs Organization, among others.

After over ten years of chairmanship, Cook noted that it is time for a change.

“While serving as Chair, I have witnessed much growth in this practice and am truly proud of the progress and accomplishments the membership has jointly achieved,” said Cook. “I appreciate the opportunity to have worked with all for achieving many consensus positions and efforts and being a part of such a strong and dedicated team. I will continue to look forward to seeing the continued success of USCIB, and the work I have been proud to lead.”

USCIB expresses its gratitude to Cook for his service and will announce successor leadership in the near future.

Global Industry Urges G20 to Promote Innovation, Digital Tech, Trade

USCIB joined a global group of like-minded industry and trade associations to urge the G20 to work with industry to encourage the open markets and accelerated technology adoption that will drive groundbreaking innovations and creative solutions, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The letter states: “This will require reaffirmed commitments to reject protectionism, support rules-based multilateral organizations, best practices, processes, and obligations, embrace transparency in legislative and regulatory actions, and invest in the workforce. Such commitments should be taken with a view to prioritizing the enhancement and generation of business opportunities for micro, small, and medium size enterprises (MSMEs) and continued advancement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a means of ensuring inclusive recovery across economies.

In general, the global industry group welcomes the renewed discussion at the G20 this year on the role of digital technologies in promoting economic growth through cross-border innovation and trade. As such, the group recommended several actions including facilitating a global response to the COVID-19 outbreak, advancing global date free flows with trust (DFFT), promoting cross-border innovation and adoption of new technologies, as well as ensuring the benefits of technology are realized by all.

According to the industry group, G20 2019 was a groundbreaking year for the advancement of global digital policy discussions. Under Japan’s leadership, the G20 launched the Osaka Track to accelerate and support the ongoing digital trade discussions at the World Trade Organization (WTO) and created the concept of Data Free Flows with Trust (DFFT) in recognition of the fact that open cross-border data flows are the lifeblood of all industries, and that strong protections for privacy and cybersecurity go hand-in-hand with the transparent, non-discriminatory transfer of data across borders. G20 2020 offers governments the opportunity to advance this work towards an open, inclusive vision of the modern global economy.

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.

USCIB Urges Administration to Remove China Tariffs on Products Needed to Fight COVID-19

USCIB submitted comments to the United States Trade Representative (USTR) on China tariffs on May 18. The comments focused on Additional Modifications to the 301 Action to Address COVID-19 in relation to China’s acts, policies and practices related to technology transfer, intellectual property and innovation.

As noted in previous comments that USCIB has submitted on 301 actions, USCIB continues to hold the position that tariffs stifle the U.S. economy and will not achieve the Administration’s goal of changing China’s behavior.

“Rather than creating more opportunities for U.S. business, sweeping tariffs restrict U.S. agriculture, goods, and services exports and raise costs for businesses and consumers,” said USCIB Senior Director for Investment, Trade and Financial Services Eva Hampl. The economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has amplified the negative impacts of the tariffs on companies’ supply chains and the U.S. economy.”

USCIB highlighted several products that should be removed from the tariff list, including medical equipment central to the diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19 response and of related ailments, as well as medical equipment parts, components and 3D printers.

The comments also highlight chemicals and plastics, which have been recognized for their critical role in the production of cleaning and disinfecting products, as well as medical equipment such as masks, diagnostic equipment and disposable gowns.

For a complete list of products and USCIB’s comments to USTR, please click here, please click here.