USCIB Talks OECD Accession With New US Ambassador to Brazil   

Todd C. Chapman

USCIB trade and investment policy staffers Shaun Donnelly and Eva Hampl had an introductory conference call on March 19 with the recently-confirmed new U.S. Ambassador to Brazil Todd Chapman and State Department Brazil Desk Economist Ben Kalt.  Ambassador Chapman, with whom USCIB worked in the past during Chapman’s earlier appointment as U.S. Ambassador to Ecuador, had hoped to meet in person with USCIB staff and member companies but settled for an introductory call in light of COVID-19 precautions.

According to Donnelly, the Ambassador assured USCIB that the Brazil’s Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) accession process will be at the top of his policy agenda throughout his assignment in Brazil.

Donnelly and Hampl outlined USCIB’s role in the OECD accession process, serving as the official voice of U.S. business in all OECD matters, directly and as the U.S. affiliate of the Business at OECD (known as BIAC) business coalition on the ground at the OECD.

“We shared our experiences with the OECD, BIAC, the U.S. Government, the government of Colombia and business leaders on Colombia’s recent OECD accession,” said Donnelly. “We discussed possible modalities for embassy-USCIB cooperation throughout the OECD accession process as well as ways both USCIB and the embassy might work most effectively with CNI, which is Brazil’s largest and most influential business organization.”

USCIB has also worked extensively with CNI–as national committee partners in Business at OECD, as well as in the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), the International Organization of Employers (IOE) and the Major Economies Business Forum (BizMEF) for climate change.

Ambassador Chapman enthusiastically signed up for a meeting with USCIB member companies on one of his early return visits to Washington after he gets settled in Brasilia.

The OECD accession process is a comprehensive, rigorous, and lengthy process, often running three to five years or more, with more than a dozen OECD committees and other bodies each carefully reviewing the candidate country’s laws, regulations, and practices to confirm they are in line with OECD standards.  When all relevant OECD committees and subsidiary bodies are satisfied by the applicant’s “like-mindedness” and commitment to OECD standards, the OECD “Council” of thirty-six ambassadors can formally approve the accession and invite the candidate country to file its binding acceptance of membership.

According to Donnelly, given Brazil’s prominent role in the global economy and, frankly, its history of barriers to foreign goods, services and investments, Brazil’s candidacy will likely attract great interest from OECD member governments and the Business at OECD coalition.  USCIB will be at the head of the line in that business effort.  The Brazil accession case has some important unique aspects, probably most important the strong early endorsement from President Trump personally.

If you have questions, concerns, or recommendations concerning Brazil OECD accession process, please contact Eva Hampl (ehampl@uscib.org) or Shaun Donnelly (sdonnelly@uscib.org).

Business Continuity During COVID-19

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World Customs Organization (WCO) Harmonized System Committee – 65th Session

The 65th Session of the World Customs Organization (WCO) Harmonized System Committee (HSC), which will be held:

March 11 – 20, 2020, at WCO Headquarters in Brussels.

USCIB, as part of the ICC delegation, will be participating in this meeting.

Please reach out to Megan Giblin (mgiblin@uscib.org) with any questions, clarifications, and/or to discuss further.

Coronavirus Impact on ATA Carnet

USCIB, as the national guaranteeing and issuing association in the U.S. for ATA Carnets, along with our service providers, Boomerang Carnets and Roanoke, have been watching with concern reports of the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and its potential impact to ATA Carnet holders and the business community at large.

In our role as an advocate for global trade and a passionate supporter of its importance to growth and prosperity, USCIB believes that every effort should be made to balance legitimate health and safety concerns with the imperative to actively support the free flow of goods and services across borders.  In that spirit, we will work with Foreign National Guaranteeing Associations and National Customs Administrations to attempt to mitigate any ATA Carnet claims for U.S. issued Carnets that are caused by restrictions in the country of re-exportation due to the virus.

USCIB has been in contact with China Customs and have received their support on dealing with any future claims on U.S. issued Carnets. At the same time, USCIB also plans to work with U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) in efforts to help mitigate any Chinese Carnets impacted by the virus on re-exportation from the U.S.  It is important to note, however, that all holders should keep as much documentation (e.g. airline ticket cancellations/rebookings, hotel reservation extension etc..) as possible to support their case.

USCIB Welcomes New Vice-Chair of Anti-Illicit Trade Committee

Fernando Peña

Director of Customs and Regulatory Affairs for DHL in the Americas Region Fernando Peña has been appointed vice-chair of USCIB’s Anti-Illicit Trade Committee (AITC).  Illicit trade is a major threat to the U.S. economy and profoundly harms American businesses and citizens.Today’s global illicit markets generate trillions of U.S. dollars every year for organized crime, corrupt facilitators and other bad actors.  Counterfeits, illegal goods and other contraband are sold on our main streets, social media, online marketplaces and the dark web. USCIB Is committed to fight illicit trade globally.

According to Megan Giblin, who leads USCIB’s work on customs, the AITC takes a comprehensive, multi-disciplinary approach to elevating the fight against illicit trade, particularly as it relates to the work of the OECD Task Force on Countering Illicit Trade, the Asia Pacific and Economic Cooperation (APEC), the World Customs Organization (WCO) and other international organizations.

Peña joins AITC chair, David M. Luna, president and CEO of Luna Global Networks & Convergence Strategies LLC, in providing leadership of the Committee and its critical work such as engagement of China and other Source Markets of Fakes, targeted Action on Illicit Trade including Counterfeit and Pirated Goods, AIT Enforcement at Free Trade Zones (FTZs), strengthening Information sharing across sectors and markets as well as addressing “small parcels” trade in contraband and illicit commodities.

“We are very excited that Fernando has accepted a role in leading USCIB’s efforts to elevate the fight against illicit trade” said USCIB Senior Vice President for Policy and Government Affairs Rob Mulligan. “Fernando will be a valuable asset to the AITC objectives and strategic planning.  His wealth of private and public sector experience, including working for U.S. Customs & Border Protection, knowledge of international organizations, focus on Americas region for DHL and his overall understanding of the small parcels environment will be an asset to the work of the Committee.”

“Business has a critical role in mobilizing collective action to counter illicit trade” said Luna. “DHL and other USCIB AITC members can partner with governments to effectively disrupt illicit economies and criminals’ exploitation of global supply chains and FTZs.”

USCIB Welcomes Senate Approval of USMCA

Washington, D.C., January 16, 2020 – The U.S. Council for International Business (USCIB), which represents many of America’s leading global companies, issued the following statement on the announcement today of Congressional approval of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) trade agreement, updating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA):

“USCIB welcomes today’s announcement of Senate approval of USCMA following overwhelming bipartisan support of the agreement in the House of Representatives. USMCA is an important agreement for U.S. industry for future economic growth, containing several provisions important to our members modernizing the original NAFTA, like those on digital trade and customs.

While we continue to be concerned about certain provisions including the erosion of vital protections impacting the ability to innovate for our industry leaders, we applaud Congressional support of the agreement supporting over 12 million American jobs that depend on trade with Canada and Mexico. We look forward to entry into force of this important trade deal for U.S. business, and continued dialogue with the Administration on ensuring critical protections will be upheld in future agreements.”

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.

Contacts:

Kira Yevtukhova, USCIB
+1 202.617.3160,
kyevtukhova@uscib.org
  Glen Brandow, USCIB
+1 212.703.5043,
gbrandow@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. 

OECD Report Weighs In On WTO Moratorium Debate

The much-anticipated Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) report on the World Trade Organization (WTO) moratorium on customs duties on electronic transmissions was de-classified on November 4.

According to USCIB Senior Vice President for Policy and Government Affairs Rob Mulligan, the report, “Electronic transmissions and international trade – Shedding new light on the moratorium debate,” concludes that revenue implications of lifting the Moratorium are likely to be relatively small and would come at the expense of more significant gains in consumer welfare (estimated at 940 million USD) and export competitiveness.

The Moratorium, which has been in place since 1998 and has been continuously extended every couple of years since then, is once again due to expire at the end of 2019. Keeping the Moratorium is crucial for business, and USCIB has been actively engaged in pushing back against the opponents of extending the Moratorium with the ultimate goal of making it permanent.

The OECD report also notes that the highest estimated share of opportunity cost in terms of foregone revenue is in digitizable goods, which is low, at 1.2% of total trade. This will likely remain low even with the advent of technologies such as 3D printing, which are unlikely to have far-reaching implications on trade in the near term.

The report noted that tariffs also come with costs. Tariffs are associated with lower output and lower productivity and their burden falls mainly on domestic consumers, not foreign firms. Tariffs are also an unstable source of revenue. Alternatives exist in the form of non-discriminatory value added taxes or goods and services taxes.

The WTO General Council meeting, set for December 9-11, will provide a final opportunity to extend the Moratorium.

USCIB Releases Statement on China’s WTO Commitments, Urges Bilateral and Plurilateral Dialogue

In response to an annual request by the United States Trade Representative for comments on China’s compliance with WTO commitments and notice of public hearing, USCIB gathered member input and submitted a comprehensive statement on September 18.

The statement emphasizes the direct and important stake American business holds in the relationship between the U.S. and China and in its success. 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. China’s growing importance in the global economy provides strong incentives for both countries to work together to address common challenges and responsibilities.

USCIB members continue to have serious concerns with several policies and practices maintained by China that undermine the ability of U.S. businesses to operate, including unfair and discriminatory governmental practices. Furthermore, 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.

“The tariff actions have not resolved the underlying issues identified by the U.S. or have changed Chinese behavior regarding the matters covered by the investigation or the broader issues identified in this submission,” said Senior Director for Investment, Trade and Financial Services Eva Hampl.

Accordingly, the USCIB submission urged high-level bilateral dialogue between the U.S. and China. USCIB also urged 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 Co-operation 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.

“This annual submission provides a valuable opportunity to stakeholders to share issues that business is facing in China, following their accession 18 years ago in 2001,” said Hampl. Many sectors continue to face significant issues related to market access, transparency, regulation and protection of intellectual property rights. In addition to addressing many cross-sectoral and sector specific issues, this submission takes the opportunity to address the ongoing tariff war with China and the damaging effect that is having on companies.

“USCIB has been consistently pushing back against this tariff escalation, the start of which alleged to address some of the issues highlighted in our broader China WTO submission,” added Hampl. “Our submission clearly shows that the issues related to IP theft and forced tech transfer continue to be a problem for companies doing business in China.”

USCIB Hosts World Customs Organization Secretary General

L-R: Declan Daly (USCIB), Dr. Kunio Mikuriya (WCO), Peter Robinson (USCIB)

USCIB, the U.S. National Committee for ICC, hosted the World Customs Organization (WCO) Secretary General Dr. Kunio Mikuriya on September 12 in Washington DC. USCIB leadership and staff, including President and CEO Peter Robinson, Senior Vice President and CFO Declan Daly and Director for Customs and Trade Facilitation Megan Giblin hosted the meeting.

Attended by many USCIB members across various industry sectors, the meeting provided an opportunity for USCIB staff and members to get Mikuriya’s views on WCO priorities for the next three years, share views on critical customs and anti-illicit trade topics at the WCO, including the ATA Carnet System and Free Trade Zones, and engage in constructive member-driven dialogue.

“As the only global organization authorized to speak on customs matters, WCO is of tremendous importance to the international business community,” said Robinson. “We believe the heart of the WCO is the international customs tariff, the Harmonized System, and its technical work to support the World Trade Organization (WTO) Customs Valuation Agreement and Origin Agreement. These are critical tools for business, which provide needed transparency and predictability.”

USCIB staff and members join meeting with WCO Secretary General

During the meeting, USCIB applauded the WCO and Mikuriya for making the fight against illicit trade and counterfeit as well as pirated goods a high priority for the WCO, including across Free Trade Zones (FTZ). These global trade and transnational security and customs enforcement matters are important to the United States, USCIB and its membership. “USCIB looks forward to continued work on FTZ matters, including at the WCO,” said USCIB Anti-Illicit Trade Committee Chair David Luna of Luna Global Networks & Convergence Strategies, LLC.

The WCO 2019 – 2022 strategic priorities and emerging initiatives include: (1) coordinated border management; (2) safety and security; (3) e-commerce;  (4) Revised Kyoto Convention; (5) Harmonized System; (6) Capacity Building Strategies; (7) performance measurement; (8) integrity; and (9) digital customs and data analysis.

Jerry Cook of Hanesbrands, who also serves as chair of the USCIB Customs Committee, remains committed to the development of relevant technical white papers. “We look forward to continuing to develop and advance our thoughtful consensus member views on issues under discussion and review at the WCO, including the critical work on the future of the Harmonized System, which serves as the international language of trade, and further work on the WCO E-Commerce Framework of Standards, and SAFE Framework of Standards,” said Cook.

Mikuriya began his first-term as WCO Secretary General in 2009. Prior to his current role, Mikuriya served from 2002 as the WCO Deputy Secretary General. Before joining the WCO, Mikuriya spent 25 years with Japan’s Ministry of Finance, serving in an array of senior-level positions.

Click here to learn more about USCIBs Customs and Trade Facilitation Committee.

Click here to learn more about USCIB’ s Anti-Illicit Trade Committee.