USCIB Letter Urges Agreement on EU-US Personal Data Flows

USCIB submitted a letter to both the U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo and the European Commissioner for Justice Didier Reynders regarding the transatlantic agreement on EU-U.S. personal data flows.

The July 14 letter, signed by a variety of sectors across the transatlantic business community, urged a swift agreement for a new, strengthened EU-U.S. framework.

The letter noted: “we were encouraged by the recent EU-U.S. Summit commitment to ‘work together to ensure safe, secure, and trusted cross-border data flows that protect consumers and enhance privacy protections, while enabling Transatlantic commerce’ and to ‘strengthen legal certainty in Transatlantic flows of personal data.’”

According to the letter, thousands of European and American companies continue to be impacted by the EU’s Court of Justice judgement that invalidated the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield Framework just over a year ago.

“USCIB’s ICT Policy Committee will continue to monitor the Privacy Shield negotiations closely and engage with appropriate U.S. Government officials given the importance of a new sustainable transfer framework agreement to reinvigorating both U.S. and EU economic and business interests,” said Barbara Wanner, USCIB vice president for ICT policy.

Digital Economy Architects to Keynote at Joint OECD, Business at OECD and USCIB Conference

New York, N.Y., March 16, 2021 — For the past year, the COVID-19 pandemic has required us to conduct our lives virtually and has, subsequently, highlighted the relevance of the OECD’s Internet Policy Principles (IPPs). These principles call for a global free flow of information and services, multistakeholder participation, and cooperation to ensure Internet security and privacy. With these issues in mind, USCIB joined with the OECD and Business at OECD (BIAC) to organize a Digital Economy Conference focusing on “A Decade of OECD Internet Principles: Policy-Making in a Data-Driven World.” Key experts, such as MIT’s Daniel Weitzner, Microsoft’s Julie Brill, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce Christopher Hoff, Ambassador David Gross of Wiley, and Sharri Clark from the White House, as well as OECD’s Andrew Wyckoff, among others, will discuss the evolving digital ecosystem, Artificial Intelligence (AI), government access to data, and challenges to both business and policymakers.

“The IPPs, adopted in 2011, have underpinned the OECD’s evolving work on digital economy issues in the past decade,” said USCIB Vice President for ICT Policy Barbara Wanner. “These themes have also been echoed in recent digital economy work of the United Nations, the UN Internet Governance Forum, and other multilateral bodies.”

The May 25 virtual conference, officially the “Joseph H. Alhadeff Digital Economy Conference,” will consider how the IPPs have been reflected in some of the OECD’s ground-breaking digital work – such as development of the AI Principles. Industry experts will also consider how the Principles may be employed to address challenges posed by the rapid pace of digital innovation and related changes to the digital ecosystem.

Registration is now open for this conference. Please contact Erin Breitenbucher to register: ebreitenbucher@uscib.org.

Members of the press and media are also welcome to register and join.

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.

Global Business Statement on Safeguarding International Data Flows

USCIB joined dozens of global associations in a letter to the EU expressing concern to ongoing developments in the European Union on international data flows. The letter notes that international data flows are an integral pillar of global trade, and any disruption to their free flow constitutes a major challenge to every economic sector.

“The recent developments in the European Union are creating deep uncertainty throughout the world, as the wide geographic variety of co-signatories to this statement demonstrates,” emphasized USCIB Vice President for ICT Policy Barbara Wanner.

In addition, the repercussions of an unduly restrictive approach to data flows, the letter notes it will also hit hard more traditional European industries, as the recent BusinessEurope-led coalition statement underlines.

“We underline the importance of providing certainty for all businesses and their data transfers to third countries,” the letter notes. “Any disruption must be avoided in order to minimise negative economic consequences, particularly in the wake of the global COVID-19 crisis and the economic recovery phase that we will enter in 2021. Crucially, our organizations believe that this can be achieved while respecting European data protection law, if a pragmatic and flexible approach prevails.”

Carol Doran Klein Retires, USCIB Welcomes Rick Minor as New Tax Lead

Carol Doran Klein
Carol Doran Klein

USCIB is pleased to announce that Richard Minor (who goes by Rick) has joined as its next International Tax Counsel upon Carol Doran Klein’s retirement.

“Carol has contributed immeasurably to the strengthening of the USCIB tax practice and we are grateful for her professional contributions and personal friendship over the last ten years,” said Peter Robinson, USCIB’s president and CEO. He added, “While we are saddened to see Carol go, Rick is a worthy successor and an excellent addition to the USCIB team. He brings a wealth of technical knowledge on international tax matters, experience in OECD tax policy and process, and a robust foreign government and European Commission network. I’m confident his expertise and international perspective will serve USCIB members well.”

Rick Minor
Rick Minor

Minor has deep experience in both the private and public sectors, having held senior tax roles with three large companies in Europe, in addition to serving as a Digital Policy Advisor to the Government of Luxembourg on a broad range of cross-border business issues with particular regard to EU data privacy, VAT and digital tax policy. His corporate background included positions as Vice President, Group Tax Counsel and Government Affairs for AOL Europe; Head of Tax, EMEA for ArcelorMittal; and Director of Tax, EMEA for Honeywell Europe. Minor also served as Director of International Cooperation and Business Investment for the North Carolina Department of Commerce, working to attract U.S. and foreign corporate investment to North Carolina. Minor got his bachelors at Duke University, his law degree at UNC-Chapel Hill and his LL.M. in tax at Georgetown. He began his career as an attorney specializing in international tax planning with global law firms in DC, Munich and London. Doran Klein and Minor served together on the OECD Technical Advisory Group (TAG) for VAT.

Minor assumes management of the USCIB Committee on Taxation, which promotes sound, appropriate and consistent international tax policy in the U.S. and overseas, including minimizing double taxation. The committee is chaired by Bill Sample, tax policy advisor at Microsoft Corporation, and encompasses leading tax professionals from USCIB member companies and organizations. The committee is especially active on OECD matters, in view of USCIB’s role as the American affiliate of Business at OECD (BIAC), and organizes a yearly conference bringing together USCIB members with top tax officials from the OECD and member governments.

USCIB Issues Recommendations to EU on a Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism

The European Union concluded a public consultation last month on a proposed Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM), part of the EU’s ambitious Green Deal, focusing on deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions. USCIB submitted its members’ response on October 28, drawing on the expertise of its Committees on Customs, Environment, Taxation as well as Trade and Investment.

“The EU CBAM proposal is complex, seeking to “level the playing field” by imposing extra costs on imports from countries with different climate change policies” said USCIB Vice President for Environment, Energy and Strategic International Engagement Norine Kennedy. “In our comments, we addressed climate change, trade and technical aspects of the proposal which we believe to be most relevant to American companies doing business with, and in, the EU.”

One critical recommendation was on timing; USCIB encouraged the EU to undertake thorough consultative and data-based economic and trade impact assessments, especially with regards to developing countries, to avoid unintended and counter-productive consequences on livelihoods. “As countries continue to experience the fall out and economic disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic, we believe governments should proceed cautiously before adding stresses to the global trading system,” warned Eva Hampl, USCIB senior director for trade, investment and financial services.

USCIB also stressed the importance of ensuring compatibility with World Trade Organization (WTO) rules, warning that some elements of the EU CBAM proposal are unclear, which may lead to time-consuming disputes and delay the positive potential for deployment of innovative technologies and materials vital to climate change action, as well as hinder economic growth and recovery.

Hampl added: “Any further development of this currently counter-productive proposal must avoid and head off climate disputes at the WTO that may lead to unpredictable or unintended negative outcomes in environment, climate and trade negotiations.”

On technical practicality and administrative burdens, USCIB’s recommendation included reducing those burdens and the associated costs of compliance, which would inevitably subtract from resources available for other areas of environmental improvement.

USCIB believes that synergies between trade and environment protection should be the focus of international cooperation, and unilateral measures should be discouraged.

“Open trade advances economic prosperity and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and it is an essential vehicle to achieve widespread and rapid deployment of climate-related investments and cleaner and more efficient technologies and forms of energy,” emphasized Kennedy. “To meet the commitments and objectives of the SDGs, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Paris Agreement, it is clear that more trade will be needed.”

For more information:

Earlier this year, USCIB published a paper Seeking Synergies: Environment, Climate and Trade Policy.

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 Welcomes a Changing of the Guard at US Mission to OECD

Andrew Havilland
Photo source: U.S. Mission to the OECD

Late summer is traditionally turnover season at U.S. diplomatic missions overseas, according to U.S. Ambassador (ret.) Shaun Donnelly, who serves as senior adviser at USCIB. Pandemic notwithstanding, 2020 is no exception. For USCIB, a key move is at the U.S. Mission to the OECD in Paris. Andrew Havilland is wrapping up three years as chargé d’affaires (i.e. acting Ambassador) at the U.S. Mission to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).  Three years ago, Havilland arrived in Paris as deputy chief of mission (DCM) at the OECD but for three years, no U.S. Ambassador has been confirmed.

“Havilland has done a fantastic job leading the U.S. Mission through a very challenging period,” said Donnelly. “He is liked, respected and listened to across the OECD and beyond.”

Throughout his time in Paris, Havilland worked closely with USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson and other USCIB staff on a wide range of major policy issues.

Whitney Baird Photo source: US Mission to the EU

“We are, of course, sad to see Andrew depart Paris but are delighted that he’s being replaced as DCM/Chargé by Whitney Baird, another one of the State Department’s very best senior economic experts,” noted Robinson. Baird has a background in EU issues and trade policy and is coming from a tour as deputy assistant secretary of state for African affairs, in charge of West African and regional issues. She will be arriving in Paris next week to take over leadership of the Mission.

Robinson led a September 2 virtual session with Baird and Havilland for USCIB policy managers to brief Baird on key policy issues ahead at the OECD for USCIB member companies; tax policy, including digital services tax, and Internet and digital economy issues were at the top of the agenda, but other important policy areas were also discussed – from trade and investment, environment, labor and social affairs, anti-corruption and responsible business conduct to health and anti-illicit trade.

Additionally, Robinson and USCIB policy experts thanked Havilland and his team for their access and close cooperation on a range of issues over the past few years and agreed to continue the close, mutually beneficial cooperation on key OECD issues, organizational as well as policy-related, with Baird and her U.S. Mission team going forward. For the foreseeable future, that cooperation, like all USCIB engagement with the OECD and Business at OECD (BIAC) will be by email, conference call and Zoom sessions.

After a three and-a-half year gap in the post of U.S. Ambassador, President Donald Trump nominated current State Department Assistant Secretary for Economic and Business Affairs Manisha Singh as the next U.S. Ambassador to the OECD on May 5. If confirmed, Singh would assume charge of the U.S. Mission to the OECD and Baird would revert to the DCM role. Assistant Secretary Singh had a confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) on August 6. The SFRC will now need to vote on her nomination and then, if voted out of committee, the Full Senate would have to vote on her confirmation before she could be sworn in as the next U.S. Ambassador to the OECD and take up the post in Paris. Until that time Baird will head the U.S. Mission as Chargé d’Affaires.

Note: If members have questions or suggestions related to ongoing OECD issues, please work with the appropriate USCIB policy manager and/or relevant USCIB committee leadership.  USCIB staff stand ready to assist member companies with any OECD-related issues, including introductions to new Chargé Whitney Baird and her senior staff.

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. 

USCIB Reports on Public Hearing on Digital Services Tax

USCIB submitted comments on August 19 to the Section 301 Committee on the Investigation of France’s Digital Services Tax (DST).  According to USCIB’s taxation and trade policy experts Carol Doran Klein and Eva Hampl, USCIB believes that France’s DST is actionable under Section 301 because it is unreasonable and discriminates against U.S. companies.

USCIB’s comments note that the DST is also inconsistent with France’s obligations under the World Trade Organization (WTO), the U.S.-France Income Tax Treaty, and the Convention of Establishment between the United States and France. USCIB urges USTR to engage toward a negotiated outcome, including through multilateral channels, such as the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the WTO.

The Section 301 Committee, chaired by USTR, held a public hearing on Monday. According to Klein and Hampl who attended the hearing, all of the witnesses expressed great support for the work being done at the OECD and the Inclusive Framework process, noting that unilateral measures will undermine the OECD process and make it more difficult to reach agreement. USCIB has been actively engaged at the OECD on this issue, providing business input to governments, to help guide them to a workable multilateral solution.

Donnelly Offers US Perspectives to Nordic Business Delegation

USCIB joined with the local Washington offices of key international partner business groups, including the Representative of German Industry and Trade RGIT/BDI, CII from India, TUSIAD from Turkey, Keidanren from Japan and CBI from the UK, in a very useful free-wheeling briefing session for a visiting delegation from leading Nordic business associations.

The visiting Nordic delegation included senior representatives from the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise (”SE”), Confederation of Danish Enterprise (“DI”), Confederation of Finnish Industries (“EK”), and Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise (“NHO”), all of which are national committee partners of USCIB in one or more of USCIB’s international groupings of Business at OECD (BIAC), the International Organization of Employers and the International Chamber of Commerce.

Shaun Donnelly, USCIB vice president for investment and financial services, was the only representative in the room from a U.S. trade association, offering American perspectives and explanations for some of the unprecedented current policy developments in the U.S. and globally.

“Our Nordic partner business organizations are generally strong pro-market, pro-liberalization allies for U.S. business globally and, importantly, within the EU,” said Donnelly. “The delegations had met with the usual suspects on the Washington trade scene in their packed three-day visit but, frankly, left town with as many questions as answers. USCIB will continue to work our Nordic partner associations and other allies across our unique global network to advance our key policy objectives.”