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.”

CEO of ICC Finland Talks US-Europe With USCIB Washington Team

L-R: Meghan Giblin, Barbara Wanner, Eva Hampl, Timo Vuori, Rob Mulligan, and Shaun Donnelly

ICC Finland’s Executive Director/CEO and Executive Vice President of the Finland Chamber of Commerce Timo Vuori met with USCIB Senior Vice President for Policy and Government Affairs Rob Mulligan and key staff members of USCIB’s Washington office on February 13.  Vuori, a longtime and influential ICC insider and a good friend of USCIB, is also a key board member of the influential “Eurochambres” continental business leadership group.

The wide-ranging discussion with USCIB staff touched on the challenging U.S.-European Union trade agenda including “232” steel and aluminum tariffs, possibly to be expanded to the automotive sector, as well as digital economy, data and tax issues, and the prospects for some sort of U.S.-EU trade negotiations. The underlying political developments on both sides of the Atlantic, including the Brexit developments were also of interest to all. The group discussed the global trade issues including China and WTO reform while touching on challenges in global customs, regulatory and investment policies. The group compared notes on developments inside the global ICC network and possibilities for promoting U.S.-Finnish trade and investment relationships.

“As usual, our USCIB assessments, priorities and concerns often closely aligned with Timo’s,” noted USCIB Vice President Shaun Donnelly.  “We very much value our close relationships with key partners in USCIB’s unique global network. ICC Finland has long been one of our closest and most reliable partners.  It was a great meeting and we very much appreciate Timo making time to meet with us.”

Vuori was in Washington as part of a Finnish business delegation to meet with the Hill, U.S. agencies and U.S. businesses like USCIB. Vuori also attended an Embassy of Finland dinner, along with USCIB Senior Director Eva Hampl. The theme of the February 12th dinner was “Competitiveness in a Globalized World” and provided an opportunity for a discussion on the impact that trade policies, global companies, technological revolution and politics have on competitiveness. The event was organized on the occasion of the Finnish Minister for Foreign Trade Anne-Mari Virolainen‘s visit to Washington DC.

Hampl Gives Testimony on US-UK Trade Agreement

Eva Hampl provided testimony before the Trade Policy Staff Committee, chaired by USTR, on January 29.
USCIB supports negotiation of a comprehensive trade agreement with the UK as part of a broader strategy to open international markets for U.S. companies and remove barriers and unfair trade practices in support of U.S. jobs.

 

Following USCIB’s submission on January 16 to USTR regarding negotiating objectives for a U.S.-UK Trade Agreement, USCIB Senior Director for Investment, Trade and Financial Services Eva Hampl provided testimony before the Trade Policy Staff Committee, chaired by USTR, on January 29.

“USCIB supports negotiation of a comprehensive trade agreement with the UK as part of a broader strategy to open international markets for U.S. companies and remove barriers and unfair trade practices in support of U.S. jobs,” said Hampl in her testimony. “We strongly believe that continued U.S.-UK free trade is overwhelmingly in the interests of both countries and their global trading partners, provided that the agreement is a high standard and comprehensive bilateral trade and investment agreement. A successful trade agreement with the UK should cover not just market access for goods, but also address important services issues.”

Hampl’s testimony also emphasized the importance of regulatory cohesion across the United States, the UK and the European market as a key component in further liberalizing trade. Regulatory discrimination and differentiation between trade partners can be an obstacle to trade, investment and the ability to conduct business. Affected sectors include pharmaceuticals, chemicals and fintech.

Hampl also raised the issue of digital trade. “U.S. companies rely on cross-border data flows as part of their day-to-day operations,” said Hampl. “A U.S.-UK agreement should include requirements that data can flow unimpeded across borders except for limited and well-defined public policy exceptions, ensuring that they are not used as disguised barriers to trade.”

Regarding intellectual property (IP) protection, Hampl noted that at a minimum, a U.S.-UK agreement should enshrine existing protections and enforcement mechanisms. It should also address sectoral IP issues, such as in the pharmaceutical space.

To read Hampl’s testimony, please click here.

USCIB Submits Negotiating Objectives for US-UK Trade Agreement

Given a recent request for comments by the United States Trade Representative (USTR), USCIB submitted negotiating objectives for a U.S.-UK Trade Agreement on January 16. USCIB believes that continued U.S.-UK free trade is overwhelmingly in the interests of both countries and their global trading partners, provided that the agreement is a high standard and comprehensive bilateral trade and investment agreement. The UK is an important trade partner for the United States, currently being the seventh largest goods trading partner of the United States. U.S. goods and services trade with the UK totaled an estimated $231.9 billion in 2017, with exports totaling $123 billion.

“USCIB’s submission is based on the assumption that the UK will be successful in exiting the EU by March 29, 2019, allowing for the ability to negotiate trade agreements with trade partners outside of the EU,” said Eva Hampl, senior director for investment, trade and financial services. “With that in mind, priority issues for negotiations of a U.S-UK Trade Agreement raised in our submission include digital trade (including cross border data flows, forced localization, cybersecurity and digital taxation), intellectual property, media and entertainment services, financial services, electronic payment services, customs and trade facilitation, express delivery services, regulatory cohesion, investment, government procurement, and chemicals.”

The submission also emphasized the importance of improved regulatory cohesion across the United States, the UK, and the European market, which would likely be among the greatest gains from a future trade agreement between the United States and the UK.

“The objective of such improved regulatory cohesion is to facilitate trade in a way that ensures the existing market remains intact,” added Hampl. “It should thus be a key component in furtherance of the liberalizing trade objective that is driving the U.S.-UK trade relationship.”

USCIB’s submission also recalled its support of a comprehensive, high-standard Transatlantic Trade and Investment agreement, eliminating of tariff and no-tariff barriers on goods and services trade, including between the United States and the UK. The range of issues that were on the table at the time, ranging from strong investment protections, to increased trade facilitation, and regulatory coherence, continue to be of great importance to USCIB members.

USCIB will also provide testimony at the public hearing scheduled to take place on January 29, 2019 before the Trade Policy Staff Committee (TPSC) at the United States International Trade Commission.