USCIB Congratulates Daren Tang on New Role as WIPO Director General

Daren Tang
Photo Credit: EPA-EFE

USCIB issued a statement on March 5, congratulating Daren Tang, Singapore’s chief executive of intellectual property, on his election to the post of director general for the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

The WIPO Coordination Committee, which comprises eighty-three member states, met on March 4, and held two rounds of voting from an initial list of six candidates. According to USCIB Vice President for Product Policy and Innovation Mike Michener, Kazakhstan’s candidate withdrew her candidacy ahead of the first round of voting. Following the first round, the candidate with the least votes, from Peru, was eliminated. Two other candidates – from Colombia and Ghana – withdrew their candidatures ahead of the second round of voting. Tang prevailed in the second and final round of voting with fifty-five votes; China’s Binying Wang received twenty-eight votes. The WIPO General Assembly will meet in an extraordinary session on May 7-8, 2020, to confirm the Coordination Committee’s nomination.

The term of the current Director General, Francis Gurry, ends on September 30, 2020. A delegation of USCIB members met with Director General Gurry during USCIB Geneva Week in May 2019.

USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson commended WIPO member states and the U.S. Administration for supporting Mr. Tang:

“The election of Mr. Tang as Director General of the WIPO is good news for American business and entrepreneurs, as well as for the global economy and rule-of-law.  Mr. Tang understands the importance of intellectual property rights to all those whose livelihoods depend on the ingenuity and creative genius of inventors, artists and the companies who employ them. There is a clear correlation between economic growth and the development of new inventions, technologies and creative products that are protected by patents, trademarks and copyrights.  USCIB applauds the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Director Andrei Iancu, Ambassador Andrew Bremberg and his team in Geneva, and the State Department Bureau of International Organization Affairs for their hard work and support of Mr. Tang’s candidacy. We look forward to continuing our work with WIPO to protect intellectual property as a means of driving global innovation, investment, and economic opportunity.”

USCIB Congratulates Daren Tang on New Role as WIPO Director General

Daren Tang. Photo credit: OpenGov Asia

The United States Council for International Business (USCIB) congratulates Daren Tang, Singapore’s chief executive of intellectual property, on his election to the post of director general for the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson commended WIPO member states and the U.S. Administration for supporting Mr. Tang:

“The election of Daren Tang as Director General of the WIPO is good news for American business and entrepreneurs, as well as for the global economy and rule-of-law.  Mr. Tang understands the importance of intellectual property rights to all those whose livelihoods depend on the ingenuity and creative genius of inventors, artists and the companies who employ them. There is a clear correlation between economic growth and the development of new inventions, technologies and creative products that are protected by patents, trademarks and copyrights.  USCIB applauds USPTO Director Andrei Iancu, Ambassador Andrew Bremberg and his team in Geneva, and the State Department Bureau of International Organization Affairs for their hard work and support of Mr. Tang’s candidacy. We look forward to continuing our work with WIPO to protect intellectual property as a means of driving global innovation, investment, and economic opportunity.”

USCIB Statement on Signing of USMCA

Washington, D.C., January 29, 2020 – The U.S. Council for International Business (USCIB), which represents many of America’s leading global companies, welcomes today’s signing of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) trade agreement, updating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Over 12 million American jobs depend on trade with Canada and Mexico, so USMCA is an important agreement for U.S. industry for future economic growth.

“The agreement contains several provisions modernizing the original NAFTA, creating new opportunities for American companies and consumers,” said USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson. “However, USMCA also leaves room for improvement for future negotiations, so we look forward to continued dialogue with the Administration on ensuring critical protections will be upheld in future agreements.”

  • Digital Trade: USMCA contains a state of the art digital trade chapter, including prohibiting cross-border data flow restrictions and data localization requirements, prohibiting requirements for source code or algorithm disclosure or transfer as a condition for market access, prohibiting customs duties on electronic transmissions, provisions on consumer protection, privacy, cybersecurity and open government data. This new chapter allows companies to more effectively operate in the modern global economy.
  • Customs and Trade Facilitation: USMCA significantly updates the customs and trade facilitation provisions from the original NAFTA, ensuring that goods can efficiently flow in and out of the United States. The parties agreed on provisions related to trade facilitation, including the creation of a single-access window system and expedited customs procedures for express shipments. The agreement also includes commitments from Canada and Mexico to increase their de minimis levels, moving toward leveling the playing field for American companies.
  • Labor provisions: The original NAFTA was the first FTA to include labor provisions, though they were contained in side letters. USCMA brings the labor chapter into the agreement’s body, introduces strengthened labor provisions and makes them enforceable. The provisions require adherence to core labor standards of the International Labor Organization (ILO) and effective enforcement of national labor laws.
  • IP protections: USMCA contains important provisions protecting the intellectual property rights (IPR) of American companies, including protections on patents, copyright, trademarks and trade secrets, which are important for the ability of American companies to continue to innovate. One major omission, however, is the opportunity to fully protect biologics. The removal of increased market exclusivity of biologics in the final agreement is detrimental to American companies and consumers.
  • Investment: Protections for American companies when investing in Canada or Mexico are vital to ensure continued growth and development. USMCA contains such protections for many sectors, however does not fully protect all American companies across the board by significantly limiting access to the dispute settlement mechanism. In addition, even the limited dispute settlement mechanism is only available with Mexico, so for investment disputes with Canada, American investors have to rely on mechanisms outside of the newly negotiated agreement. Picking winners and losers for investment protection is not an appropriate precedent for U.S. FTAs going forward.

USCIB looks forward to entry into force and effective implementation of this important trade deal for U.S. business, and increased trade opportunities for our members.

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 Commends Phase 1 China Deal, Urges Further Negotiations

Washington, D.C., January 15, 2020 – The United States Council for International Business (USCIB), which represents many of America’s leading global companies, welcomes the signing of a Phase One deal with China today in Washington.

China continues to be an important market for U.S. business, and we recognize the progress on food and agricultural export opportunities in this agreement. It also addresses issues related to resolving intellectual property theft and forced technology transfer, which negatively affect the global competitiveness of our companies, but more remains to be done to ensure American companies are afforded a level playing field in China.

USCIB continues to support a comprehensive, high-standard deal that that holds China accountable for complying with their international obligations, vigorously pursuing a level playing field overseas, while avoiding policies that undermine U.S. industry competitiveness. We look forward to studying the details of this initial Phase One deal, and to a next phase of negotiations to address remaining issues, including removing the harmful tariffs that have been imposed on both sides.

In addition to working directly with China, we also continue to urge the Administration to work closely with allies to address many of these concerns on fundamental Chinese policies and practices. We are therefore pleased that the United States is continuing to work with the European Union and Japan toward that goal, exemplified by the cabinet-level meetings this week in Washington.

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.

UN Climate Talks: Prominent Business Group Holds Dialogue, Welcomes New Members

USCIB’s Norine Kennedy

As in previous years, USCIB joined its global business partners to hold a Major Economies Business Forum (BizMEF) Business Dialogue during a United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) conference. This year’s UNFCCC 25th Conference of the Parties (COP25) is taking place in Madrid, Spain under the Chilean presidency.

This year’s Business Dialogue was hosted by the Spanish Confederation of Employers (CEOE) on December 8. Reaching an important milestone, this year’s Dialogue commemorated twenty-five years of business cooperation and involvement in the UN climate process. The latest Dialogue served as an important forum of discussion for emerging issues and institutional changes that are necessary to mobilize business knowhow and resources at every stage of climate policy and action.

BizMEF Business Dialogue at COP25

Senior government representatives of Chile, the European Commission, France, Japan, and the United Kingdom joined World Trade Organization (WTO), International Organization of Employers (IOE) and UNFCCC speakers at the Dialogue to share perspectives on integrated policy options inside and outside the UN climate process.

“We are here to mark this as what it must be – a turning point and inspiration to do even more and better, as well as involve more companies of all sectors sizes and nationalities on board,” said USCIB Vice President of Strategic International Engagement, Energy and Environment Norine Kennedy.

BizMEF members include major national and regional multi-sectoral business groups in developed and developing countries.  At the COP25 Business Dialogue, BizMEF welcomed two new partner organizations: CEOE and the Santiago Chamber of Commerce. USCIB serves as the Secretariat for BizMEF.

Please refer to USCIB’s COP25 Statement for more information on USCIB’s climate policy position.

USCIB Represents US Business Views at UN Climate Talks

The 25th United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties (COP) is in the home stretch, as Ministers meet in Madrid to seek political compromise on carbon markets and offsets, as well as to set the stage for pledges of deeper cuts in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

According to USCIB Vice President for Strategic International Engagement, Energy and Environment Norine Kennedy, who is reporting from the field, a fundamental goal of COP25 is to complete unfinished business from the previous year, specifically as it relates to the Paris Agreement and its provisions for carbon markets and offsets, often referred to as “Article 6”.

“Avoiding double-counting crediting for carbon sinks and determining whether a percentage of the value of carbon trade transactions will be allocated to developing countries are two unresolved issues for the business community here at COP25,” said Kennedy. She also noted that the validity of the Kyoto Protocol’s carbon “currency” to the new Paris Agreement carbon regime is also under development.

An additional imperative is the need for deeper and faster cuts in GHG emissions that are required to limit temperature rise to 1.5 degrees, and to get on track to a proposed 2050 net-carbon neutrality objective.

Additional issues yet to be resolved, but are closely being monitored by USCIB, are common timeframes to be covered by voluntary national GHG reduction pledges, known as NDCs, financial support to developing countries for GHG reductions and technology cooperation, as well as how to treat compensation for loss and damage from climate change-related impacts.

Over 30,000 are attending this COP, including Michael Bloomberg, Al Gore, John Kerry, Harrison Ford and other prominent figures have joined high-level government representatives, UN agencies and NGOs.

USCIB’s delegation, led by Kennedy and USCIB Policy Associate Claudia Herbert Colfer, included member representatives from Arkema, Bayer, Chevron, Mars and Novozymes. USCIB has been tracking the complex discussions, meeting with U.S. and other government delegations and partnering with key business groups.

The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) serves as focal point for business, convening daily business briefings to share intelligence and organizing the UNFCCC Business Day, which took place on December 6.

The two-week COP began on December 2, and will run through December 13, under the Presidency of Chile. COP25 was moved to Madrid, Spain following civil unrest in Chile.

USCIB Statement: 25th UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of the Parties

COP25 in Madrid, Spain
Photo credit: UNFCCC

USCIB issued the following statement on December 6 for the 25th United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Conference of the Parties (COP25). The statement reflects U.S. business priorities.

For the 25th year, USCIB is participating in deliberations of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Madrid. USCIB joins with many others in highlighting the critical importance of inclusive multilateralism as a means to increase pace and impact to meet climate commitments and objectives, involving all societal partners, including the private sector. Economic policies that drive growth and create jobs in the green economy will be critical to generate the necessary resources and enable business to make its strongest contributions to implementation of the UNFCCC and its Paris Agreement, and to sustainable development.

Since its conclusion in Paris in 2015, USCIB has supported the Paris Agreement. USCIB recognizes and expresses its deep appreciation to U.S. delegations for attending and engaging responsively with U.S. business at UNFCCC meetings. We continue to encourage the Administration to remain at the Paris Agreement table to advance and defend U.S. environmental protection, economic growth, innovation and competitiveness, as it has done consistently in the UNFCCC since COP1.

USCIB recognizes that urgent action to tackle climate change is needed on all fronts. According to the IPCC, reducing future climate-related risks in the context of sustainable development will depend on the upscaling and acceleration of far-reaching climate mitigation and both incremental and transformational adaptation. In this regard, business investment, innovation and action, working in partnership with governments, society and other stakeholders will be vital.

We continue to call for the commitment of all governments to this global effort, so that business and government can work together to enact economically sound policies that:

  • Promote development, deployment and use of cleaner and more efficient technologies and energy sources
  • Enhance sustainable energy access and security in all countries
  • Utilize markets and market-based approaches to animate least-cost GHG reductions, working through multilateral trade
  • Drive investment in innovation for mitigation and adaption
  • Seek to strengthen synergy across multilateral trade, investment and climate policy frameworks

As we work to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement, we need to include all of society’s stakeholders working together towards a sustainable path for communities, workers and the climate that leaves no one behind. Of particular importance will be government education and training policies that are inclusive and support workers and their communities in securing the skills, capabilities and investments needed to thrive in the face of transformative change.

We share the concern about the need for more rapid and widespread progress toward the Paris goals, and encourage renewed efforts to get back on track, in particular with relation to Article 6.

We welcome ambitious aspirations on the part of organizations and companies and look forward to mobilizing the best of business forward in addressing this critical global challenge, delivering energy access and security, job creation and shared economic prosperity.

USCIB Announces Launch of a Biodiversity Working Group

Responding to intergovernmental policy discussions on biodiversity, their implications for American companies, and the opportunity for private sector nature-based solutions, USCIB has announced the launch of a new multi-committee Working Group on Biodiversity. The Working Group is drawn from USCIB’s Environment, Intellectual Property and Innovation and Food and Agriculture committees to reflect the cross-cutting nature and impacts of proposed policies for U.S. companies doing business in global markets. It will begin its work in early November, with a focus on tracking and disseminating business-relevant information about the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (UN CBD) negotiations to interested USCIB members.

According to USCIB Vice President for Energy, Environment and Strategic International Engagement Norine Kennedy, this new group will also provide a platform to work with the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) Working Group, the Global Industry Coalition and other business initiatives related to biodiversity. The Biodiversity Working Group will also facilitate USCIB representation at UN CBD meetings (by both members and USCIB staff) and support the development of USCIB positions as needed.

“The UN CBD is developing a post-2020 biodiversity framework, which will feed into the UN Sustainable Development Goals,” noted Kennedy. “We hope to use this new platform to work with our international partners, such as ICC, to ensure that governments adopt policies that encourage business innovation and include business in future discussions.”

USCIB is planning to attend a workshop on November 6 in Madrid, organized by ICC and Business for Nature Consultation. Workshop participants will discuss and develop draft policy recommendations to governments that are needed to further scale-up existing actions and commitments taken by business to reverse nature loss and restore natural systems.

 If you are a USCIB member interested in joining this Working Group, please contact USCIB Vice President for Energy, Environment and Strategic International Engagement Norine Kennedy.

Hampl Contributes Expertise at OECD Workshop on Investment

USCIB Senior Director Eva Hampl speaks at OECD

USCIB Senior Director for Trade, Finance and Investment Eva Hampl contributed her expertise on a panel hosted by the OECD during its workshop on investment promotion and facilitation in Paris on October 22. The day-long event focused on investment facilitation and retention, foreign direct investment (FDI) impact on the host economy, as well as organized break-out sessions focusing on specific regions such as the European Union, Eurasia and select Latin America and Caribbean countries.

Hampl’s panel also featured Ambassador of Chile to the WTO and Coordinator of the WTO Structured Discussions on Investment Facilitation for Development Eduardo Gálvez, Director, Services and Industry Promotion Department, Ministry of Foreign Relations of Brazil Min. Luiz Cesar Gasser, Executive Director, Invest in Finland, Business Finland Antti Aumo and Head of Investment Policy Unit, DG Trade, European Commission Carlo Pettinato. Panelists addressed key roles of investment promotion agencies (IPAs) and policymakers in facilitating business establishment, securing investment retention and encouraging re-investments.

As the sole business representative on the panel, Hampl discussed common challenges that companies face on the ground at the establishment phase or for expansions and re-investments in both OECD and non-OECD economies. She suggested measures that governments can make in order to facilitate the establishment of companies to encourage them to stay in the home country. Hampl also touched upon the U.S. business perspective of the WTO discussions on investment facilitation.

“Investment is vital to economic growth and development,” said Hampl during the panel. “However businesses face many challenges when investing, including regulatory issues, lack of IP protections, lack of appropriate redress, inefficiencies and costs generated by forced localization policies and duplicative testing requirements, skills disparity, inability to find suitable business partners, etc. There is unfortunately no one size fits all approach — every country needs to work out what works best within the economy. But any measures should improve the rule of law and strengthen the institutions — more carrot than stick.”

The purpose of the workshop was to build on the IPA mappings to deepen OECD research in certain areas of investment promotion and facilitation, strengthen the knowledge of the OECD IPA Network and exchange on topics of common interest.

Hampl is attending a slew of investment-related meetings taking place at the OECD this week, including an OECD Roundtable on Investment and Sustainable Development, a Business at OECD (BIAC) dinner with the OECD Investment Committee leadership, a Business at OECD Investment Committee meeting and a stakeholder consultation with the OECD Investment Committee.

Hampl Provides Testimony at Interagency Committee on China’s WTO Compliance

Following USCIB’s annual submission to the U.S. Trade Representative regarding China’s compliance with its WTO commitments, USCIB Senior Director for Trade, Investment and Financial Services Eva Hampl provided testimony before the interagency Trade Policy Staff Committee, which was chaired by USTR and included officials from the Departments of Commerce, Treasury, State, Agriculture and Labor.

“USCIB members continue to have serious concerns with 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,” stated Hampl. “The tariff actions under Section 301 have not to date resolved the underlying issues [of forced technology transfer and intellectual property theft] identified by the United States. Accordingly, high-level bilateral dialogue between the United States and China continues to be of the utmost importance. We also urge 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 Cooperation and Development (OECD), to work toward improved commercial relations.”

The questions from the panel addressed the problematic enforcement of the anti-monopoly law, the myriad of certification and testing requirements, the current cybersecurity regime, market access (China’s filtering and blocking of websites and online services), the dysfunctional approval process for new agricultural biotechnology products, and recent developments on  China’s labor laws.

USCIB submitted extensive written comments last month. The submission is public and can also be found on www.regulations.gov under Docket Number USTR-2019-0010.