The 2019 OECD International Tax Conference
June 3-4, 2019
Four Seasons Hotel, Washington
The 2019 OECD International Tax Conference
June 3-4, 2019
Four Seasons Hotel, Washington
Vice President – Tax
Timothy M. McDonald
Vice President, Finance & Accounting, Global Taxes
The Procter & Gamble Company
Deputy Global Tax Policy Leader
Inbound Investment Subcommittee
Legislative and Administrative Developments Subcommittee
Tax Treaties Subcommittee
Transfer Pricing Subcommittee
Working Group on Consumption Taxes
Working Group on the Digital Economy
Working Group on Environment and Energy Taxes
Working Group on Financial Services Issues
Working Group on Permanent Establishment Issues
This annual conference provides a unique opportunity for the U.S. business community to interact with key representatives from the OECD Centre for Tax Policy and Administration to discuss the latest developments in international taxation. At last year’s conference, Kevin Hassett, Chairman of The Council of Economic Advisors, delivered keynote remarks. Other senior tax officials from the U.S. and other key countries involved in the OECD’s international tax work participated on panels covering the latest developments in the taxation of multinational enterprises including tax treaties, transfer pricing, the work of the Task Force on the Digital Economy, dispute resolution and more.
For more information, please contact Erin Breitenbucher (202-682-7465 or firstname.lastname@example.org).
For information on how to become a sponsor, please contact Abby Shapiro (617-515-8492 or email@example.com).
Business at OECD welcomed the OECD/G20 policy note on January 31 titled, Addressing the Tax Challenges of the Digitalization of the Economy, which was approved by the Inclusive Framework (IF) on Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS), reaffirming commitment to a multilateral solution to addressing the tax challenges of the digitization of the economy.
According to Business at OECD, this initiative will impact all businesses and is of critical importance to the integrity of the international tax system. The OECD Inclusive Framework can reach international consensus in this area, and Business at OECD is committed to engaging a diverse and effective business network in the consultative process going forward.
“Broad consensus on measures for taxation of the digitizing economy is crucial to ensure innovation, growth, and stem instances of double taxation,” stated Will Morris, chair, Business at OECD Committee on Taxation and Fiscal Policy. “In this context, measures should also enable tax administrations to collect revenue needed for essential and efficient governmental functions.”
“The OECD is the appropriate forum to have a discussion about changes to the international tax system,” emphasized USCIB Vice President for Tax Policy Carol Doran Klein. “Countries should forego unilateral changes while that consensus develops.”
On January 21 Business at OECD released 11 foundational principles for international tax measures in the digital age.
Carol Doran Klein, USCIB vice president and international tax counsel, was featured in a new report by Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP “Four Big Questions on U.S. Tax Reforms,” which assesses the implications of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
Doran Klein weighed in by providing her perspective on the future of BEAT (Base-Erosion and Anti-Abuse Tax), an anti-avoidance measure that targets multinational groups with a significant U.S. presence, effectively applying a 10 percent minimum tax for taxable income adjusted for certain types of payments made by U.S. corporations to related non-U.S. corporations.
In her interview for the report, Doran Klein noted that the BEAT does not respect the arm’s length standard for transfer pricing, which is the internationally accepted principle in the OECD Model Tax Convention (the guidance underpinning the bilateral tax treaties of OECD members), or advance pricing agreements (APAs).
“One might argue that BEAT would violate existing principles because it doesn’t matter whether you have an APA or whether the payment is otherwise considered to be arm’s length, BEAT would effectively disallow a share of the deduction,” said Doran Klein. “However, the U.S. government could argue that it’s no longer clear whether the international accepted standard should take into account the arm’s length nature of the payments because Action 4 of the BEPS Action Plan concerning limitations on the deductibility of interest payments doesn’t actually rely on the arm’s length principle.”
Highlighting Key Activities, September, October, November 2018
During the months of September, October, and November 2018, USCIB Staff met with Alan Wolff, WTO Deputy Director General, Andrew Haviland, Charge d’Affaires, U.S. Mission to the OECD Katherine Tai, House Ways and Means, Nasim Fussell, Senate Finance, Christina Kopitopolous, USTR, submitted significant comments for the National Trade Estimate/1377 Report and on China’s WTO Compliance, launched a new Anti-Illicit Trade Committee, weighed in on the proposed European Digital Services Tax across Europe, and much more. Below are summaries of these and other highlights from the activities of USCIB in Washington, D.C. over the last three months. If you have any questions or comments, or want more information on a specific topic, please contact any of the staff members listed at the end of this brief.
Table of Contents:
USCIB Trade and Investment Committee Meets with Katherine Tai, Ways & Means: At the September 13 meeting of the USCIB Trade and Investment Committee Katherine Tai, Chief Trade Counsel, Democratic Staff, House Committee on Ways and Means, provided an off-the-record overview of where things stand in the House on NAFTA, 232 tariffs, 301 tariffs and China trade issues more broadly, the WTO, and other potential trade agreements. The Committee was also joined by Nasim Fussell, Deputy Chief International Trade Counsel for the Senate Finance Committee. Nasim provided the Senate’s perspective on NAFTA negotiations timing, 232 and 301 tariff issues, the second phase of the MTB process, and the WTO. At the meeting, Rob Mulligan also began a discussion on the development of a USCIB Trade and Investment Agenda for 2019, as well as a draft paper on WTO reform.
WTO Deputy DG Alan Wolff Meets with USCIB Members: On October 19, 2018, Ambassador Alan Wolff, Deputy Director General of the WTO, met informally with USCIB member companies to review the full range of issues, developments and challenges around the World Trade Organization. Amb. Wolff, an active member of USCIB’s Trade and Investment Committee in his days as a leading Washington trade lawyer, was, as always insightful, relevant, and candid in his remarks. Issues discussed included WTO reform, China’s role in the WTO, the impact of US Government approaches to the WTO, and possibilities for negotiation breakthroughs.
USCIB Submits Comments on China 301 Tariffs and Testifies: On September 6, 2018, USCIB submitted extensive comments on the Trump administration’s proposed $200 billion list of tariffs on imports from China, following up on earlier submissions in response to the quickly escalating trade conflict between the United States and China. USCIB and its members continue to be very concerned about the potential unintended consequences these proposed tariffs of 10 or 25 percent on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports are likely to have, affecting many sectors vital to the U.S. economy and jobs. While China’s forced technology transfer requirements and other abusive practices harm U.S. competitiveness, the administration’s sweeping tariffs endanger the U.S. economy in similar ways. USCIB also signed on to a broader industry statement appealing to the Trump administration not to proceed with the proposed tariffs, saying the effort would likely backfire against U.S. businesses and workers. At the end of August, USCIB Senior Director for Investment, Trade and Financial Services Eva Hampl provided testimony to the 301 Committee chaired by the U.S. Trade Representative’s office, expressing member concerns.
Members Meet with Andrew Haviland, Charge d’Affaires, U.S. Mission to the OECD: On October 11, 2018, Andrew Haviland, Charge d’Affaire, U.S. Mission to the OECD, met with a large group of USCIB member representatives from various committees. Following an update on the OECD’s ongoing work and U.S. priorities from Mr. Haviland, members were able to ask questions regarding the positions and work of the U.S. Mission, as well as the role of Business at OECD when engaging with the OECD and other OECD members on business priorities.
USCIB Advocates for Digital Trade and Foreign Investment at OECD: USCIB Senior Director for Investment, Trade and Financial Services Eva Hampl was in Paris the week of October 22, 2018, participating in investment and trade related meetings at the OECD. On October 22, the OECD hosted its annual Global Forum on Trade, which focused on Trade in the Digital Era. The agenda included sessions on digital transformation and what it means for trade, measuring digital trade, digital trade and market openness, data flows, and discussing priorities for trade policy makers. Hampl participated in the event as a panelist in the session on data flows, which also included Deputy Assistant USTR for Telecommunications Policy Jonathan McHale. The following day Hampl has several speaking roles starting with the Business at OECD consultation with the OECD Investment Committee. Business at OECD had submitted three short papers covering issues such as investment policies related to national security, the importance of a well-designed investment protection mechanism and foreign direct investment qualities. Hampl also attended a joint meeting of the OECD Trade and Investment Committees, which included a presentation on the OECD Digital Services Trade Restrictiveness Index (STRI) by the OECD. At the consultation, Hampl made an official intervention on behalf of Business at OECD, expressing USCIB’s support of the joint meeting, and raising some of USCIB’s priority issues, including the multilateral trading system (WTO reform), state-owned enterprises, and digital trade. Additionally, Hampl served as a discussant on behalf of Business at OECD at a Policy Network Meeting on the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) Qualities, during which she expressed general support for the project and underlined the importance of investment. Hampl also had the opportunity to underline the importance of an open investment environment and concern that recent trends of protectionist policies are harmful to business during her role as discussant in the First Roundtable on Investment and Sustainable Development.
Donnelly on Front Lines at UNCTAD Defending Pro-Investment Policies and ISDS: Shaun Donnelly was one of only three hearty business reps to spend part or all of the week of October 22-26, 2018, in Geneva at the World Investment Forum (WIF), hosted by the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD. Shaun was the keynote speaker for business in the important High-Level Experts group meeting on International Investment Agreements (IIAs) where he forcefully defended strong investment agreements and Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provisions. His remarks can be read here. He also was the single business panelist on a side event organized by the World Bank affiliate International center for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) on proposed reforms of ICSID’s rules and procedures. Shaun was also able to offer sharp question and criticisms of the EU’s much-ballyhooed Multilateral Investment Court proposal as a proposed but deeply flawed alternative to ISDS. Not clear how may converts Shaun might have made among developing country officials but he was able to give them some alternative perspectives on important and challenging investment policy issues. The UNCTAD Secretariat expressed great appreciation for USCIB attending and offering clear, candid business perspectives.
USCIB Consults with U.S. Investment Policy Leaders: Shaun Donnelly and Eva Hampl have stayed in close contact with key investment policy officials at State and USTR over the fall season. They met September 20 with Deputy Assistant USTR for Investment policy Lauren Mandell to NAFTA and Korea KORUS investment negotiations. Shaun and Eva met twice this fall with State department Office of Investment Affairs (“OIA” in State’s Economic and Business Bureau) leading up to and then following up afterwards on the mid October OECD investment Committee meetings as well as other international investment policy issues including the review of Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provisions underway in the UN Commission on International Trae Law (UNCITRAL). Those senior investment policy officials have been consistently open to our views and questions.
USCIB Discusses Anti-Corruption Issues with State Department: On October 2, 2018, USCIB joined a group of business associations as well as the AFL-CIO and Coalition for Integrity in a meeting with Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs Brian McFeeters to discuss our efforts in expanding the signatories to the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention to all G20 countries. The meeting was a follow up to a joint letter sent to president Trump in August, requesting that the Administration take major steps this year to combat international bribery and corruption. The message of the group was to underline the importance of the Convention, noting that it needed to be strengthened in two ways. First, though enforcement of the Convention in some countries has been gradually increasing, the overall level of enforcement is not uniform and is weaker than by the United States. Second, countries that have become major players in the international economy, notably China and India, are not signatories.
Hampl Discusses OECD Accession at PhRMA Meeting: On November 1, 2018, Eva Hampl, Senior Director, Investment, Trade and Financial Services, presented on OECD accession issues to a group of pharmaceutical companies and associations. Hampl highlighted USCIB’s advocacy role at the OECD as a member of Business at OECD, provided an update on the recently concluded accession process of Colombia, as well as on upcoming countries, which include Brazil, Argentina, Peru, Romania, Bulgaria, and Croatia. At this time, none of the six countries have officially been invited to begin the accession process, which will require the approval of 25 OECD Committees. USCIB has been actively involved in providing input into Colombia’s accession process via Business at OECD (BIAC), the official business voice at the OECD. Moving forward, USCIB will play an active role in providing U.S. business input to the OECD on any upcoming accession processes.
Donnelly Keynotes AmCham Annual Dinner in Vancouver: USCIB Vice President Shaun Donnelly was the keynote speaker at AmCham Canada /Pacific’s first-ever annual dinner in Vancouver October 16. Donnelly offered an inside-the-beltway business perspective on the long-running NAFTA modernization negotiations and the resultant new “U.S. /Mexico /Canada” agreement or USMCA. Canadian business leaders in the vibrant new Vancouver AmCham are generally supportive of NAFTA and hopeful about the new USMCA, though clearly worried about the “section 232” U.S. tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum. Former Canadian Trade Minister Stockwell Day, now a leading Vancouver-based trade lawyer joined Shaun in a post dinner Q and A session to round out the evening. While in Vancouver, Shaun was also guest of honor at a reception hosted by the U.S. Consul General where he delivered an abbreviated, informal version of his NAFTA/USMCA comments.
USMCA Investment Provisions Under the Microscope at Sidley: Shaun Donnelly was the business speaker, joining senior Canadian and Mexican Government investment negotiators on an off-the-record panel co-hosted by USCIB member law firm Sidley Austin and the American Society of International Law (ASIL) on October 18. The panel “USMCA – What Does NAFTA 2.0 Mean for Investor Protection in North America and Beyond?” drew a full house of trade people, diplomats, and lawyers. Sidley Partner Marinn Carlson moderated the session and kept it moving with some very challenging questions. Shaun was candid in pointing out USCIB and more general business concerns with some of the changes in investment provisions from NAFTA to USMCA. The U.S. government declined invitations to participate.
USCIB Talks Trade and Essential Security at Hudson Roundtable: Shaun Donnelly was an active participant in a very interesting Hudson Institute roundtable discussion November 28, focused on trade and national security, more specifically on the U.S. Government’s use of “Section 232” trade sanctions (thus far imposed on imported steel and aluminum but threats on imported autos are intensifying) based on threats to U.S. “essential security.” Senator (and former USTR where Shaun was a key Assistant) Rob Portman and EU Ambassador David O’Sullivan offered great keynote remarks. Shaun reflected USCIB’s strong positions on opposing any abuse (by the U.S. government or others) of these essential security provisions in the WTO, other agreements or in U.S. trade law. The group also discussed prospects for U.S.-EU trade agreement, perhaps limited to industrial good or perhaps much broader. Views on prospects for such agreements ranged widely around the table. Drawing on his experience as Assistant USTR for Europe under USTRs Portman and Schwab, Shaun was among the more cautious commentators on prospects for quick, easy U.S.-EU deals.
USCIB Members Engage U.S. Government Officials in Discussions about Policies Related to Artificial Intelligence, Privacy, Cybersecurity at the OECD, G20/B20, and ITU Plenipotentiary Meeting: The ICT Policy Committee Meeting on September 27 featured discussions with U.S. Government officials from the Departments of State, Commerce, and the White House Office of Science and Technology. The wide-ranging dialogue focused on policy priorities with respect to Artificial Intelligence (AI) in work underway at the OECD Committee on Digital Economy Policy as well as the horizontal OECD Going Digital Project. Members also discussed their inputs to the B20 Digital Economy and Industry 4.0 Task Force Report and how those would be reflected in the October 4-5 Summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Concerning the request for comments on Consumer Privacy Protections by the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), members emphasized the importance of realizing greater interoperability in global privacy regulations. Finally, members discussed the importance of coordinating with Inter-American countries at the ITU Plenipotentiary, October 29-November 16 in Dubai, UAE on issues pertaining to governance of the ITU, Internet-related issues, and cybersecurity.
USCIB Catalogs 90 Pages of Foreign Trade Barriers for Annual National Trade Estimate/Section 1377 Report to USTR: On October 17, USCIB submitted comments concerning significant barriers to U.S. exports of goods, services, and U.S. foreign direct investment for inclusion in the annual National Trade Estimate (NTE) report. Pursuant to Section 1377 of the Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act of 1998 (19 U.S. C. Section 3106) and as requested by USTR’s Federal Register notice, we also included comments concerning the operation and effectiveness of U.S. telecommunications trade agreements. This 90-page catalog details foreign trade barriers to U.S. exports to the following countries: Argentina, Australia, Belarus, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, European Union, Fiji, France, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Gulf Cooperation Council, India, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Korea, Latin America Malaysia, Mexico, Middle East and North Africa, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, Sweden, Tanzania, Thailand, Tonga, Turkey, Uganda, the United Kingdom, Uruguay, and Vietnam.
USCIB Members Continue to Advocate for GDPR-Compliant Policy Framework and Data Access at ICANN 63: ICANN 63’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) wrapped up on October 25 in Barcelona, Spain. Barbara Wanner, USCIB Vice President for ICT Policy, and members from AT&T, Amazon, BT, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, The Walt Disney Company, Time Warner, Verisign, and Verizon joined some 3,000 stakeholders to address key issues in management of the domain name system. In particular, USCIB members actively contributed to work underway to develop a formal policy to ensure that ICANN and the industry of more than 1,000 generic top-level domain (gTLD) registries and registrars meet existing ICANN contractual requirements concerning the collection of registration data as well as comply with the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). ICANN’s proposed Draft Framework for a Possible Unified Access Model for Continued Access to Full WHOIS Data (UAM) also was in the spotlight. Under pressure from ICANN’s Business Constituency and Intellectual Property Constituency – both of which include USCIB members — governments, and other stakeholders, ICANN developed the UAM as a possible approach to enable third-party access to non-public WHOIS data for legitimate law enforcement, consumer protection, brand management, and intellectual property (IP) protection purposes. Wanner serves on the Business Constituency’s Executive Committee.
USCIB Urges the Administration to Pursue Greater Interoperability Among Global Privacy Regimes: On November 8, USCIB responded to a request for comments on Approaches to Consumer Privacy from the Commerce Departments National Telecommunication and Information Administration (NTIA). USCIB members supported the administration’s high-level goal to develop mechanisms that realize greater interoperability among international privacy regimes. Specifically, members applauded NTIA for recognizing the need to bridge regulatory differences so there is less fragmentation, data flows seamlessly, and the digital economy continues to evolve. In pursuing development of an interoperable approach, however, it is imperative that we realize an appropriate balance so that privacy frameworks promote consumer/user trust in data-driven technologies while at the same time enabling companies and organizations to use and transfer data in innovative ways that benefit society, USCIB members urged.
USCIB Members Push Back on Top-Down Cybersecurity-Related Regulation, Advocate a Risk-Based Approach in IGF Workshop: French President Emmanuel Macron opened the three-day IGF on November 12 at UNESCO, depicting a digital economy fraught with danger from cyber-attacks, the proliferation of hate speech, and anti-democratic forces. He urged development of a “better model” featuring regulation of the Internet and its actors. USCIB members pushed back on this top-down approach in a special security-focused workshop on November 14, “Approaches to a Wicked Problem: Stakeholders Promote Enhanced Cooperation and Collaborative, Risk-Based Frameworks of Regional and National Cybersecurity Initiatives,” co-organized by USCIB and Oxford Martin School. The overall aim of the workshop was to provide insights into how to build national and regional cybersecurity capacity that is risk-based to enable nimble responses to security challenges. USCIB members Claudia Selli (AT&T) served as moderator and Amanda Craig (Microsoft) contributed expert commentary, emphasizing that a risk-based, whole of government approach is most effective and necessary for development of a national cybersecurity strategy.
OECD’s CDEP Moves Going Digital Project Toward Completion, Advances AI Work: The November 14-16 meetings of the OECD’s Committee on Digital Economy Policy (CDEP) focused on advancing the OECD’s Going Digital project, showcasing the OECD’s analytical report on Artificial Intelligence as well as the work of a special AI Experts Group (AIGO), and featuring an intense and animated review of the Online Platforms Report and a Roundtable discussion on online platforms. Working under the aegis of Business at OECD (BIAC), USCIB members have been shaping development of the Going Digital Project for the past two years, offering insightful guidance on the project’s all-important Integrated Policy Framework. USCIB members from Facebook, Google, IBM, and Microsoft also are playing influential roles in the AI Experts Group to ensure that the group’s eventual policy recommendations align with USCIB members’ interests. The final outcomes of the Going Digital Project will be unveiled at a high-level summit on March 11-12, 2019 in Paris.
USCIB Members Uphold Multistakeholder Model for Internet Governance in Comments to UN High Level Panel on Digital Cooperation: At a time when the multistakeholder approach to Internet governance increasingly is under fire in some multilateral organizations, USCIB members underscored that the multistakeholder model continues to be the best method to enable whole-of-society/whole-of-government consideration of digital economy issues. This will continue to ensure that discussions are grounded in values of free speech and respect for human rights and the principles of transparency, accountability, and consensus will guide stakeholders, according to USCIB. On November 30, USCIB included these comments in its submission to the U.N. High-Level Panel on Digital Cooperation (HLPDC) aimed at informing the HLPDC’s deliberations. The HLPDC was established by the UN Secretary-General in July 2018 to advance proposals to strengthen cooperation in the digital realm and contribute to the broader global dialogue on how interdisciplinary and cooperative approaches can help ensure a safe and inclusive digital future.
USCIB Continues Efforts to Oppose the Adoption of the Draft Directive on Digital Services Tax: USCIB further engaged with the OECD and various European countries on the tax challenges of the digitalizing economy and the European Digital Services Tax. The OECD organized a “digital day” in Paris to further discuss business models and the direction of the OECD’s work on a long-term solution. Many USCIB members participated in this discussion. USCIB members have also met with this fall with a number of high-level European government officials to discuss the EU digital directives. These included meetings with Austria, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. We have also engaged with business representatives at our peer organizations in other countries. We are encouraging those organizations to continue to work with their governments to ensure continuing opposition to the DST. We have also had ongoing discussions with the U.S. Treasury and the Senate Joint Economic Committee, including participating in a panel organized by the JEC to brief Hill staff on the issues and concerns of U.S. business.
USCIB will be continuing to pursue opportunities to express our concerns and ensure that any changes to the standards applicable to taxation of the digitalized economy reflect the concerns of U.S. business. While many countries have objected to the draft directives and the EU requires unanimity to proceed, it is important that USCIB continue to make its case about the potential damage from these directives. The OECD is working on a long-term solution. Many countries expressed a willingness to work within the OECD to achieve a long-term solution. USCIB also supports a consensus approach and believes that the OECD is the best place for working on such a consensus. The EU will be holding an Ecofin meeting on December 4th to consider this issue again (agreement was not reached at the Ecofin meeting held on November 6th). If agreement is not reached on December 4th, that will likely give the OECD some space to work on a long-term solution, since agreement on the EU directive is less likely in 2019 for a variety of political reasons.
USCIB Submits Comment Letters to Regulators: The Tax Committee dedicated significant resources to providing comments on a variety of topics. (See the recent accomplishments section of the USCIB Tax Committee page.) These comments included letters on: proposed regulations concerning the repatriation tax under section 965; proposed regulations concerning Global Intangible Low-Taxed Income under section 951A; the Platform for Collaboration on Tax’s toolkit on Offshore Indirect Transfers; and the OECD’s consultation on Financial Transactions.
USCIB Participates as an Observer in the UN’s Committee of Tax Experts: The UN Committee of Tax Experts held its seventeenth session in Geneva from October 16th through the 19th. The agenda covered updates to the UN Manual on Transfer Pricing; updates to the UN Model Income Tax Treaty (including, the taxation of software royalties, and the taxation of CIVs); development of a handbook on dispute avoidance and resolution; environmental tax issues; updates to the Extractives Handbook; the tax consequences of the digitalizing economy; updates to the manual on treaty negotiation; capacity building; and the taxation of development projects. The background papers presented and discussed at the meeting are here. USCIB is providing input on areas of interest to the USCIB Tax Committee including: the taxation of the digitalizing economy, the taxation of software royalties and taxation of carbon.
USCIB Customs E-Commerce Sub-Committee Meets for First Time: On Thursday, October 18, 2018, members of the USCIB Customs and Trade Facilitation Committee met under the auspices of a new, USCIB Customs E-Commerce Sub-Committee. The Sub-Committee will focus on customs related e-commerce issues and serve as a way to screen and discuss e-commerce issues informally before bringing problems and recommendations to the broader Customs and Trade Facilitation Committee. If you are interested in participating in this group, please let Megan Giblin know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Customs Committee Meets with Christina Kopitopolous, USTR, Ken Kennedy, DHS ICE: On Wednesday, November 28, 2018, the USCIB Customs and Trade Facilitation Committee received an update on Forced Labor issues from Ken Kennedy, Senior Policy Advisor for Forced Labor Programs at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Immigration & Customs Enforcement. Following this discussion, the Committee heard from Christina Kopitoplolous, USTR Director for Customs and Trade Affairs. Christina provided her assessment of customs issues at the WCO, WTO, and domestically.
USCIB Launches Anti-Illicit Trade Committee, David Luna as Chair: On Tuesday, September 11, USCIB held the inaugural meeting of its new Anti-Illicit Trade Committee, chaired by David Luna of Luna Global Networks & Convergence Strategies, LLC. In addition to laying out the committee’s goals and the beginnings of a Plan of Action, the committee heard the latest on Anti-Illicit Trade work at the OECD from the OECD’s Stephanie Jacobzone, Jack Radisch, and Piotr Stryszowski. The Committee met again on Thursday, November 29. At the November meeting, members heard from Christa Brzozowski, DHS Deputy Assistant Secretary, Trade and Transport, for an update on Anti-Illicit Trade work at the OECD. Following this briefing, members heard from Steven Shapiro, FBI Unit Chief, Criminal Investigative Division, Intellectual Property Rights Unit, National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center. Steven provided an overview of his team’s work at the IPR Center and expressed his interest in additional engagement with the USCIB Anti-Illicit Trade Committee.
USCIB Submits Comments on China’s WTO Commitments and Testifies: As part of the annual request by the U.S. Trade Representative for comments on China’s compliance with World Trade Organization (WTO) commitments and notice of public hearing, USCIB submitted commentson September 21 reflecting USCIB members’ feedback and concerns. USCIB’s submission highlights concerns that arise in selected horizontal areas that transcend industry sectors, including IT security measures, China’s antimonopoly law, intellectual property rights, market access, national treatment and non-discrimination, the regulatory environment, standards, state-owned enterprises, customs and trade facilitation, taxation, labor laws, certification, licensing, and testing barriers. USCIB’s submission also addresses issues related to specific industry sectors that face problems in China, including agricultural biotechnology, audiovisual, chemicals, electronic payment access, express delivery services, recoverable materials, software, and telecommunications. Following USCIB’s submission, USCIB Senior Director for Investment, Trade and Financial Services Eva Hampl provided testimony on October 3 to the interagency Trade Policy Staff Committee (TPSC).
USCIB Meets with DOJ and FTC to Discuss China AML Issues: In a follow up to USCIB’s submission on China’s compliance with WTO Commitments, USCIB on November 19 met with officials from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) as well as the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to discuss current issues business faces in China in relation to the application of China’s anti-monopoly law (AML). As noted in USCIB’s public comments, Chinese antitrust enforcement authorities continue to use of the AML as a tool to advance industrial policy goals rather than to protect competition. U.S. companies have repeatedly experienced Chinese regulators using AML enforcement absent sufficient economic proof of market power or anti-competitive harm or any transparency regarding analyses that may have been conducted. In addition, anecdotal evidence indicates that the AML enforcement agencies often disregard basic norms of fairness, due process, and transparency.
USCIB Holds Joint ICC/USCIB Meeting on Global Competition Policy in NY: On September 5, against the backdrop of fast-changing business and policy practices with respect to antitrust and consumer protection, the USCIB Competition Committee held a joint meeting with the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) Competition Commission in New York. Participants in the joint ICC/USCIB meeting represented many jurisdictions, including Brazil, France, Germany, Mexico, Poland, the United Kingdom and the United States. The keynote speaker was Bruce Hoffman, director of the Bureau of Competition at the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Hoffman discussed the latest developments of antitrust policy with USCIB members, including for competition policy litigation and enforcement in the U.S., as well as FTC hearings on the state of competition law and policy that began in Washington, D.C. in September. USCIB Competition Committee Chair Dina Kallay (Ericsson) and USCIB Competition Committee Vice Chair Jennifer Patterson(Arnold & Porter) led participants through an agenda that included updates on issues including mergers, due process, cartels, the International Competition Network (ICN), and the Multilateral Framework on Procedures, on which USCIB and ICC recently submitted a joint statement.
USCIB Policy and Program Staff
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The German business association BDI hosted the OECD, Business at OECD, USCIB and other business representatives at a joint conference in Berlin, Germany on November 6 to contribute to the current debate on digital taxation. The OECD is the leading organization in developing a consensus approach to this debate.
Leading global tax experts discussed current business models and value creation, profit allocation and nexus rules, and future challenges of profit taxation. Among them was USCIB Taxation Committee Chair Bill Sample (Microsoft Corporation) who gave a keynote on a panel, “Future Challenges of Profit Taxation.”
Sample spoke about a “borderless world,” with borderless businesses and borderless consumers, which increases the need for governments to work together to reduce the negative impact of hard borders on the digitalized economy.
The event, titled International Taxation in Light of Digitalization, also featured participation by OECD Deputy Secretary General Ludger Shucknecht and Director for the OECD Center for Tax Policy and Administration Pascal Saint-Amans, as well as Head of the International Tax Unit at the German Federal Ministry of Finance Christian Schleithoff.
Following the United Kingdom’s plan to impose a new tax on sales by many technology companies, U.S. business groups, including USCIB, fired back warning that the proposal would violate tax agreements by targeting U.S. firms. The proposal includes a 2% tax on sales by large social media platforms, internet marketplaces and search engines from April 2020.
BBC reported on this development and highlighted comments by U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who according to BBC, voiced strong concern about different countries’ efforts to develop digital sales tax. “This tax is a proportionate and targeted interim response that reflects the changing global economy, and how digital businesses derive value from users – it’s not targeted at any country and seeks to ensure the tax system is fair,” said Mnuchin.
USCIB submitted a letter to EU Commissioner Pierre Moscovici in July in response to a proposed EU directive urging the directive not to be adopted.
“The directives reflect a lack of understanding of current and evolving business models and would distort the allocation of revenue or income to functions that do not accurately reflect value creation by the companies earning the revenue or income,” stated USCIB’s letter.
“USCIB supports a consensus-based comprehensive income-tax-based solution applied equally to agreed upon issues in segments of the digitalized economy,” added USCIB Vice President for Tax Policy Carol Doran Klein. “There is agreement that the global economy, businesses and the public sector are digitalizing. Therefore, any solution to agreed upon issues (if any) must apply to the economy broadly, not to narrow segments of the economy. Any solution must also be broadly agreed to by countries to minimize double taxation and controversy, therefore the G20-OECD Inclusive framework is the best forum for this discussion. The EU itself recognizes the importance of a multilateral approach.”
On November 29, shortly after a consequential U.S. midterm election, Bloomberg Tax will host its premier event for corporate tax and finance leaders. USCIB Vice President for Tax Policy Carol Doran Klein will moderate one of the sessions.
The Bloomberg Tax Leadership Forum will provide unique insights into the impact of the election results as well as the most current developments from the 2017 U.S. tax law affecting your organization’s tax planning.
Reserve your seat now as government policy makers, corporate tax leaders, and leading advisers present and discuss the critical issues of the day. Topics to be covered will include:
Months after the signing into law of the most fundamental tax reform in the U.S. in over 30 years, the annual OECD International Tax Conference, organized by USCIB in cooperation with the OECD and Business at OECD, convened earlier this week in Washington, D.C. to assess the impact of the new law on U.S. multinational companies, reforms in other countries, as well as on cross-border trade and investment.
Some speakers, such as Louise Weingrod (Johnson & Johnson) spoke of the generally positive environment that has resulted from the new tax law, such as a more level-playing field for MNCs and increases in capital investment by U.S. companies. Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers Kevin Hassett, who gave keynote remarks during the conference, stated that tax reform has been spurring growth and that U.S. reform will spur additional reform in other countries. He also said that reducing the corporate tax rate to 21 percent would have been enough but that the Trump administration tackled some of the other issues too, which has had the desired effect on margins.
“U.S. tax reform is but one piece of an increasingly complex puzzle of changing global tax rules that companies must navigate,” said USCIB President and CEO Peter M. Robinson. “As technology, business models and supply chains have evolved, it is more critical than ever to bring certainty to international tax rules, in order to promote global growth and avoid double taxation. The conference provided an unparalleled opportunity to learn about, and influence, the latest developments in the global taxation system.”
While U.S. tax reform was a contentious issue at the conference, other policy matters were also raised, specifically those related to transfer pricing, dealing with tax-related disputes through arbitration, implementation of the OECD’s multilateral instrument, development with regards to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, as well as tax challenges arising from digitalization.
Bill Sample (Microsoft), who is the vice chair of the Business at OECD Taxation and Fiscal Policy Committee and chairs the USCIB Tax Committee, reflected on the key issues for the business community that need to be addressed to get to a G20-mandated, consensus-based solution by 2020 with regards to digitalization. “Business recognizes the political pressure to reach consensus. But for business to be fully engaged, whatever the consensus is, it will need to bear a rational relationship to value creation,” he emphasized.
The sold-out conference, which was held June 4-5 gathered over 300 tax experts, academics and business representatives to interact directly with key leadership from the OECD, its Center for Tax Policy and Administration (CTFA), and senior tax officials from the U.S. and other OECD countries, including Canada, France and Germany. The conference has grown into an annual must-attend event for tax practitioners, experts and regulators from around the world.