USCIB Member HP Presents at WTO Symposium on Information Technology Agreement

The World Trade Organization (WTO) hosted a two-day workshop in mid-September celebrating trade liberalization under the Information Technology Agreement titled “ITA Symposium: 25th Anniversary of the Information Technology Agreement.” WTO Director General Dr. Ngozi Okojo-Iweala opened the conference, which explored the benefits of ICT in combatting COVID-19 and bridging the digital divide, as well as the latest advances in technology and justifications for a new, third, round of ITA expansion.

Given the topic of the Symposium, USCIB was pleased to secure a speaking role for member company HP, Inc. Karen Bland, HP’s Head of Global Trade, presented on “3D Printing: A Vital Technology for Economic Development and Sustainability,” where she outlined the economic benefits of 3D printing, as well as the innovative technology’s contributions to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs). Additionally, HP highlighted how it leveraged 3D printing to address extreme supply chain disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic by partnering with more than ninety-two global digital manufacturing companies to deliver millions of 3D printed items including CPAP components, nasal swabs and face shields.

“The ITA must keep pace with technological advances in ICT.  HP encourages coverage of 3D printers and parts as a critical printing innovation in any future ITA expansion,” commented Bland.

USCIB is part of an industry coalition led by the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) working with the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative to advance a new expansion of the ITA (ITA-3).  During the conference SIA President John Neuffer addressed “How a Third ITA Expansion Would Benefit Developed and Developing Nations Alike While Advancing Climate, Health, and Sustainability Goals,” with Stephen Ezell from the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation releasing a comprehensive report on How an Information Technology Agreement 3.0 Would Bolster Economic Growth and Opportunity, including a focus on potential benefits to developing countries. The report includes a list of products proposed to be included in an ITA 3, including many submissions from USCIB members.

“USCIB supports ITA expansion, increased geographic participation, and further efforts to provide duty free treatment to critical ICT products which have become more important in the COVID environment,” said USCIB Director, Investment, Trade and China Alice Slayton Clark. Clark is leading the ITA expansion effort at USCIB, with USCIB Director, Customs and Trade Facilitation Megan Giblin as customs advisor.

USCIB Comments on China’s Compliance With Its WTO Commitments

USCIB submitted comments September 15 in response to the U.S. Trade Representatives request for input into China’s compliance with its World Trade Organization (WTO) commitments. The comments covered a wide variety of topics with a focus on intellectual property enforcement, regulation, transparency and standards.

According to USCIB Director for Investment, Trade and China Alice Slayton Clark, USCIB members have significant concerns regarding China’s fulfillment of its WTO obligations in a variety of sectors but also regarding unilateral restrictions and bilateral commitments, like the Phase One trade agreement, that remain unfulfilled.

USCIB members also remain concerned about U.S. tariffs and retaliatory measures imposed as a result of the U.S. Section 301 investigation into China’s forced technology transfer, intellectual property, and innovation policies. The submission stated: While the Phase One deal partially addresses some of these tariffs, much more must be done to restore the ability of U.S. business to compete effectively in the global marketplace. It is essential that the United States develop a robust strategy that does not only rely on the use of punitive tariffs to achieve its objectives with China. Tariffs alone have not changed China’s economic policies to date and, ultimately, tariffs also increase costs for U.S. consumers and businesses.

USCIB urges 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. Plurilateral dialogues that include U.S.-friendly jurisdictions such as the European Union, Canada or Australia should also be considered.

“China’s importance in the global economy creates a strong incentive to find ways to promote U.S. interests in a rules-based international trading order; to work with allies to address common challenges with respect to China; and to work together with China to address our common challenges and responsibilities,” said Clark.

USCIB Makes Recommendations to Biden Administration on Negotiations of Investor-State Dispute Settlement

USCIB submitted a letter to officials in the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Trade Representative regarding ongoing negotiations on reform of Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) in the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) Working Group III.

“USCIB has been the lead private sector observer delegation throughout these negotiations and has long been a leading voice for the U.S. private sector on international investment policy issues,” said USCIB Director of Investment, Trade, and China Alice Slayton Clark. 

The letter emphasized several policy issues of concern to the U.S. business and industry community, including the European Union’s ill-conceived proposal to replace ISDS with a multilateral investment court, which the United States has opposed under successive Democratic and Republican administrations.

According to Clark, “we have seen almost no support for the court amongst U.S. stakeholders, including business, labor, and environmental groups.”

The letter also noted that UNCITRAL WG III is considering other “reforms” to ISDS that would be unfavorable to U.S. business. For example, some states have proposed that investors who own shares in a foreign company should be prohibited from seeking a remedy for damages to their investments if they do not control the company. Such an approach would leave U.S. investors entirely without a remedy in many cases, even where the law requires them to invest through a joint venture with local partners.

USCIB made three recommendations for the Biden Administration to consider:
• that the U.S. government continue to assign a high priority to the UNCITRAL WG III negotiations;
• that the U.S. government continue the practice of dialogue and cooperation with USCIB, the broader U.S. private sector, and other stakeholders; and
• that the U.S. government seek to include on the agenda for any upcoming high-level U.S.-EU meeting, a frank discussion of the EU’s multilateral investment court proposal and the UNCITRAL negotiations.

USCIB Meets With New OECD Secretary General Cormann on His First Official DC Visit

L-R: Kennedy, Robinson, SG Cormann, Johnston meet in the OECD Washington DC office in July 2021

USCIB members joined a first meeting and dialogue with OECD Secretary General Mathias Cormann, hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on July 21 in Washington DC. USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson, and Citi Managing Director and Business at OECD (BIAC) Chair Charles R. Johnston, led the discussion, along with USCIB Board Member and Executive Vice President for International Affairs at the Chamber Myron Brilliant.

As the U.S. affiliate of and representative to BIAC, the official business spokes-organization to the OECD, USCIB values and engages with OECD on a wide range of cross-cutting issues. In light of the U.S. chairmanship of this year’s OECD Ministerial Council Meeting on October 5–6 in Paris, the meeting offered USCIB Committee Chairs and other active member representatives the opportunity to highlight their priorities for OECD’s policy recommendations.

SG Cormann described his leadership priorities for OECD, which center around restoring economic growth and recovery, including through multilateral trade. He highlighted the thought leadership role of the OECD in G7 and G20 discussions of a global corporate minimum tax rate. He also discussed the potential for OECD to contribute to a possible similar global conversation on carbon pricing and carbon border adjustment. Other topics covered included responsible business conduct; tackling illicit trade; and innovation and digital economy.

In his closing remarks, Robinson stated, “Imagine what could be accomplished if all multilateral institutions followed the OECD’s consultative model to work with business and co-create solutions to urgent challenges!”

Robinson thanked Cormann, and said that USCIB and the American business community are dedicated to working with OECD through BIAC to show the way through and past the pandemic on fundamentals like regulatory coherence and combatting corruption, as well as on emerging technologies and issues.

USCIB Praises US Engagement But Urges More Ambitious WTO Negotiation on Services Domestic Regulations

USCIB submitted a letter to the Biden administration lauding its recent decision to engage in World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations to facilitate trade in services, but urging a more ambitious outcome.

A plurilateral negotiation involving sixty-four nations, the Joint Statement Initiative (JSI) on Services Domestic Regulations (SDR) seeks to streamline and make more transparent domestic regulations governing services covered under the 1995 WTO General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS). This would largely target rules that authorize the supply of services such as licensing and qualification requirements and procedures, as well as technical standards relating to trade.

The August 2 letter, co-signed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and National Foreign Trade Counsel, requests U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai to press like-minded nations to maximize the agreement’s potential by extending the proposed disciplines on regulations to a broader set of services sectors.

“While the JSI would be meaningful as currently considered, it would be far more beneficial to extend the disciplines beyond the sectors under GATS, which are uneven in coverage and out of date,” said USCIB Director for Investment, Trade and China Alice Slayton Clark.

Services trade comprises nearly half of global trade in value-added terms and has grown at twice the rate of merchandise trade over the past decade. Yet it costs double to trade in services compared to goods. According to the letter: “streamlining and updating regulatory regimes in the broadest array of services sectors will go far in correcting this inequity.” It would also contribute to global economic recovery, providing a boost to a sector disproportionately harmed by pandemic shutdowns and travel restrictions.

A copy of the letter is available here.

WTO and UN Host Global Dialogue on Trade and Food

USCIB Senior Vice President, Innovation, Regulation, and Trade Brian Lowry participated in an outreach event on July 6 convened by the World Trade Organization (WTO) Secretariat in collaboration with the United Nations Food Systems Summit.

The Global Dialogue on Trade; Trade, An Essential Piece of the of the Food Systems Puzzle was curated by Dr. David Nabarro and convened to encourage an informal dialogue and exchange of views amongst invited participants, representing a broad range of stakeholders from government, civil society, business, farmers, academia and more.

A high-level opening plenary with WTO Director General Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Special Envoy of the United Nations Food Systems Summit Dr. Alice Kalibata, was followed by discussions in ten breakout sessions amongst invited participants under Chatham House rules. Lowry participated in breakout discussion on Realizing the Human Right to Food, which was facilitated by Michael Fakhri, UN special rapporteur on the Right to Food. Other sessions focused on topics such as, international trade in food in times of crisis, global agricultural value chains, nutrition security, ensuring sustainable food trade and food safety.

According to Lowry, no reports or outcomes will emerge from the discussions in the breakout rooms. A high-level closing plenary presented in broad terms some of the subjects discussed in the breakout sessions and included closing remarks by WTO Deputy Director General Jean-Marie Paugam.

Wilmer’s Lauren Mandell Speaks for Business on FDI Screening

Lauren Mandell

The OECD’s Investment Promotion Agency (IPA) Network organized seminars on the important issue of Government screening of inward Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) June 17 and 18. Lauren Mandell, special counsel at USCIB member law firm WilmerHale, was the sole business speaker at the opening session; other speakers were government investment promotion officials, regulators, and OECD policy experts. Investment screening is a growing practice around the world in both OECD member nations, including the U.S., and in developing countries.

According to USCIB Senior Adviser Shaun Donnelly, USCIB and the Business at OECD (BIAC) coalition have long spoken out in support of open flows of FDI in all directions, believing FDI promotes economic growth, competition, and jobs. Some screening, as in the U.S., is focused on national security consideration but “national security” can be abused to justify protectionist or mercantilist policies by host governments. And some governments have investment screening which goes beyond national security factors to broad, vague standards of “national interest” or “competitive need” reviews which can easily be abused to discriminate against foreign investors.

“Lauren Mandell did a great job of delivering the business perspective on this important range of issues,” said Donnelly. “Drawing on his prior experience as a USTR investment policy negotiator and participant in the U.S. Government ‘CFIUS’ review process, as well as his broad private sector experience, Lauren was able to shape the overall debate and ensure balance in the discussions.”

Donnelly, a longtime investment expert and former U.S. government negotiator was also able to chime in from the audience to support Lauren’s messages and highlight long-running U.S. government concerns over the government of Canada’s broad “National Interest” reviews of inward investment proposals.

“Lauren Mandell did a great job in getting the business perspective and concerns into this important debate at the OECD,” added Donnelly.  “It’s so important to have the private sector perspective included in these important policy sessions at the OECD and beyond. Lauren was able to bring real-world experience and credibility to very interesting panel discussion. We at USCIB are very grateful to BIAC for designating Lauren as a lead business speaker and, especially, to Lauren for making time to take on this speaking role.”

Brazil’s Accession to OECD: USCIB Hosts Discussion on Regulatory Good Practices

USCIB co-hosted a third meeting of the Brazil-OECD Business Policy Roundtable last week, gathering U.S. and Brazilian industry and government officials to discuss the advancement of regulatory good practices (RGPs) to facilitate Brazil’s accession to the OECD.

According to USCIB Director for Investment, Trade and China Alice Slayton Clark, Brazil is currently undertaking significant regulatory reform consistent with OECD guidelines, such as Recommendations of the Council on Regulatory Policy and Governance. Ministry of Economy Program Director Kelvia Frota de Albuquerque noted recent actions toward that end, including Decree 10,411 that makes regulatory impact analysis (RIA) mandatory for all significant regulations, which identifies the regulatory problem and assesses available alternatives to direct regulation. The decree was issued pursuant to the Regulatory Agencies Law and the Economic Free Law of 2019, coming into force with respect to the Ministry of Economy this past April, and will apply to other federal administrative bodies on October 14, 2021.

It is part of a whole-of-government effort to harmonize and streamline regulatory functions, according to Frota de Albuquerque. A restructuring of licensing and permitting throughout the country at the regional, municipal and local levels will require a significant cultural shift, high-level intervention from the Ministry of Economy and significant capacity building, data management, stakeholder engagement and ex-post analysis.

“Regulatory reform in Brazil is catalyzed not only by its quest for OECD accession but by regulatory commitments it will undertake when it ratifies the Protocol Relating to Trade Rules and Transparency signed in October 2020, updating the U.S.-Brazil Agreement on Trade and Economic Cooperation,” said Clark.

Deputy Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Latin America Courtney Smothers said that she hopes other workstreams will also inspire progress, including reforms advanced through the World Trade Organization (WTO) Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Committee, the U.S.-Brazil regulator-to-regulator dialogue, the Brazil-U.S. CEO forum and regional avenues, such as the Summit of the Americas.

Australia and Canada will be leading an OECD peer review of Brazil’s reform efforts, issuing recommendations next year for additional regulatory improvement, said Manuel Gerardo Flores Romero, coordinator of the OECD Regulatory Policy Programme in Latin America.

The Roundtable discussions are a private sector collaboration led by the USCIB, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Brazil-U.S. Business Council and the Brazil National Confederation of Industry (CNI). Additional roundtable discussions will be held throughout 2021, covering investment and trade, tax, environment and sustainable development, innovation and intellectual property. Digital issues were discussed at the March Roundtable earlier this year.

USCIB Welcomes Commitment by G7 to Inclusive Global Recovery

New York, N.Y., June 16, 2021—Following the G7 Leaders’ Summit in Cornwall, UK, the United States Council for International Business (USCIB) welcomes the G7’s resolute commitment in this time of crisis to a cooperative and inclusive global recovery built on democratic values, private sector partnership, open trade, investment and sustainability.

We are proud to embrace the G7’s enduring ideals of free open societies and democracies, and its support for inclusive multilateralism in action.

We agree that tackling root causes of human rights abuses and combatting failures of integrity and transparency are essential to any effort to build back better and importantly, to also provide the fullest possible access to healthcare and vaccines worldwide.

We are committed to eliminating forced labor and other human rights abuses from global supply chains, and to advance the uptake of the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. We applaud renewed attention on eradicating corruption as it erodes public trust in government, wastes resources and presents an obstacle to needed economic and social development and our shared vision of achieving the Paris Agreement and UN 2030 Goals.

We are inspired by USCIB members mobilizing to help meet the ongoing pandemic challenge. Vaccinating the world against COVID-19 is essential to economic recovery; this urgent task will require production, as well as widespread distribution and administration of vaccines. The private sector serves as an important partner in this endeavor and can assist with vaccine-deployment strategies based on efficiency and equity. A sustainable, durable solution will address a host of issues, including: re-distribution of excess vaccine supplies to countries that face shortages; removing regulatory and trade barriers to vaccine production and distribution; efficient supply chain operations; procurement challenges; the potential risks associated with counterfeit and illicit trade in medical goods; and addressing hesitancy and misinformation about vaccines. While more needs to be done, the U.S. and G7 support for COVAX and Act-A are big steps in the right direction. Through Business Partners to CONVINCE (BP2C), USCIB is advancing actionable workplace strategies for vaccine adoption while highlighting the vital role employers play in educating their employees on the facts about COVID-19 vaccines.

We believe that private sector innovation and its wide deployment, whether in healthcare solutions, digital access or climate change, will be fundamental to attain the ambitious targets and actions set out in the communique. The G7 has emphasized the need for urgent reform and revitalization at the World Trade Organization (WTO) and incentivizing innovation as key priorities in all of these areas. We couldn’t agree more.

We appreciate the G7’s ongoing dialogue and cooperation with business, and thank the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) for coordinating this year’s B7 process.

USCIB Supports New Public Education Initiative to Combat Black Market Trade

Washington D.C., June 08, 2021—USCIB joined United to Safeguard America from Illegal Trade (USA-IT) in launching a new public education initiative designed to provide local officials, law enforcement, and thought leaders with information and training programs to help tackle illegal trade and raise public awareness of the depth of the problem as well as the severe consequences inflicted on states and municipalities by black market profiteers.

The campaign will run through 2021 across eight states facing critical illegal trade issues: Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Texas.

The black market is a $509 billion a year business, and it’s growing. Criminals get rich from illegal trade by robbing revenues meant to provide essential services to Americans. Instead of helping taxpayers, that money is used to fund those who illegally traffic in drugs, weapons, and even people. These groups exploit governments and citizens, manipulate financial systems, spur corruption, and cultivate instability and violence that threaten our communities.

No one government or single industry can address this complex problem on its own. Tackling illegal trade requires cooperation and public-private partnerships and fully utilizing existing expertise, information sharing, innovative solutions, and evolving technologies. Public actors, the private sector, and civil society alike all have a role to play.

For more information about USA-IT’s efforts to combat illegal trade, and to get involved, visit USAIT.org.

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.

About USA-IT

United to Safeguard America from Illegal Trade (USA-IT) is a public and private sector partnership protecting Americans’ security and prosperity from black market criminals.

Contacts

Sam Dashiell
T. +1 (202) 480 1617
E. contact@USAIT.org

Kira Yevtukhova
T. +1 (202) 617 3160
E. kyevtukhova@uscib.org