During the months of May and June 2019, USCIB Staff met with Angela Ellard, House Ways & Means Minority Chief Trade Counsel, Christa Brzozwski, DHS, Nick Gardner, US Dairy Export Council, and Martin Kreienbaum, German Federal Ministry of Finance, issued recommendations on the WTO e-Commerce negotiations, hosted the 14th Annual OECD International Tax Conference, 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:
- Customs and Trade Facilitation – Reducing Barriers and Costs from Customs and Border Control Practices
- Anti-Illicit Trade – Promoting Strong International AIT Leadership and Advocating a Comprehensive and Multi-Disciplinary Approach to AIT
- Food and Agriculture – Promoting an Open and Efficient Global Food System by Providing Industry Expertise
Trade and Investment – Opening Global Markets for Trade and Investment
Angela Ellard, House Ways & Means, Briefs USCIB Trade Committee: At the June 20 meeting of the USCIB Trade and Investment Committee members received a briefing from Angela Ellard, Minority Chief Trade Counsel, House Ways & Means Committee. She shared her immediate impressions of Ambassador Lighthizer’s hearing the day prior, indicated that USMCA is a top priority and responded to questions on a range of other trade issues. This was followed by a briefing from Nick Ashton Hart of the Digital Trade Network, who called into the meeting directly after the conclusion of the WTO E-Commerce negotiations in Geneva. The most recent round of negotiations took place from June 18-20. Nick was able to provide an in depth, off-the-record briefing on the negotiations as the only business representative present in the room for the negotiations.
USCIB Statement on WTO e-Commerce Negotiations: In early June, USCIB issued Recommendations on the WTO e-Commerce negotiations, reflecting member priorities and goals for the negotiations, which had their first round in May. At the December 2017 WTO ministerial in Buenos Aires, 71 countries agreed to begin discussing new global rules to facilitate the expansion of the digital economy. The negotiations were formally launched in January with a joint statement by 76 countries, including the United States, in Davos at the World Economic Forum. As of the most recent round, the joint statement initiative now includes 78 WTO members, representing 90% of global trade. USCIB encouraged negotiators to focus on trade facilitation, services, digital trade, and transparency and trust. In addition to this paper, USCIB is actively engaging in the negotiations in Geneva via various efforts, including the Digital Trade Network and the International Chamber of Commerce.
Robinson on the Road (1): OECD and “Business at OECD” Annual High-Level Sessions: USCIB President/CEO Peter Robinson was one of the leaders of the Business at OECD (BIAC) delegation participating in the OECD’s annual Ministerial session in Paris May 22-23. Peter also attended the OECD’s pre-Ministerial Forum and was able to have a series of bilateral meetings with senior government representatives from the U.S. and other OECD countries, senior OECD officials including Secretary General Gurria and the newly-appointed Deputy Secretary General from the U.S., Jeffrey Schlagenhauf. Peter also attended, along with Business at OECD Vice Chair Rick Johnston (Citi), the annual BIAC General Assembly of its 30 national committees members and the 5th annual B20/G20/BIAC/OECD dialogue session ahead of the June G20 Osaka Summit, an opportunity for business to share recommendations to the G20 leaders and Sherpas.
Robinson on the Road (2): ICC High-Level Meetings: The following week, May 28-29, in Paris Peter Robinson shifted into International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) mode, representing USCIB at the ICC’s “Permanent Heads” meeting (i.e. Peter’s National Committee head counterparts from around ICC’s broad global network) and the ICC “World Council”. A special “Knowledge Solutions” session was held, at which ICC Secretary General John Denton and his leadership team laid out their vision, priorities, and structure for the organization, and which also included leadership representatives from some of ICC’s policy Commissions. A special ICC Centenary Summit was held to mark ICC’s 100th year, which was addressed by senior governmental and intergovernmental officials and at which previous ICC Chairmen and Secretaries-General were present.
Robinson on the Road (3): Geneva and London – ILO Leadership and Partnership with ICC-UK: after a short break at home, Peter was off to Geneva to participate, June 17-18, along with USCIB Vice President Gabriella Rigg Herzog, Senior Counsels Ronnie Goldberg and Tom Mackall, and several USCIB member company representatives in events at and around the International Labor Organization’s (ILO) ten-day centennial International Labor Conference. While in Geneva, Peter attended the Presidents Forum of the International Organization of Employers (IOE) and was a featured panelist, along with ILO DG Guy Ryder, WTO DG Roberto Azevedo, World Bank SVP Mahmoud Mohieldin, OECD Chief of Staff Gabriela Ramos, ITUC DG Sharan Burrow and others at an ILO event on “Multilateralism for an Equitable Future of Work.” Peter was also able to have a series of very useful informal bi-laterals with key government and international organization leaders. Peter then stopped in London on his way home, joining a panel at ICC-UK’s annual general meeting, presenting USCIB views on the future of the WTO, the multilateral trading system, and the just-launched WTO e-commerce negotiations. Peter also was invited to join and speak to ICC-UK’s Board meeting about current USCIB/ICC-USA priorities.
Hampl Discusses China and USMCA at Investor Conference: USCIB Senior Director, Investment, Trade and Financial Services, Eva Hampl, spoke on a panel entitled Trade & Tariffs – Today & Tomorrow at the annual MLP & Energy Infrastructure Conference (MEIC 2019) in Las Vegas, May 14-16. The panel, which also included Colin Bird from the Embassy of Canada and Karen Antebi from the Embassy of Mexico, provided a macro perspective on current trade issues. The discussion focused on various issues surrounding China, the importance of the U.S. trade relationship with Mexico and Canada, including the U.S. Mexico Canada Trade Agreement (USMCA), and other trade issues.
Donnelly Meets with Swiss Government Official: USCIB Vice President Shaun Donnelly met May 14 with visiting senior Swiss Government official, Phillippe Nell, Director for the Americas in the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (“SECO”), to exchange views on a range of bilateral and global trade and economic issues, including WTO reform, China, new U.S. national security review procedures for incoming Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), and possibilities for a U.S. – Switzerland trade agreement.
USCIB Board of Directors Focuses on Trade Policy Developments: USCIB’s Board of Directors at its Spring meeting in New York City on May 15, had a wide-ranging discussion of key trade issues. The Board focused on issues including “section 232” national security reviews of imported steel, aluminum, and automobiles; prospects for congressional approval of the U.S./Mexico/Canada Agreement (USMCA); U.S.-China trade tensions; as well as WTO priorities, negotiation of an e-commerce agreement and institutional reform of the WTO. The Board endorsed the leadership role and the strong policy positions USCIB’s Trade and Investment Committee have been articulating.
USCIB Leading Business Voice on UNCITRAL Negotiations on Investment Agreement “Reform”: USCIB staff members have been meeting regularly with U.S. government investment negotiators and lawyers participating in the negotiations under the auspices of the UN’s Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) Working Group 3. Those discussions of possible revisions to the vast network of 3000+ Bilateral Investment Treaties (“BITs”) as well as investment chapters in Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) around the world are zeroing in on key enforcement details, the Investor-State Dispute Settlement “ISDS” provisions. On April 29, USCIB staff met with the key US negotiators from the State Department and the office of the U.S. Trade Representative to review developments. On May 23, USCIB Vice President Shaun Donnelly was a rare business participant amidst a sea of lawyers in the discussion of the UNCITRAL negotiations at the open public meeting of the State Department’s Advisory Committee on Private International Law. USCIB is continuing to urge the U.S. Government and other participants to maintain strong substantive investment protections as well as enforcement provisions.
ICT Policy – Promoting Sound Policies for New Technologies
USCIB Members Shape Launch of OECD Review of 2013 Privacy Guidelines, Advance Work on Security, Data Governance, & Communications Issues: Business should assume responsibility for the privacy of data through its life cycle by conducting rigorous and documented risk assessments and mitigation, ensuring transparency through both internal and external audits, continually monitoring and testing to prevent gaps, and generally going above and beyond what is required by law. This was an important message delivered USCIB members who participated in a special OECD workshop on May 6 aimed at a advancing the mandated five-year review of the 2013 OECD Guidelines Governing the Protection of Privacy and Transborder Flows of Personal Data (the “Privacy Guidelines”). The May 6-7 meetings of the Committee on Digital Economy Policy (CDEP) Working Party Security and Privacy in the Digital Economy (SPDE), also moved forward work focused on revising an OECD Recommendation on the Protection of Children Online, developing principles for access to and sharing of data, advancing the Global Forum for Digital Security for Prosperity, and adopting the draft Recommendation on Artificial Intelligence. AT&T provided a critical review of the OECD’s work on bundled communication price baskets, which was considered at the May 7 meeting of the Working Party on Communication Infrastructures and Services Policy (CISP).
USCIB Convenes Meeting with Co-Director of the UN High Level Panel on Digital Cooperation Secretariat: USCIB convened a private, luncheon discussion on June 13 with Ambassador Amandeep Gill, Co-Director of the UN High-Level Panel on Digital Cooperation (HLPDC) Secretariat. The meeting was especially timely since the HLPDC report, The Age of Digital Interdependence, was hot off the press having been issued on June 10. USCIB members reiterated key points in our November 2018 and January 2019 submissions, urging a “holistic approach” to digital policy that went beyond use of digital technologies by the information, communications, and technology (ICT) sector, and considered how ICTs can serve as enablers for innovations across all sectors, such as in healthcare, education, finance, and energy, to name a few. Members cautioned against creating duplicative Internet governance mechanisms, urged increased resources to support the Internet Governance Forum (IGF), and encouraged the HLPDC to integrate the OECD’s work on Artificial Intelligence and digital transformation as well as draw upon initiatives of standards organizations, such as the IEEE.
USCIB Engages with U.S. Department of Justice and State about International Initiatives Focused on Cybercrime and Cybersecurity: The June 13 meeting of the ICT Policy Committee featured discussions with Department of Justice officials about efforts currently underway to negotiate an additional protocol to the so-called Budapest Convention on Cybercrime. The changes are aimed at bringing the Convention up to date with developments in the digital economy, improve on the current Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) approach, and generally expand international cooperation to pursue various computer crimes. An important over-arching theme was that cybercrime (e.g. fraud and other crimes involving computers) should not be conflated with cybersecurity, the latter of which centers on the protection of networks. Complementing the cybercrime discussion, USCIB members explored with key State Department officials the latest developments in the United Nations Group of Governmental Experts on Developments in the Field of Information and Telecommunications (GGE), which enjoys U.S. support. The GGE is structured to convene regular institutional dialogue on cybersecurity issues as well as bilateral and regional discussions that feed into the UN General Assembly. In the run-up to the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly, however, the Russian Government put forward a competing proposal for a cybersecurity-focused Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG). The U.S. Government abstained on grounds that the OEWG’s work likely will be strongly influenced by Russia’s support for mechanisms to censor online content. Nevertheless, the OEWG kicked off an organization meeting on June 3 and likely will proceed ahead of the GGE process. The State Department speaker informed USCIB members that stakeholders accredited by ECOSOC may participate in the OEWG as observers; the GGE is a multilateral process involving governments only.
USCIB Members Advocate for Timely Development of a GDPR-Compliant Uniform Access Model (UAM) for Nonpublic Registration Data at ICANN 65: ICANN 65’s policy-focused meeting wrapped up on June 27 in Marrakech, Morocco. Barbara Wanner, USCIB Vice President for ICT Policy, and members from AT&T, Amazon, BT, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, The Walt Disney Company, and VeriSign, joined participants from the multi-stakeholder community to address key policy issues in management of the domain name system. For the past year, USCIB members have been contributing actively to an Expedited Policy Development Process (EPDP) 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 and access to registration data as well as comply with the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The EPDP’s Phase 1 Final Report was issued earlier this year, which contained 29 policy recommendations. USCIB members who participate in the ICANN’s Business and Intellectual Property Constituencies used the Marrakech meeting to underscore the importance of moving expeditiously in “Phase 2.” This phase will focus on designing a Uniform Access Model (UAM) 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.
Tax – Advancing Tax Policies that Promote U.S. Competitiveness
USCIB Holds Successful Tax Conference with the OECD and Business at OECD: The fourteenth annual OECD/USCIB Tax Conference took place on June 3rd and 4th at the Four Seasons in Washington, DC. The conference focused on the taxation of the digitalizing economy and provided the first opportunity for business and governments to discuss the OECD’s work program. The conference also considered treaty issues and the tax implications of Brexit. Tax Committee Chair, Bill Sample, and Vice Chairs, Tim McDonald, Louise Weingrod, and Will Morris represented business views at the conference. Economist Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala’s keynote remarks focused on ways to improve the tax capacity of emerging markets, which are expected to receive a growing share of global private-sector investment in the years ahead
Other panelists and speakers at this year’s conference included:
- Pascal Saint-Amans, director of the OECD Center for Tax Policy & Administration
- Martin Kreienbaum, director general for international taxation, German Ministry of Finance
- Chip Harter, deputy assistant secretary for international tax affairs, U.S. Treasury
- Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, an economist and former finance minister of Nigeria
- Doug O’Donnell, commissioner of the Large Business and International Division, IRS
- Mike Williams, director of business and international tax, HM Treasury (UK).
USCIB Tax Committee Meets in Conjunction with OECD/USCIB Tax Conference: The USCIB Tax Committee met with Martin Kreienbaum, which afforded committee members a deep dive on some of the issues discussed at the Tax Conference. The committee also considered ways to provide input into the OECD work program and recent guidance on Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
Carol Doran Klein Represents Business Views at the Pacific Rim Tax Conference in Palo Alto: USCIB’s tax expert Carol Doran Klein presented at the ninth annual Pacific Rim Tax Conference on Digital Economy Tax Issues, held May 9-10 in California. Doran Klein’s panel covered the ongoing work on taxation of the digitalizing economy at the Organization for Economic Cooperation (OECD) and the United Nations. The panel provided an overview of the background including Action 1 of the OECD’s Base-Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) project, digital services taxes and other unilateral interim measures, and the different options under consideration at the OECD.
USCIB Submits Comments to Regulators: USCIB submitted comments on proposed regulations on Foreign Derived Intangible Income and on draft UN transfer pricing guidance. The comments can be found under the recent accomplishments section of our web page.
Customs and Trade Facilitation – Reducing Barriers and Costs from Customs and Border Control Practices
USCIB and U.S. Chamber Hold WCO E-Commerce Industry Day Meeting: On May 21, 2019, USCIB members along with many U.S. government agency partners (CBP, DHS, USTR, State, Treasury), and non-member associations working on customs issues (IRU, US Fashion Industry Association, American Association of Importers and Exporters), came together to discuss the WCO E-Commerce Framework of Standards. The meeting was led by Christa Brzozwski of DHS, and Customs and Trade Facilitation Committee Chair, Jerry Cook of Hanes brand. The goal of the meeting was to ensure that the USG have enough “industry” support for their positions going into the June Policy Commission Meeting and it was felt that this goal was achieved.
Anti-Illicit Trade – Promoting Strong International AIT Leadership and Advocating a Comprehensive and Multi-Disciplinary Approach to AIT
USCIB Anti-Illicit Trade Committee Talks FTZ Legislation: On June 10, 2019, USCIB hosted Paul Massaro, Policy Advisor for the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (U.S. Helsinki Commission) and Gary Kalman, Executive Director for the Financial Accountability and Corporate Transparency (FACT) Coalition to discuss future FTZ legislation and the Corporate Transparency Act. Massaro explained how the Helsinki Commission has engaged and become a part of the US task force on illicit trade while Kalman elaborated on the international development of the FACT coalition within the illicit finance background. At the meeting, Megan Giblin and David Luna, Committee Chair, provided updates on AITC partnerships including possible FTZ workshop, meetings with State and APEC, as well as beginning discussions with ICC BASCAP.
Food and Agriculture – Promoting an Open and Efficient Global Food System by Providing Industry Expertise
USCIB Holds Joint Food and Agriculture and Health Care Committee Meeting: On June 5, 2019, Nick Gardner, Director, Codex and International Regulatory Affairs at the US Dairy Export Council, met with USCIB members to provide a detailed overview and insight into Codex Alimentarius and its involvement with food safety. Gardner emphasized the overarching issue with WHO and FAO jointly administering Codex, which poses several challenges, such as major trade implications and access to new markets/trade to existing markets. Additionally, at the meeting, Mike Michener discussed important upcoming events, including the ECOSOC High Level Political Forum (July 9-18) and the UN General Assembly (September, 17-30).
China – Supporting Policies and Relationships that Enhance U.S.-China Business
USCIB Submits Comments on China Tariffs and Hampl Testifies: USCIB submitted comments on June 17 to the office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) on the proposed modification to Section 301 regarding China’s policies and practices related to technology transfer, intellectual property and innovation. The submission expressed concern that proposed tariffs on essentially all Chinese imports will stifle the U.S. economy and will not achieve the Administration’s goal of changing China’s behavior. Eva Hampl, Senior Director for Investment, Trade and Financial Services testified on these issues before the Section 301 Committee on June 21 as part of a hearing spanning 7 days and with over 300 witnesses. USCIB also joined with the Tariffs Hurt the Heartland Coalition, alongside 661 other companies and association, to send a letter to President Trump on June 13 urging the administration to negotiate a strong deal with China that addresses longstanding structural issues, improves U.S. global competitiveness and eliminates tariffs.
USCIB Urges Reversal of 1-800 Contacts FTC Ruling: USCIB filed an amicus brief with regards to 1-800 Contacts, Inc. case to highlight the challenges American businesses would face under the recent Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) decision’s approach to antitrust liability for trademark settlements, and explain the potential negative impacts the decision would have on businesses, consumers and competition if left to stand. Earlier this year, the FTC decided to impose antitrust liability against 1-800 Contacts, the largest online retailer of contact lenses in the U.S., on the basis that 1-800 Contacts’ settlements of trademark infringing lawsuits against at least fourteen competing online contact lens retailers restricted trade. Among other things, USCIB’s amicus argues that the Commission’s decision ignores the critical importance to business of intellectual property rights and its enforcement and would unfairly require the lawful exercise of such rights to a higher pro-competition standard.
Membership Meetings: The USCIB membership department and policy staff met with representatives from member companies Nissan North America, Expedia, Astellas, and American Express to develop our understanding of their policy priorities for the next year and beyond, and to see how USCIB can better serve their policy needs. In addition, the USCIB membership department and USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson met with representatives from member companies AT&T and Intel Corporation.
New Members: USCIB has recently welcomed Palo Alto Networks as a new member.
- OECD Committee on Digital Economy Policy, Paris, France – July 1-2
- UN High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), New York, NY – July 9-18
- USCIB Customs and Trade Facilitation Committee Meeting, Washington, DC – July 10
- USCIB Foundation-IOE-Deloitte SDG Summit, New York, NY – July 17
- US Customs & Border Protection 2019 Trade Symposium, Chicago, Illinois – July 23-24
- Internet Governance Forum USA (IGF-USA), Washington, DC – July 25
- Meeting of APEC Electronic Commerce Steering Group and Data Privacy Subgroup, Puerto Varas, Chile – August 18-21
- Preparing for the Future of Work: A USCIB Foundation Dialogue, Washington, DC – September 5
- 11th Annual Engaging Business Forum on Business and Human Rights, Atlanta, Georgia – September 12-13
- World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC), Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt – October 28-November 22
- ICANN 66, Montreal, Canada – November 2-7
- Meetings of the OECD Committee on Digital Economy Policy (CDEP) and its Working Parties, Paris France – November 18022
- 14th Internet Governance Forum (IGF), Berlin, Germany – November 25-29
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