During the months of April and May, 2017, USCIB Staff met with Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta, arranged for an exclusive member meeting with OECD Secretary General Angel Gurria, met with Acting CBP Commissioner Kevin McAleenan and Acting Assistant Secretary of State Patricia Haslach, participated in a Special White House Meeting about the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield Framework, submitted letters to Treasury on reviewing regulations and defending U.S. tax interests at the G7, G20 and the UN, testified on trade deficits, and much more. Below are summaries of these and other highlights from the activities of USCIB in Washington, D.C. over the last two 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:
- Trade and Investment – Opening Global Markets for Trade and Investment
- ICT Policy – Promoting Sound Policies for New Technologies
- Tax – Advancing Tax Policies that Promote U.S. Competitiveness
- Customs and Trade Facilitation – Reducing Barriers and Costs from Customs and Border Control Practices
- Corporate Responsibility and Labor Affairs – Shaping the Development of CR Principles and Increasing Awareness of Business’s Positive Social Contributions
- Health – Business Engagement for Balanced International Health and Nutrition Regulations
- Product Policy – Ensuring U.S. Products Timely Access to Markets Around the World
- Innovation and Intellectual Property – Strengthening International Protections for U.S. IP
- Upcoming Events
- Staff List
Trade and Investment – Opening Global Markets for Trade and Investment
OECD Secretary General Gurria Addresses USCIB Members: On Friday, April 21, 2017, OECD Secretary General Angel Gurria met with Senior Representatives of USCIB members at the Citigroup offices in Washington, DC. The Secretary General spoke about the work of the OECD in addressing growing anti-globalization sentiments and engaged members on their perceptions of the OECD and the outlook for OECD funding in the new administration.
USCIB CEO and Members Raise Concerns with Patricia Haslach, Acting Assistant Secretary of State: On Thursday, May 11, 2017, USCIB President and CEO, Peter Robinson, along with senior staff and members met with Patricia Haslach, Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs. In a meeting held at the USCIB DC Offices, Members discussed a range of concerns about the attitudes of many international organizations towards business engagement, including at the WHO, the UN in Climate Change talks, in UN work on access to medicine, and World Bank efforts on payment systems. Ambassador Haslach recognized and appreciated our concerns and committed to working with us in tackling these issues.
Mulligan Tackles Colombia Accession and Trade Policy at OECD/BIAC Trade Committee Meetings: During the week of April 24, Rob Mulligan, USCIB Senior Vice President for Policy and Government Affairs, represented USCIB at the OECD and BIAC Trade Committee meetings held in Paris and attended the OECD Trade Communications Conference. Working with BIAC and key USCIB members, we met with OECD staff and delegates from several countries to raise concerns related to Colombia’s accession to the OECD and pressed the OECD Trade Committee to include certain contingencies for Colombia to satisfy before getting final committee approval. The BIAC Trade Committee finalized and released its paper “Trade as a Priority for All” which recommends the ten priority issue areas the OECD Trade Committee should address as part of its workplan. The Committee also discussed concerns with the draft OECD Trade Committee paper circulated that week outlining views on the causes of increased public opposition to trade and proposing how governments should best address these concerns. While in Paris, Rob was also able to meet with Doug Frantz, OECD Deputy Secretary General, Peter Haas, Deputy Permanent Representative of the U.S. Mission to the OECD, and Ken Ash, Director of the OECD Trade Directorate.
USCIB Brainstorming on CFIUS: On April 19, 2017 USCIB staff (Shaun Donnelly and Eva Hampl) and a group of members had a good wide-ranging discussion on issues related to the U.S. Government’s Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. (CFIUS). CFIUS is a long-standing interagency committee chaired by the Treasury Department charged with reviewing the national security aspects of foreign acquisitions of U.S. firms. With a new Administration and reports of various CFIUS-related bills in preparation or discussion on the Hill, we wanted to review the bidding on USCIB’s long-standing support for open investment regimes, both inward and outward. There seemed to be a consensus among members on USCIB’s orientations on CFIUS; we’ll be distilling the discussion into basic policy pillars to guide our work in this area.
Donnelly Keynotes Annual Meeting of ACFR: USCIB Vice President Shaun Donnelly was the keynote speaker at the 22nd annual Washington meeting of the American Councils on Foreign Relations (ACFR), a network of foreign policy discussions groups around the country. Shaun discussed U.S. and global policy issues on trade and investment and led a vigorous Q and A session.
USCIB Working with AmChamEU: Susan Danger, the widely-respected CEO of the Brussels-based American Chamber of Commerce to the European Union (AmChamEU) met with USCIB President/CEO Peter Robinson in New York May 5, then followed up with a session with SVP Rob Mulligan in Washington on May 8. AmChamEU Policy Advisor Tim Atkinson accompanied Susan. Trade and investment policy (including TTIP, TPP. NAFTA, WTO, and the EU-Canada “CETA” agreement) and the political landscape on both sides of the Atlantic were the focus of the discussion. USCIB and AmChamEU membership lists overlap to a considerable degree so it not surprising that our analyses and priorities generally align closely. We agreed to continue working together and look for concrete areas where we can deepen our partnership. We welcome specific suggestions from members on areas/initiative/events where USCIB and AmChamEU can cooperate going forward.
USCIB Weighs in on the Debate about Trade Deficits with Submission and Testimony: In May USCIB submitted a statement Regarding Causes of Significant Trade Deficits to the Department of Commerce in response to the Federal Register Notice responding to the executive order requesting the Omnibus Report on Significant Trade Deficits from Commerce and USTR. USCIB’s comments as well as a public testimony that was delivered by USCIB’s Director for Investment, Trade, and Financial Services Eva Hampl on May 18, 2017 reflect USCIB’s view that the U.S. Government’s approach to trade and international economic policy-making must be much broader than bilateral trade deficits in goods. Given the multi-sectoral nature of our membership and the significant work we do in the multilateral space, our comments present a high-level view on the question more broadly, rather than getting into detailed analysis or focusing on individual sectors and markets. In her testimony, Hampl emphasized USCIB’s view that trade deficits are a product of broader macroeconomic factors, not trade policy, and that the trade balance should not be viewed as a straightforward indicator of a country’s economic health. While it is useful to address trade barriers that impede access for U.S. goods and services exporters to specific markets, we should not set up bilateral trade balances as the metric of successful trade policies.
USCIB Discusses Colombia’s Accession Process to the OECD with Japan and France: In April, Eva Hampl, Director, Investment, Trade and Financial Services, led a group of companies in a meeting and a call with the Embassy of Japan and the Embassy of France, respectively, to discuss important market access issues related to Colombia’s accession to the OECD. The meetings took place ahead of the OECD Trade Committee meetings in Paris in late April, for which Colombia accession was on the agenda. The U.S.-Colombia trade relationship is important to USCIB and its members. USCIB has been continuously engaged in this effort to resolved all remaining market access issues prior to Colombia’s accession to the OECD, and looks forward to Colombia raising their standards to the level of the OECD in a timely manner.
USCIB Signs Association Letter Raising Concerns with China Cybersecurity Rules: On April 6, 2017, USCIB’s China Committee held a meeting via phone to discuss the USCIB 2017 China Committee Priorities. One of the specific concerns focused on China’s broad cybersecurity law which took effect on June 1, 2017. In anticipation of this date, USCIB joined with a range of industry groups from the United States and other countries in appealing for the country to delay its entry into force. Among other things, the new law gives law enforcement enhanced authority to access private data and require data to be stored on servers located in China. In a joint letter, the business groups said they are “deeply concerned that current and pending security-related rules will effectively erect trade barriers along national boundaries that effectively bar participation in your market and affect companies across industry sectors that rely on information technology goods and services to conduct business.” The letter called on China to ensure that cybersecurity regulations comply with China’s World Trade Organization (WTO) commitments and encourage the adoption of international models that support China’s development as a global hub for technology and services.
ICT Policy – Promoting Sound Policies for New Technologies
USCIB Participates in Special White House Meeting on the EU-US Privacy Shield Framework: On April 5, USCIB joined eight other business groups at a special meeting with key administration staff. It was billed as a “listening” meeting, which primarily was aimed at enabling staff from the NSC, NEC, State and Commerce Departments, FTC, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) to gain a better understanding of the business community’s interests and concerns about continuation of the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield framework. Trade association representatives highlighted several issues important to maintaining Privacy Shield when it comes up for annual review in September 2017. USCIB underscored the need to fill the Ombudsperson position in a timely manner and ensuring adequate funding to carry out the duties of the position. Business also highlighted Presidential Policy Directive 29 (PPD-28) and the need to preserve limits on surveillance of non-U.S. persons as well as the political importance of the Judicial Review Act to the Privacy Shield, among other issues. In anticipation of the September review, business expressed interest in working closely with the U.S. Government to provide information requested by the European Commission, such as: (1) examples of how companies are complying with Privacy Shield; and (2) records indicating how many times U.S. authorities asked Shield-certified companies to provide EU citizens’ private data.
USCIB Files IGF Workshop Proposal Underscoring the Importance of Digital Trade to Development and the Negative Impact of Localization Requirements: On May 3, 2017, USCIB submitted a workshop proposal for the 12th annual meeting of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF), which will be held in Geneva, Switzerland, December 18-21, 2017, under the theme, Shape Your Digital Future! USCIB’s proposed workshop, “Internet Governance 2017: Realizing SDGs through Policies Enabling Digital Trade,” was co-organized with IEEE and would feature USCIB speakers from Amazon, AT&T, Intel, Microsoft, and the digital content community, and others from government and civil society. Underscoring the power of ICTs and digital innovation to help realize many of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the workshop proposes examining digital trade rules and other essential policies to enable investment, competition, sufficient infrastructure, and cross-border flows of data and information. Speakers also would explore how some government measures that aim to promote domestic industry by establishing local requirements have the potential to limit growth of the digital economy and inhibit global development. USCIB will learn whether this workshop proposal is accepted later in June.
USCIB Members Shape Continued Development of OECD Horizontal Project on Digital Transformation of the Economy: USCIB Members participated in the May 15-19 meetings of the OECD’s Committee on Digital Economy Policy (CDEP) and its Working Parties, where they made important contributions to discussions aimed at establishing the framework for the OECD’s Going Digital project on the digital transformation of the economy. This is the most ambitious horizontal project that has ever been undertaken by the OECD, the goal of which is to help governments approach the digital transformation of the economy in a coherent, proactive, and whole-of-government manner. USCIB members made key interventions to influence the development of work products that will feed into the Going Digital Project produced by the Working Party on Communication Infrastructures and Services Policy (CISP), the Working Party on Measurement and Analysis of the Digital Economy (MADE), and the Working Party on Security and Privacy in the Digital Economy (SPDE).
Tax – Advancing Tax Policies that Promote U.S. Competitiveness
USCIB Represents Members at UN Committee of Tax Experts Meeting: Bill Sample, Chair of the USCIB Tax Committee, and Carol Doran Klein, USCIB Vice President and International Tax Counsel, participated as observers at the recent UN Committee meeting in New York the week of April 3-7, 2017. This meeting was the last meeting of the current membership of the committee and wrapped up a number of topics. The UN will be issuing a new UN Model Income Tax Treaty and a new UN Transfer Pricing Manual for the next several months. When the committee is reformed in July they will take up topics of interest to members including taxation of the digital economy.
USCIB Submits Letters to Treasury on Reviewing Regulations and Defending U.S. Tax Interests at the G7, G20 and the UN: In response to Executive Order 13789, USCIB submitted a letter requesting that the Treasury Department review a number of regulations including regulations under 987, 367, 482, 385 and 901(m). The letter emphasized the undue burden imposed by these regulations and the need to defer effective dates to prevent taxpayers from expending resources on regulations that might be eliminated or substantially modified. The second letter urged the Administration take immediate action to ensure that tax principles that would adversely affect U.S.-based multinational companies and the rights of the United States to tax the income earned by such companies are not encouraged or endorsed by international bodies (the G7, G20, OECD and UN) focusing on taxation rules, particularly those applicable to businesses operating in the digital economy.
Customs and Trade Facilitation – Reducing Barriers and Costs from Customs and Border Control Practices
Peter Robinson and Members Meet with Acting CBP Commissioner McAleenan: On Wednesday, May 10, 2017 USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson and a group of USCIB staff and members met with the Acting Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Kevin McAleenan, who has been nominated by the President to be Commissioner. Member company representatives including the Chair of the USCIB Customs Committee, Jerry Cook, Vice President for Government and Trade Relations at Hanesbrands. Robinson expressed support for the work of CBP and its team and noted USCIB’s longstanding engagement with CBP on customs policy issues as well as the ATA Carnet program. Members identified various issue areas of concern related to customs valuation, implementation of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement, engagement with the work of the World Customs Organization, and continued progress and eventually closure on ACE, forced labor, e-commerce, and more.
Giblin Attends ICC Customs Meetings in Dubai: On May 17-18, 2017, Megan Giblin, USCIB Director for Customs and Trade Facilitation, attended the ICC Commission on Customs and Trade Facilitation Meetings in Dubai, UAE. Topics discussed included Free Trade Zones, humanitarian shipments, customs valuation, customs classification, rules of origin, guarantee schemes, refill-reuse containers and more. Giblin was joined by several USCIB members, including FedEx, Roanoke, and Phillip Morris International. In addition, there were ICC National Committee representatives from Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan, UAE, Georgia to name a few. On the sidelines of the ICC Commission meeting, Megan also attended a half day Customs and Trade Facilitation Forum co-organized by ICC UAE, the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and ICC as well as a tour of the Jebel Ali Free Trade Zone.
USCIB Strongly Represented at U.S. CBP West Coast Trade Symposium: Giblin also attended the CBP West Coast Symposium from May 24 -25, in Phoenix, Arizona, where she spoke on the panel “The Business of Small Business: Is there a window of opportunity for Small Businesses to work in conjunction with consumers as well as other businesses?” The panel discussed compliance issues, transportation and logistics, as well as national and international business models, and considered the importance of building relationships with other industries such as e-commerce arena. The panel was moderated by Shaun Keller, Chief, E-Commerce and Small Business Branch, OT, CBP, and panelists included Rene Romero, President, Customs Broker and Freight Forwarder, AM-Mex International, and USCIB members Al Kaufman, Senior Vice President of Technical Affairs at The Toy Association, and Lisa Schimmelpfenning, Vice President, Importer/Export, Compliance and Administration, Wal-Mart.
Customs Committee Meets with Sushan Demirjian, USTR: On Tuesday, April 25, 2017, the USCIB Customs and Trade Facilitation Committee met with Sushan Demirjian, Deputy Assistant USTR for Market Access and Industrial Competitiveness, to discuss the topic of remanufactured and refurbished goods and their current treatment in U.S. Free Trade Agreements. Sushan highlighted and welcomed industry feedback on the new Remanufacturers Industries Council document, RIC001.1-2016: “Specifications for the Process of Remanufacturing”, which was approved by the ANSI Board of Standards Review and is now an approved American National Standard. Members also discussed customs valuation, the STOP Act, and e-commerce efforts in the customs space. Additionally, the Committee developed positions on issues for the ICC Customs Commission Meeting in Dubai, including on bond, humanitarian shipments, and reference price databases.
Corporate Responsibility and Labor Affairs – Shaping the Development of CR Principles and Increasing Awareness of Business’s Positive Social Contributions
Secretary of Labor Acosta Consults with Senior USCIB Leadership on G20 Labor Ministers Meeting: On Wednesday, May 10, 2017, CEO Peter Robinson, as well as Rob Mulligan and Senior Counsel, Ronnie Goldberg, met with the new Secretary of Labor, Alexander Acosta, to discuss the upcoming G20 Labor and Employment Ministers meeting in Bad Neuenahr, Germany, as well as the Global Employers Summit and “B20/L20” (both employer and trade union representatives) dinner meeting the day before. Robinson raised the recommendations of the B20 Labor and Employment taskforce, on which he has served as a Co-Chair. Secretary Acosta was very interested in how governments can do a better job of matching training and skills development with the needs of employers. In that regard, he was especially interested in the work we are doing with ILO on apprenticeships and with BIAC on womens’ participation in the workforce, and expressed interest in highlighting U.S. government and business leadership in these areas.
Corporate Responsibility and Labor Affairs Committee Hears from Melike Yetken, State Department: USCIB’s Corporate Responsibility and Labor Affairs Committee met on May 2-3, 2017, in Washington D.C., under the direction of the new USCIB Vice President of Corporate Responsibility and Labor Affairs, Gabriella Rigg Herzog. Hosted by Foley & Lardner, the meeting was attended by over 40 representatives from member companies, and speakers included a variety of U.S. government officials, civil society and industry. Melike Yetken, Senior Advisor for Corporate Responsibility, U.S. Department of State, spoke about the U.S. National Action Plan and held a discussion with Hanni Rosenbaum, Senior Director, Policy and Strategic Planning, BIAC, on the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Business Conduct. Garance Pineau from MEDEF and Marhijn Visser from VNO-NCW-MKB presented on the recent French and Dutch due diligence laws, respectively. Several other USCIB members and civil society organizations served as guest speakers, touching on topics of forced labor, corporate responsibility benchmarks and conflict minerals, among others.
Health – Business Engagement for Balanced International Health and Nutrition Regulations
USCIB Supports BIAC Health Committee Plans for Outreach to Capitals: On May 30, 2017 Mike Michener, USCIB Vice President for Product Policy and Innovation, attended meetings of the Business at OECD (BIAC) Health Committee. At a morning strategy session, pharmaceutical industry committee members prepared for a June 28th consultation on sustainable access to pharmaceutical innovations. After lunch with Belgium’s Ambassador to the OECD, Jean-Joel Schittecatte, the Committee reviewed policy input on 2017-18 OECD projects, heard about outreach projects and events, and discussed ways to improve communications and coordination between Committee members and their capitals.
Product Policy – Ensuring U.S. Products Timely Access to Markets Around the World
USCIB Product Policy Working Group Meets with Executive Secretary of UNEP Chemicals Conventions: The Executive Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm (BRS) Conventions, Dr. Rolph Payet, met with industry representatives on May 25, 2017. The representatives communicated key issues and concerns which have the potential to undermine implementation of the Conventions, limit their effectiveness and waste resources. The industry positioned itself as a constructive contributor and resource to help modernize the various Convention processes and increase the level of expertise available to the Conventions, while also exploring specific opportunities where industry might partner with the BRS Conventions and demonstrate proactive, ongoing product stewardship efforts being led by industry.
Innovation and Intellectual Property – Strengthening International Protections for U.S. IP
USCIB Relaunches and Renames Intellectual Property Committee: After more than a year in hiatus, the USCIB IP Committee met on May 11, 2017, and decided to increase its focus on new technologies and other areas of private sector research and innovation. The Committee agreed to a new name, the Innovation and Intellectual Property (IIP) Committee, and a new structure that created four working groups to focus on specific sectors of IIP: copyrights, trademarks, patents, and confidential business information (CBI). Sharon Reiche of Pfizer has agreed to serve as Chair of the IP Committee, and we are currently seeking expressions of interest to serve as Vice Chair and as head each of the working groups – if you are interested, please contact Mike Michener, USCIB Vice President for Product Policy and Innovation.
Membership Meetings: The Washington, D.C. membership department and policy staff met with representatives from member companies Grant Thornton, Dentons, Applied Materials, and CenturyLink 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.
New Members: USCIB has recently welcomed Cargill and Hilton as new members
USCIB/OECD/BIAC 2017 International Tax Conference, Washington, D.C. – June 5-6
BIAC General Assembly, Paris, France – June 6
USCIB Digital Trade Working Group Meeting, Washington, D.C. – June 9
World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) Forum, Geneva, Switzerland – June 12-16
USCIB Trade and Investment Committee Meeting, Washington, D.C. – June 14
ICC Marketing Commission Meetings, Paris, France – June 15-16
OECD Competition Week, June 19-23
BIAC China Task Force Meeting, Paris, France – June 19
USCIB Customs and Trade Facilitation Committee Meeting, Washington, D.C. – June 21
ICANN 59, Johannesburg, South Africa – June 26-29
OECD Global Forum on Responsible Business Conduct Roundtable for Policy Makers, Paris, France – June 28
OECD Global Forum on Responsible Business Conduct, Paris, France – June 29-30
UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) High-Level Policy Forum & Ministerial, UN-HQ, New York – July 10-19
APEC Senior Officials Meeting (SOM 3), Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam – August 15-30
USCIB Policy and Program Staff
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