USCIB Policy Experts Provided Extensive Input Into the B20

This year’s B20 Summit, held November 13-14, embraced the theme of ‘Advancing Innovative, Inclusive and Collaborative Growth’ in support of the G20 theme of ‘Recover Together, Recover Stronger’. The B20 Summit brought together world business leaders representing leading multinational corporations. In the lead up to the B20 Summit, USCIB policy experts worked closely with USCIB members through various B20 Task Forces, such as those focused on digitalization, trade and investment, integrity and compliance as well as illicit trade and illicit finance. 

USCIB Vice President for ICT Policy Barbara Wanner participated on the B20 Indonesia Digitalization Task Force on behalf of USCIB members. Wanner provided inputs to the Digitalization Task Force report aimed at ensuring that the substance aligned with USCIB contributions to the OECD digital work and the UN Global Digital Compact. According to Wanner, the focus of USCIB substantive inputs – which largely were taken on board by B20 Indonesia – were aimed at carrying through the themes of “data free flows with trust,” opposition to data localization requirements, risk-based and interoperable approaches to digital security, and the importance of multistakeholder participation in global digital consultations.  

USCIB Director, Investment, Trade and China Alice Slayton Clark served on the B20 Trade and Iinvestment Task Force and provided recommendations on behalf of USCIB members in four key areas: promote open, fair and inclusive post-pandemic global trade and investment policies; facilitate innovation and digitalization that supports international development and avoids future crises; encourage inclusivity in global supply chains; and ensure trade and investment drive greener and more sustainable development. USCIB Director for Customs and Trade Facilitation Megan Giblin also played a key role in advancing inputs and securing inclusion of customs and trade facilitation language to reflect member and Committee priorities.  

Meanwhile, USCIB Senior VP, Innovation, Regulation, and Trade Brian Lowry participated as a Member of the B20 Indonesia Integrity & Compliance Task Force alongside USCIB Policy Manager for Environment and Sustainable Development Agnes Vinblad, supporting as a deputy member of the task force. Giblin also served a critical role in coordinating efforts to gather USCIB member inputs, reflecting member and Committee priorities, on the inclusion of language specifically pertaining to illicit trade and illicit finance.  

Working with David M. Luna, chair of the USCIB Anti-Illicit Trade Committee, USCIB submitted comments pertaining to Policy Recommendation 3 to foster agility in counteract measures to combat money laundering/terrorist financing risk and Policy Action 3.1 to refocus on money laundering/terrorist financing risk factors identification. USCIB’s submission on language recognizing the “link between the sustainability agenda, illicit trade/illicit finance, and financial crime” was adopted by the task force and is included in the final policy paper. Additionally, commentary submitted by USCIB to include language on environmental crime and trade-based money laundering is also reflected in the final policy paper. 

USCIB Files Comments on US Government Trade Strategy to Combat Forced Labor

USCIB filed public comments with the United States Trade Representative (USTR) August 5 in response to a request for input on a U.S. trade strategy to combat forced labor. According to the submission, a successful U.S. forced labor trade policy must assume a whole-of government approach that is multi-faceted, multilateral and risk-based in nature, focused on addressing the root causes of forced labor, including promoting rule of law in nations struggling to adopt and enforce internationally recognized labor standards.

With respect to trade policy tools, USCIB argued that USTR should leverage positive and accelerated, market incentives and market access for countries striving to tackle forced labor; provide capacity building and technical assistance to help governments struggling with compliance; and increase interagency collaboration and engagement with industry, allies, and multilateral institutions on promoting solutions to common supply chain problems. USCIB’s comments, which were built on past positions, statements, and work related to the critical topic of forced labor in supply chains, focused on both policy and technical issues, and supported the need for increased engagement with the trade community writ large.

“USCIB members condemn all forms of forced labor, and are deeply committed to preventing the use of forced labor in their supply chains,” said USCIB Director for Investment, Trade and China Alice Slayton Clark. “In fact, when they trade and invest in the global marketplace, they deploy and export responsible business practices and promote social responsibility around the world.”

For the U.S. Government’s forced labor trade strategy to be effective it must be developed considering industry perspectives and inputs.

The government must engage the trade community in partnership to support trade, investment, supply chain due diligence and compliance. They must also provide clear guidance to companies, addressing any new rules implementing forced labor eradication strategies.

“USCIB and our member companies are ready, willing and able to provide general policy as well as technical customs and trade facilitation guidance to support the effort to develop a focused trade strategy to combat forced labor,” added Clark.

Through its membership affiliation with the International Organization of Employers (IOE), USCIB holds the formal role as the U.S. employer representative at the International Labor Organization (ILO), and has long served as a leading industry voice in promoting core labor standards, bolstering human rights, and eradicating child labor and forced labor in global supply chains.

USCIB Hosts US Focused Illicit-Trade in Counterfeits Dialogue at OECD Washington Center

Left to right: David Luna (USCIB & Business at OECD), Megan Giblin (USCIB), Piotr Stryszowski (OECD)

The USCIB Anti-Illicit Trade Committee (AITC), in coordination with the Business at OECD (BIAC) Anti-Illicit Trade Expert Group (AITEG) and the OECD Task Force on Countering Illicit Trade (TF-CIT), hosted an informal U.S. focused dialogue entitled, “The challenges of illicit trade in counterfeits for e-commerce: Towards a global, voluntary standard for online marketplaces to counter illicit trade in counterfeits” on July 26 at the OECD Washington Center. According to USCIB Director for Customs and Trade Facilitation Megan Giblin, the dialogue was robust and the meeting was extremely well attended with representatives joining from both OECD member governments, the European Commission, private sector and several U.S. federal agencies, such as the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPRCenter), Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) and the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR).

According to Giblin, to address the risk of illicit trade in counterfeit goods in e-commerce, the OECD TF-CIT, in partnership with AITEG, has been carrying out a comprehensive, multi-phase project to provide additional structure, evidence, analysis and policy recommendations to inform policy-making communities about the continued challenge of counterfeits for e-commerce. Phase 1 of the project, undertaken and completed in 2021, involved a series of joint expert webinars organized between the TF-CIT and the BIAC AITEG that informed the development of a Final Report: E-Commerce Challenges in Illicit Trade in Fakes, Governance Frameworks and Best Practices. Among its conclusions, the report recommends that future work (phases) be focused on “the establishment of industry-led best practices, solutions, including the development of voluntary codes of conduct to enable online-marketplaces and other industry intermediaries and sectors to distinguish themselves with standards of excellence.” Phase 2 of the project is set to begin in Fall 2022, during which the TF-CIT will continue to collect and analyse existing industry best practices to inform the possible future development of a voluntary Code of Conduct for Online Marketplaces to Counter Illicit Trade in Counterfeits.

USCIB members were joined by key U.S. public and private sector stakeholders to discuss this project, take stock of existing U.S. anti-counterfeiting best practices, and identify possible next steps.  The TF-CIT Secretariat provided an update on the key findings from the first phase of the project and an overview of how current OECD initiatives serve as a model for this work, especially the recent development of a Certification framework and Code of Conduct for the Free Trade Zones (FTZs). Participants reviewed existing U.S. and EU best practices to counter illicit trade in counterfeits, identified knowledge gaps required to further research, tasks, milestones and deadlines associated with this project.

Building on the success from our Phase I joint E-Commerce project on the illicit trade, our members are keen to continue to actively participate in this important OECD initiative by sharing, voluntarily,  information and market data insights, best practices, and other industry perspectives to shed greater light on the booming trade of counterfeits across global supply chains and online marketplaces, and that leads towards more effective law enforcement and judicial action against criminals and fraudsters,” said David M. Luna, chair of both USCIB AITC and BIAC AITEG.

“USCIB was pleased to co-host this important informal discussion with BIAC, the OECD TF-CIT, and the OECD Washington Centre,” Luna added. “USCIB is committed to working with BIAC and OECD TF-CIT on critical PPPs, including FTZ implementation, Phase 2 E-Commerce, among others. We believe the FTZ model may serve as a general model for work in other areas, including E-Commerce and illicit trade in counterfeits.”

For more information about the USCIB Anti-Illicit Trade Committee and/or the USCIB AIT Fund, please contact Megan Giblin at mgiblin@uscib.org.

Lowry Testifies at Forced Labor Enforcement Task Force Hearing on the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act

The Forced Labor Enforcement Task Force (FLETF), as required by the Uyghur Forced labor Prevention Act (UFLPA), held a public hearing on the Use of Forced Labor in the People’s Republic of China and Measures to Prevent the Importation of Goods Produced, Mined, or Manufactured, Wholly or in Part, with Forced Labor in the People’s Republic of China into the United States. On behalf of the FLETF, the hearing was led by the Department of Homeland Security, which also issued the Federal Register Notice requesting comments on UFLPA, and coordinated and moderated by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

Over 400 participants and sixty speakers joined from a wide array of groups, including, but not limited to U.S. trade associations (including USCIB), foreign trade associations, labor organizations, other governments, victims, private citizens and even faith-based groups.

USCIB Senior Vice President, Innovation, Regulation, and Trade Brian Lowry was among those speakers and provided testimony on behalf of USCIB members to highlight that, “Business is a committed, willing, and necessary partner in the global fight to eradicate forced labor from their supply chains.”

“We believe that application of the rebuttable presumption should be coordinated under a singular approach consistent with Section 307 enforcement,” added Lowry. “CBP’s current process for the detention or release of goods believed to be linked to forced labor is opaque and undermines the very concept of partnership that CBP has historically maintained with the Trade. It fails to effectively leverage businesses’ capacity to deter the offending behavior, as well as, long held and internationally accepted principles related to transparency, stakeholder engagement and remedy.”

Lowry encouraged the FLETF to adopt USCIB’s Withhold Release Order process proposal which would improve CBP’s enforcement process; enhance compliance consistent with the requirements of Section 307; increase transparency; encourage greater collaboration with the trade community; and expedite shipment clearance.

While there will be a transcript of the event made available, Lowry’s full testimony is available here.

USCIB continues to welcome the opportunity to work with the FLETF and CBP to effectively implement the UFLPA.

USCIB Supports OECD’s Launch of Report on ‘E-Commerce Challenges in Illicit Trade in Fakes’

USCIB Anti Illicit Trade Committee (AITC) Chair David Luna, who also chairs the Business at OECD (BIAC) Anti-Illicit Trade Expert Group (AITEG), made remarks at the December 13 launch of the OECD report “E-commerce challenges in illicit trade in fakes.” The launch of the report took place at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s National IPR Coordination Center in Virginia. This important report is also the first outcome of a Special Project on illicit trade between the AITEG and the dynamic public-private partnership (PPP) established under the OECD Task Force on Countering Illicit Trade (TF-CIT).

“On behalf of Business at OECD, we are especially proud to have actively participated in the work leading up to this final report through sharing information and market data insights, best practices, and other industry perspectives to shed greater light on the booming trade of counterfeits across global supply chains and online marketplaces,” said Luna.

“We believe it is crucial to take into account the input from private sector since it ultimately contributes to gain a more detailed perspective of the adverse impacts emerging from illicit trade in e-commerce,” he added.

“USCIB is the U.S. affiliate of Business at OECD (BIAC), the industry voice of the OECD. USCIB members Pfizer, Amazon, eBay, Walmart, Nike, Walt Disney, ABinBev, PMI and The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Global Innovation Policy Canter (GIPC) have been active in the BIAC AITEG and the good work of the TF-CIT tied to COVID, e-Commerce, and more,” said Megan M. Giblin, USICB director of customs and trade facilitation, and trade policy manager for USCIB AIT work.

Luna added that many other BIAC federations and partners worked on these important thematic streams in recent years, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Luna, the report is timely given the breadth and scale of nefarious actors and criminal networks exploitation of the openness of the internet and anonymity of transactions on e-commerce to evade detection and circumvent law enforcement to distribute and trade in counterfeit and pirated goods, and other illicit goods and contraband, across the digital world. The pandemic has further accelerated illicit trade but especially across online platforms including fraudulent COVID-19 related products.

“As we learned through our series of TF-CIT webinars over the past year, COVID-19 also created unprecedented opportunities for criminals to increase their already significant illicit activities, such as counterfeit pharmaceutical products and personal protective equipment (PPE), frauds, and coronavirus-phishing scams. Illicit trade has further hampered economic development by preventing the equitable distribution of resources that provide for sustainable futures,” said Luna. “Moving forward, the AITEG remains committed to continuing our partnership with the TF-CIT on Phase 2 of the E-Commerce project including more in-depth analyses of the institutional and governance gaps exploited by criminals, and encouragement of more national assessments and country studies.”

Giblin noted that USCIB and its members look forward to continued work with the BIAC AITEG in support of the OECD TF-CIT work streams.

OECD Concludes Final Workshop on Illicit Trade in E-Commerce Series

The OECD Task Force on Countering Illicit Trade (TF-CIT) recently concluded the third and final workshop in their “Project on Illicit Trade in E-Commerce” series, focusing on the experiences of online platform operators in combatting counterfeiting. Business at OECD Anti-Illicit Trade Expert Group (AITEG) supported these workshops as part of the new public-private partnership with TF-CIT.

USCIB Anti-Illicit Trade Committee Chair David Luna, joined by, among others, USCIB members from Amazon, eBay and Walmart, used this workshop to express their concerns and ongoing approaches towards combating illicit trade, as well as, possible ways forward, including companies’ online platforms planning to make better use of Artificial Intelligence (AI), for example, with regards to improved authentication programs and a greater focus on addressing intellectual property fraud. USCIB members highlighted that to counter illicit trade more effectively, closer partnerships within the business community are essential and stressed that collaboration with public authorities, as well as business chambers and associations should be enhanced.

“As the Business at OECD AITEG Chair, I applaud our new partnership with the OECD Task Force on Countering Illicit Trade (TF-CIT),” said Luna, “and I commend our members for their commitment to work through public-private partnerships to help fight illicit trade across the digital world. Together through collective action, information-sharing, and best practices, we can proactively target today’s online nefarious actors and criminal networks involved in the trafficking in counterfeit and pirated goods.”

As this was the final workshop on illicit trade in e-commerce, the OECD TF-CIT has created a website dedicated to this project available here.

APEC Workshop Discusses COVID-19 Lessons for Customs and Trade Facilitation

In partnership with the New Zealand Customs Service, the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Sub-Committee on Customs Procedures (SCCP) held a virtual workshop as part of their recently endorsed project “Customs Response to COVID-19 Trade Recovery: Lessons Learnt and Future Opportunities.”

USCIB Director, Customs and Trade Facilitation Megan Giblin, joined by, among others, customs officials of APEC economies, as well as customs experts from the private sector and international organizations, used this workshop to examine and reflect upon trade facilitation issues during the COVID-19 pandemic including challenges, best practices and how to continue forward.

“I emphasized the work done to assist USCIB members and document the barriers they faced at international borders during COVID. I also highlighted our Customs and Trade Facilitation COVID Recommendations and core priorities in our 2021 APEC Policy Priorities Paper, which have been shared with economies and organizations,” said Giblin.  “Many of the hurdles faced during COVID could have been reduced or eliminated through robust and accelerated implementation of TFA commitments.”

Giblin also expressed the importance and helpfulness of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) communications approach with members of the trade community, from standing calls to consolidated websites, updates and intake portal to engaging directly on concerns in the COVID environment and encouraging other economies to adopt these practices, which should be seen as best practices. Additionally, Giblin applauded the approach taken by other U.S. government agencies in providing consolidated information and aiding in separating fact from rumor during this critical time.

She also continued to raise awareness on the recent WTO communication entitled, “Supporting the Timely and Efficient Release of Global Goods Through Accelerated Implementation of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement.”

“About half of the APEC economies have already become co-sponsors of the communication and USCIB encourages all others to become co-sponsors as well,” added Giblin.

USCIB Provides Input to OECD Task Force on Countering Illicit Trade

Through Business at OECD (BIAC), USCIB recently had an opportunity to contribute to an OECD Task Force on Countering Illicit Trade Plenary Meeting. During the Plenary, the Chair of BIAC’s Anti-Illicit Trade Expert Group and Chair of USCIB’s Customs and Trade Facilitation Committee, David Luna, highlighted the significant impact of illicit trade on the economy, businesses and people’s welfare. Luna also stressed the importance of collaboration among all stakeholders, including public and private, to counter the significant risks posed by illicit trade.

Luna used this platform to officially announce the launch of a new partnership program with the OECD, which seeks to strengthen public-private sector collaboration on tackling illicit trade. The partnership will commence with a special project focused on “the challenges of illicit trade for e-commerce” and will soon be followed by another project on “illicit trade in high-risk areas at the time of Covid-19.”

The partnership is also looking into launching two additional potential projects on Maritime Transports and Free Trade Zones.

USCIB Welcomes Senate’s Unanimous Confirmation Vote on USTR Tai

Photo: Bill O’Leary/The Washington Post/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Washington, D.C., March 18, 2021—The United States Council for International Business (USCIB) salutes the Senate for its unanimous vote on March 17 to confirm Katherine Tai as the next U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), believing she is a solid choice for this important cabinet-level position, bringing outstanding experience as an attorney-advisor and litigator at USTR, as Chief Trade Counsel for the House of Representatives Ways and Means Trade Subcommittee, and as an attorney in the private sector.

America’s economic growth, jobs and competitiveness, our future, depends to a considerable degree on how well we are able to engage and compete in today’s, and tomorrow’s, global economy. USTR Tai will lead America’s efforts on some very important trade and investment issues including our leadership in the World Trade Organization (WTO), updated and improved rules on digital trade, reducing foreign trade and investment barriers hurting American companies and workers, and effectively enforcing our existing network of trade agreements. Tai’s experience with Congress, as well as her expertise in trade law, the WTO and in Asia and China will serve her, and our country, very well in ​this crucial position.

“USCIB knows and respects Ms.Tai and has worked well with her in her important role at the Ways and Means Committee,” said USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson. “As an organization committed to open trade and investment flows, as well as high standards of corporate responsibility, all of us at USCIB and our member companies look forward to working with Ms.Tai to advance America’s economic interests and our shared values.”

Citi’s Senior Vice President and Managing Director of Global Government Affairs Rick Johnston, who also c​hairs the USCIB Trade and Investment Committee added, “Ms. Tai is the timely choice for this critical role as USTR at a very important an​d challenging time. Winning unanimous support from the Senate is a rare tribute to her abilities, her experience, and the respect she has earned from all quarters. The right leader at the right time for a very important job.”

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.

USCIB to Present Proposal at APEC on Fighting IP Crime, Illicit Trade

During this week’s virtual Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting of the Intellectual Property Rights Expert Group (IPEG) as part of the third Senior Officials Meeting (SOM) this year, USCIB will be presenting a proposal on October 7 on fighting intellectual property crime and illicit trade in counterfeit and pirated goods. This presentation will be given by USCIB Anti-Illicit Trade Committee (AITC) Chair David Luna of Luna Global Networks and Vice Chair Fernando Peña of DHL.

The proposal presented by Luna and Peña builds on previous groundwork in APEC on fighting illicit trade in various working groups, such as IPEG, the APEC Business Advisory Council, the Sub-Committee on Customs Procedures, and others, as well as scaling current efforts to strengthen international cooperation across economies, sectors and communities to fight illicit trade, including in established Free Trade Zones in the APEC region.

Luna and Pena will also discuss how COVID-19 further mutated criminality and IP infringement across online and e-commerce marketplaces, including through illicit trade, that is putting the health and safety of APEC citizens and communities at risk. Examples of products affected include medicines, personal protective equipment (PPE), medical supplies and fast-moving consumer goods such as food, hand-sanitizers and disinfectants.

“This has resulted in increased trade in illicit goods throughout APEC economies, which has sapped governments of vital tax revenues, inhibiting funding for pandemic response and economic recovery,” added USCIB Director for Customs and Trade Facilitation Megan Giblin. “We must continue to promote APEC’s leadership through public-private partnerships in APEC and across the Asia Pacific region and globally fight illicit trade.”