USCIB Joined Multi-Association Letter Opposing Expansion of WTO TRIPS Waiver 

USCIB co-signed a multi-association letter to the Biden Administration at the end of February strongly opposing the proposed expansion of the WTO TRIPS waiver to cover COVID-19 diagnostics and therapeutics. The letter was addressed to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, USTR Katherine Tai, Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo and White House Chief of Staff Jeffrey Zients.  

The letter advanced the same arguments USCIB made in its submission last year to the U.S. International Trade Commission (Investigation No. 332-596) on the TRIPS waiver extension: the extension would undermine innovation, global health security as well as research and development for products that are fundamental to fighting global crises. USCIB was deeply disappointed with the TRIPS waiver for COVID-19 vaccines announced at the WTO in June 2022. Extending the waiver to diagnostics and therapeutics would further erode international rule of law.

As such, USCIB welcomed the outcome at the 13th WTO Ministerial Conference in Abu Dhabi last week to table this proposal.  

For nearly 30 years, the WTO TRIPS Agreement has served its role well in providing the global legal architecture for supporting and driving innovation,” said USCIB Senior Vice President for Trade, Investment and Digital Policy Alice Slayton Clark. “The waiver extension would have represented a virtual death knell not only for the pharmaceutical industry but also for innovative industry writ large.” 


The 13th WTO Ministerial Conference Falls Short But Delivers Some Wins for Industry

Renewal of e-commerce moratorium and intellectual property rights secured

New York, N.Y., March 04, 2024—The United States Council for International Business (USCIB) welcomes outcomes from the WTO 13th Ministerial Conference in Abu Dhabi on two key objectives for U.S. industry: a two-year extension of the moratorium on customs duties on electronic transmissions and a rejection of efforts to waive intellectual property protections for COVID-19 diagnostics and therapeutics.

“If the moratorium had expired it would have been an historic setback, representing an unprecedented termination of a multilateral agreement that has allowed the digital economy to take root and grow over the past 25 years,” said President and CEO Whitney Baird who represented USCIB at the ministerial last week. “USCIB is similarly pleased that the WTO failed to extend a TRIPS waiver to diagnostics and therapeutics, a move that would have undermined innovative industries, global health security and international rule of law.”

Another positive outcome, according to Baird, 72 nations officially adopted the Joint Statement Initiative on Services Domestic Regulation, simplifying rules for over 90 percent of the world’s trade in services. USCIB joined the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), for which it serves as the U.S. national committee, in welcoming the move. The agreement text had been concluded in December 2021. USCIB also hails progress at the WTO mapping out linkages and exploring best practices in consultation with industry on trade related aspects of circularity, climate, plastics and other policies aimed at advancing sustainability goals.

The outcomes in Abu Dhabi were mixed, however. USCIB is disappointed that MC13 failed to deliver agreements on agriculture, dispute settlement and fisheries, adding uncertainty to a multilateral trading system already under intense strain. “USCIB looks forward to working with the WTO to deliver outcomes in these sectors favorable to U.S. industry,” said Baird. “As the cornerstone for open, fair and reliable global trade, the WTO is too important to industry to fail.”

USCIB was on the ground in Abu Dhabi with a strong showing of member companies and the ICC, promoting robust digital and innovation safeguards, U.S. leadership on disciplines for sustainable trade, and enhanced roles for plurilateral negotiations and stakeholder engagement at the WTO.

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 the economy, with operations in every region of the world, generating $5 trillion in annual revenues and employing over 11 million workers worldwide. As the U.S. affiliate to several leading international business organizations, including the ICC, USCIB provides business views to policy makers and regulatory authorities worldwide and works to facilitate international trade and development. More at

USCIB Provides Comments on China’s WTO Compliance, Urges Customs Reform, IP Protection and Open Market Access

USCIB submitted comments on September 20 to the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) regarding China’s WTO compliance with its World Trade Organization commitments. The submission raised a variety of concerns, including shortcomings with respect to intellectual property (IP) protection, trade facilitation, and market access.

The report notes that although China has improved many of its key IP laws since acceding to the WTO, there is a continued need to pressure China to comply with the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) standards. According to USCIB, China provides inadequate criminal liability for copyright offenses and establishes inadequate thresholds for making a copyright case.

The submission also focuses on sectoral issues, such as agriculture and grain exports, high levels of piracy in the audiovisual sector and a lack of openness in the Chinese telecommunications market. For example, China’s Telecom Services Catalog incorrectly classifies a wide range of ICT technologies and services as telecom services, and there is increased scrutiny over China’s Cybersecurity Law. The comments put pressure on the U.S. government to address these key areas for global commerce, trade facilitation and security.

Echoing USCIB’s 2022 submission regarding China’s WTO compliance to USTR, the comments continue to voice concern over the Section 301 tariffs imposed against Chinese imports.

“USCIB condemns the unfair Chinese practices identified under the Section 301 investigations, including forced technology transfer requirements, intellectual property infringements, state interventions, and other unfair trade practices that harm U.S. companies, workers, consumers, and competitiveness. While we remain wholly committed to U.S. efforts to confront unfair trade practices, we are concerned that the Section 301 tariffs imposed against Chinese imports have done more harm than good, raising the cost of doing business in the United States and increased prices for U.S. families and workers,” said USCIB Vice President for International Investment and Trade Policy Alice Slayton Clark.

“China remains an important player on the world stage, and although cooperation can be challenging, we must continue to push for transparency and open market access,” she added. “Ensuring that China remains compliant with WTO regulations by bilaterally addressing challenges must remain a priority for the United States.”

USCIB Files Submission With FTC on Non-Compete Clauses in Employment Contracts

USCIB filed a submission with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) April 19, opposing its proposed rule to ban employers from utilizing non-compete clauses in employment contracts, a practice that violates Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act, according to the FTC.

USCIB’s submission argues not only that the FTC lacks rule-making authority to even issue the proposal, but the proposed rule makes improper assumptions regarding the applicability of state law versus a federal blanket ban and that trade secrets safeguards serve as a substitute for non-competes. The proposed rule would ban non-competes for high income workers or workers with access to confidential information, which is a an essential tool for companies to protect intellectual property, trade secrets and other confidential information. The submission makes the strong case that non-competes should continue to be allowed on a case dependent basis.

“USCIB challenges the lack of evidence and methodologies used to support the FTC’s proposed rulemaking on non-competes clauses and is alarmed about the deleterious impacts a blanket ban would have on U.S. industries,” said USCIB Vice President for International Investment and Trade Policy Alice Slayton Clark. “Not only does it break with longstanding legal precedent such as the consumer welfare standard and fact-specific inquiry, but it will irreparably harm U.S. companies that rely on non-competes to safeguard intellectual property rights and trade secrets.”

The FTC has received over 15,000 comments on its proposal, showing the broad impact it would have on companies and workers.  To read the full submission, click here.

Intellectual Property

Trends and Challenges Facing U.S. Business:

  • Intellectual property is one of the central public policy pillars for the rapidly changing knowledge-based 21st century economy
  • Intellectual property rights provide an increasingly critical legal and policy toolkit for spurring innovation, stimulating the investments needed to develop and market new innovations, creating jobs and disseminating technology and knowledge in socially beneficial ways
L-R: John Sandage (WIPO) and Paul Salmon (USPTO) at the October 18 launch of USCIB’s Intellectual Property and Innovation Committee

USCIB’s Response:

  • Promote strong global rules to protect U.S. intellectual property
  • Advocate for IP language in trade agreements that establishes a robust and effective intellectual property framework to promote innovation
  • Protect from disclosure commercially sensitive and propriety information and documents required by governments under law or regulation

Magnifying Your Voice with USCIB:

  • USCIB is the only U.S. business association formally affiliated with the world’s three largest business organizations where we work with business leaders across the globe to extend our reach to influence policymakers in key international markets to American business
  • Build consensus with like-minded industry peers and participate in off-the-record briefings with policymakers both home and abroad.

USCIB on LinkedIn




Brian Lowry
Senior Counsel
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Ashley Harrington
Policy and Program Assistant
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ICC Appoints New Chair of Commission on Global Intellectual Property

Vishal Amin

The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) has appointed a new Chair for the ICC Global Intellectual Property Commission — Vishal Amin, who had previously served as vice chair of the commission.

Amin is currently Head of Intellectual Property Policy at USCIB member company Intel Corporation. He is an experienced executive leader and a globally-recognized expert on IP, trade and tech law and policy. For nearly twenty years, Amin has been at the center of U.S. federal intellectual property law and policy. In 2017, Amin was nominated by the President of the United States, and confirmed unanimously by the U.S. Senate, to serve as the White House Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator or “IP Czar”. In this key role, he directed U.S. IP Diplomacy, coordinated key policies among Cabinet departments, and advocated for IP interests in the U.S. and abroad.

Earlier in his career, Amin served as Senior Counsel to the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary, and held positions at the U.S. Department of Commerce and the White House. During his service in Congress and under two Presidential Administrations, he wrote and helped enact major legislation in nearly all areas of intellectual property law, shaping the United States’ modern IP system to protect and grow entrepreneurship. Amin holds a bachelor’s degree in neuroscience from Johns Hopkins University and a law degree from Washington University in St. Louis.

A message from the ICC Commission Chair

Dear members of the ICC Global IP Commission,

Private sector innovation is the cornerstone of the global economy and will be necessary to solve the world’s most pressing challenges. At the same time, the success of individual businesses has never been more dependent on an interconnected global network of supply chains and the fair and open exchange of ideas. In this often unstable and uncertain worldwide innovation ecosystem, the global business community must be united in its advocacy for productive IP systems that promote innovation through stability, transparency, and collaboration.

As the leading voice for global business, ICC plays a key role in both giving businesses of all sizes the tools they need to grow and thrive and bring their perspective to policy discussions. ICC recognizes not only the importance of IP as a positive force for society, but also the necessity that it be protected from piracy, counterfeiting, trade secret theft, and litigation abuses. I’ve spent my career in the United States Federal Government and in the private sector advocating for IP systems that work for innovators, creators, and entrepreneurs and developing IP policy that helps groundbreaking ideas become a reality. I look forward to continuing this work as Chair of the ICC Global IP Commission.

Chairs of an ICC Commission are appointed for a period of three-years by the ICC Secretary General, renewable once. As Chair of the ICC Global IP Commission from January 2023 Amin will work closely with ICC Secretariat, and the members of this commission, to provide strategic leadership to our work, as well as chair meetings of the commission and ensure that ICC can be effective in bringing the voice of business to policy discussions on IP and innovation.

Amin is taking on this role after the successful leadership of Ingrid Baele, who steered the work of this commission for two full terms.

USCIB Urges Biden Administration to Oppose Extending TRIPS Waiver to COVID Diagnostics, Therapeutics

USCIB is urging the Biden Administration to oppose current efforts at the World Trade Organization (WTO) to extend a waiver of rules under the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement to COVID-19 diagnostics and therapeutics. USCIB remains disappointed with the TRIPS waiver for COVID-19 vaccines announced at the 12th Ministerial Conference of the WTO in June; it is staunchly opposed to extending the waiver to COVID-19 therapeutics and diagnostics.

Rules under the TRIPS Agreement are being challenged today by nations seeking to leverage the pandemic to gain unfettered access to competitively sensitive, proprietary biopharmaceutical manufacturing technology. In a letter to senior Administration officials dated September 12, USCIB contends that the TRIPS agreement provides ample flexibility to address disparities in access to medicines and treatments; the real problem is insufficient healthcare infrastructure and distribution systems necessary to distribute and adminster vaccines and medicines to remote populations around the globe, as well as residual vaccine hesitancy.  “Extension of the TRIPS waivers is a solution in search of a problem, undermining innovation, global health security, international rule of law, and faith in the global trading system,” argued USCIB Senior Vice President for Innovation, Regulation and Trade Brian Lowry.

USCIB further asserts that “it took decades studying coronaviruses and developing messenger RNA (“mRNA”) technologies to lay the foundation for the highly effective COVID-19 vaccines and other medicines of today. These revolutionary innovations, developed at unprecedented speed and scale, were fueled by global rules that protect IP which provide companies with confidence to undertake high-risk ventures over extended timelines.”  No nation has more to lose from weakened intellectual property rules than the United States, which leads the world in biopharmaceutical and technological research, Lowry stressed.

The letter was addressed to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo, United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs at the National Security Council Jacob Sullivan, Director of the National Economic Council Brian Deese, Coordinator of the COVID-19 Response and Counselor to the President Ashish Jha and Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Kathi Vidal.

Temperatures Soared in Geneva and So Did the WTO!

Washington D.C., June 17, 2022—Despite a shaky start, the WTO negotiators delivered a historic trade deal this morning. After hours of negotiations, the 164-country organization adopted the “Geneva Package” with commitments on some very difficult issues, including pandemic response, intellectual property, fisheries, food security, electronic commerce and institutional reform.

For many, this Ministerial was about the continued viability of the WTO. Recent struggles caused by increased protectionism and previous Ministerial Conferences that created few – if any – outcomes, raised serious questions about the rules-based trading system that grew out of the GATT in 1995. Concerns have ranged from relevance to functionality to value.

The WTO adoption of a ministerial decision to waive intellectual property rights on COVID-19 vaccines raises serious questions and presents a number of risks. This waiver under the WTO TRIPs Agreement will not solve vaccine access issues but, rather, it brings dangerous implications on incentives for innovation for future health challenges and future pandemic preparedness and response.  As disappointing and counter-productive as this decision is, business continues to work to advance vaccine literacy and fight COVID-19.

The Ministerial Statement on WTO Reform has charted a path forward for the trade body that is expected to address longstanding concerns and set a process for discussions on how the WTO can be reformed to be fit for purpose.

The “Geneva Package” covers a range of topics. A group of Ministerial Declarations was adopted on WTO response to emergencies covering food insecurity; export prohibitions on World Food Programme food purchases; and WTO pandemic response and preparedness.

A partial deal to curb fishing subsidies was reached; however, it fell short of a fuller agreement that has been under negotiation for more than 20 years. The agreement addresses rules to prohibit subsidies for illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, while action on subsidies for fuel, ship construction and other areas was left unresolved.

Negotiators wrestled to address divergent views on the continuation of a moratorium on customs duties on electronic transmissions that has been in place since 1998 but was set to expire at the end of the ministerial. A handful of countries challenged the benefits of the digital economy for the developing world, seeking to end the moratorium, gain policy space to address the digital divide and collect needed customs revenues. Ultimately, delegates agreed to an extension of the moratorium with a commitment to study development impacts and revisit the issue at the next Ministerial Conference.

“USCIB congratulates WTO Director General Ngozi and all participants in MC12 for proving that multilateralism is alive and still functional in Geneva,” said Brian Lowry, USCIB Senior Vice President, who is reporting from Geneva at the ministerial meeting as an NGO delegate.

Several concerns about agriculture went without resolution. “The lack of a declaration on these concerns was a disappointment to some but the overall success of MC12 is noteworthy,” said Lowry.

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. USCIB is the U.S. affiliate of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), the International Organization of Employers (IOE) and Business at OECD. More at

USCIB Promotes World IP Day; Encourages Members to Vote in Youth Video Competition

Photo credit: WIPO

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is hosting their annual World Intellectual Property Day on April 26 with a focus on youth. The official theme, “IP and Youth Innovating for a Better Future,” recognizes the incredible and untapped potential of young people’s ingenuity and creativity which can drive the change the world needs to move to a more sustainable footing.

According to WIPO, IP Day 2022 is an opportunity for young people to find out how IP rights can support their goals, help transform their ideas into reality, generate income, create jobs and make a positive impact on the world around them. WIPO has been working with its member states and partners to create a legal and policy environment for young inventors, creators and entrepreneurs to thrive.

WIPO has also invited the public to vote on a youth video competition. The videos will demonstrate how young people perceive innovation and IP for a better future. Youth from sixty-three countries have submitted videos. Online public voting closes on April 22.

“Young people are the future and we must support them,” said USCIB Senior Vice President for Innovation, Regulation and Trade Brian Lowry. “We look forward to IP Day where we can better explore and understand how young people have been driving change.”

USCIB Leads Business Policy Roundtable as Part of Brazil’s Accession to OECD 

The Brazil OECD Business Policy Roundtable brought together U.S. and Brazilian government officials, the OECD and industry representatives in early November to discuss taxation reform and best practices as Brazil seeks to accede to the OECD.  According to USCIB Director for Investment, Trade and China Alice Slayton Clark, this is the latest of the several forums held by the Brazil Roundtable to explore changes to policy and practice – in line with OECD standards and best practices – that benefit businesses and employees while driving inclusive economic growth in Brazil.

Isaias Coelho, special advisor to Brazil’s Ministry of Economy, and Sandro de Vargas Serpa, undersecretary of Taxation and Litigation at the Federal Revenue of Brazil (RFB), detailed the regulations and legislative proposals under consideration that would simplify taxes at the state, federal and municipal levels, reforming consumption, income and international taxation practices.

“Brazil is currently undertaking significant regulatory reforms consistent with OECD guidelines including Recommendations of the Council on Regulatory Policy and Governance,” said Coelho. The ultimate hope, according to Mario Sergio Carraro Telles, executive manager of Economics for the Brazil Industry Association, is to adopt laws that simplify the tax system and reduce costs and uncertainty for companies.

Brazil has been working since 2018 in a dialogue with OECD on transfer pricing, which has evolved into a project aimed at aligning the existing transfer pricing regime with the OECD standard.  This joint project was made possible with the support of UK Prosperity Fund and other OECD countries who share their experience and best practices with Brazil. The United States has bolstered this process through technical assistance and training, asserted John Hughes, director of Advanced Pricing and Mutual Agreement Program of the U.S. Internal Revenue Service.

According to OECD Senior Advisor Tomas Balco, current policies in Brazil end up double taxing multinationals, deterring foreign investment and preventing Brazil from participating fully in global value chains. Luiz de Medeiros, Brazil country manager for IBM and a USCIB member, provided details from an industry perspective, expressing “great hope” that Brazil laws can be aligned with OECD norms.  Toward that end, Flávio Antônio Gonçalves Martins Araújo, head of the International Relations Office at RFB, reported that Brazil Administration currently is working on a legislative proposal to submit to Congress and start a political discussion in 2022 on a new transfer pricing law.

“It is clear from the speakers that the mood is right for reform in Brazil, and efforts are being made despite the economic challenges posed by the pandemic,” said Clark. “We hope these roundtables can inform and inspire in that regard, offering solutions for change that ease the economic burden for all.”

USCIB led the meeting, along with cohorts from the Brazil-U.S. Business Council of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Brazil’s National Industry Confederation (CNI). As the official U.S. representative to Business at OECD (BIAC), USCIB has been actively monitoring Brazil’s accession request to the OECD in order to advance business interest.

Additional roundtable discussions will be held throughout 2022, covering investment and trade, environment and sustainable development, as well as innovation and intellectual property.  Digital and regulatory issues were discussed earlier this year.