AmCham Abu Dhabi participated in a high profile Trade Mission comprised of American Chambers of Commerce from the U.A.E., Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iraq during the week of March 23 – 28, 2014. The Trade Mission focused on advocating key “Pro-Expat = Pro-Trade” policy positions in Washington, D.C. and was organized by the Middle East Council of American Chambers of Commerce (MECACC). AmCham Abu Dhabi’s Trade Mission members represented AmCham’s U.S. Public Affairs Committee, which has been conducting similar advocacy missions for the benefit of AmCham members for over 15 years.
More than two dozen MECACC and AmCham volunteers met with over 100 D.C.-based stakeholders that impact trade, investment and expatriate taxation issues, including senior Members, Chiefs of Staff and legislative aides in the U.S. Congress, U.S. Ambassadors based in the Middle East, and high-ranking Obama Administration officials.
The Trade Mission delegates argued for “Pro-Export/Pro-Job Creation” amendments to the I.R.S. Tax Code, which would enable Americans working in the Gulf Region to compete equally against nationals of other industrialized nations present in the same job market. In addition, delegates underscored the need to implement export regulation reforms that would bolster U.S. exports to the region, thereby creating jobs in the U.S.
MECACC’s Chairman H. Delano Roosevelt, who is a grandson of former U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the lead representative of the American Business Group of the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia, eloquently summarized at every opportunity possible the key policy objective underlying the Trade Mission’s agenda: “When Americans compete on a level playing field, American companies win, and create good jobs for U.S. citizens at home and abroad through increased exports in an increasingly competitive global marketplace. Our message to our leaders is simple: AMERICANS ABROAD = EXPORTS = U.S. JOB CREATION.”
While government relations experts on Capitol Hill reported the climate in Washington D.C. was not conducive to comprehensive tax reforms at the current time, AmCham representatives never the less forcefully advocated for injecting into the I.R.S. Tax Code regulations that will spike American citizens’ employment abroad, rather than inhibit it.
In referring to the delegation’s advocacy concerning individual income tax exclusion reforms – and specifically the “Foreign Earned Income Exclusion” (FEIE), Tracy Lavin, Chairperson of the AmCham Abu Dhabi Public Affairs Committee, emphasized that “Our coalition vigorously articulated the same message in every meeting with every stakeholder: competitiveness is key, and despite the current legislative gridlock, it is important for Washington keep in mind the consequences of an I.R.S. Code that puts citizens at a disadvantage versus the gains that can be realized by supporting U.S. citizens working internationally.”
Going beyond advocacy for individual tax regulation reforms, but equally related to trade promotion, was the Trade Mission’s advancement of issues surrounding trade and infrastructure standards. Arguments crafted by the coalition and conveyed to the U.S. Department of Commerce, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the Office of the United States Trade Representative, included the need for much more U.S. government focus on opposing non-tariff barriers to trade – such as arbitrary standards requirements – to prevent U.S. products from being cut out of Gulf markets.
Specifically, the Trade Mission advocated for the permanent establishment of a “NIST Negotiation Representative” to be stationed in the Gulf, whose functional role would be to participate in discussions between U.S. private sector participants and local market government officials when trade and infrastructure standards are written into law. The recommended position, with its emphasis on increased cooperation between the U.S. and Gulf Cooperation Council region trade officials, was well received by Congressional staff members, trade groups and Obama administration representatives.
A formal report regarding the Advocacy Mission’s success in Washington D.C. will be posted on the MECACC website later in the month.
For press inquiries contact:
Nour Salman, Communications Manager, AmCham Abu Dhabi at +971 2 631 3604