Robinson: NAFTA Talks an Opportunity to Modernize Agreement

As negotiations between the United States, Canada and Mexico to update the North American Free Trade Agreement got underway last week in Washington, D.C., USCIB President and CEO Peter M. Robinson was quoted in Chief Executive magazine as saying that the talks provided a valuable opportunity to update an agreement that has been in place for more than two decades.

“Negotiators can do this especially by addressing such issues as digital trade, cross-border data flows, streamlined customs processes, treatment of state-owned enterprises and regulatory coherence,” said Robinson. “But negotiators should preserve those parts of NAFTA that have worked well for U.S. business. These include the investor protection provisions, including a strong investor-state dispute settlement framework. Access to strong ISDS arbitration procedures can be especially important for smaller companies, given their greater vulnerability to costly, protracted legal battles in foreign courts.”

In June, Robinson contributed an op-ed to The Hill outlining USCIB’s goals for NAFTA modernization.

Read the entire article on Chief Executive’s website here.

Business Makes It Happen: Rethinking Collaboration for the SDGs

Gearing up for September’s United Nations General Assembly discussion of progress on the UN’s 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), USCIB has partnered with Business Fights Poverty on an ambitious program on September 18 in New York, “Rethinking Collaboration for the SDGs.”

The invitation-only event will bring together 100 senior business professionals and development partners for an inspiring and action-focused half-day event on how business, government and civil society are collaborating to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals. USCIB President and CEO Peter M. Robinson will be among the speakers. Click here to view the agenda and request an invitation.

The September 18 event is part of a week-long series of events organized by USCIB and key partners around the theme of “Business Makes It Happen,” focusing the attention of global policy makers and other key stakeholders on the importance of effective private-sector engagement and participation in achieving the SDGs.

More information on additional events coming shortly!

USCIB Discourages Regulatory Overreach in Comments to ITU

USCIB filed comments with the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) last week as part of the agency’s public consultation on policy considerations for “over the top” services, urging the ITU to avoid expanding its jurisdiction to include Internet-related issues. The public policy aspects of OTT services have been identified as a priority by several governments in the ITU. The U.S. government considers OTT services to offer a range of economic benefits, including increased consumer choice, increased use of underlying networks, and contributions to further innovation and investment.  However, other countries view OTT services as adjuncts to traditional telecommunications services, and should therefore be subject to regulation.

USCIB’s comments emphasized the importance of staying true to the ITU’s primarily technical mission in developing international telecommunication standards and allocating spectrum, and not expanding the ITU’s work program to include Internet-related issues that are well beyond its remit, core competencies, and budgetary resources. Such issues are most effectively addressed in multistakeholder forums, where policy is holistically and expertly informed by consultations among business, civil society, the technical community, and government, USCIB stated. USCIB  further highlighted the promise of innovative online services and applications for economic, developmental, and societal benefits, which will help to realize many of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

“An enabling environment for continued innovation and investment in these services is crucial,” noted USCIB Vice President Barbara Wanner. “In this regard, market-driven solutions and voluntary, industry-led standards best ensure a healthy digital ecosystem,” she said.

The ITU will consider contributions from USCIB and others at a face-to-face open consultation, which will be held in Geneva on September 18, 2017.

USCIB’s “International Business” Summer 2017 Issue

USCIB’s “International Business” Summer 2017 issue is now live!

The Summer 2017 issue features USCIB President and CEO Peter M. Robinson‘s column on “Why International Organizations Matter to Your Business” as well as articles on developments in the B20, NAFTA and the UN high level political forum and the sustainable development agenda, plus news from our global network–Business at OECD, the International Organization of Employers and the International Chamber of Commerce.

“International Business,” USCIB’s quarterly journal, provides essential insight into major trade and investment topics, a high-level overview of USCIB policy advocacy and services, USCIB member news and updates from our global business network.

Subscribe to USCIB’s International Business Magazine

Subscriptions to “International Business” are available free upon request to representatives of USCIB member organizations. Contact us to subscribe.

Non-members may subscribe to “International Business” and other USCIB print publications at an annual rate of $50 (U.S.) for domestic delivery, or $75 for overseas delivery. Contact us to subscribe. USCIB’s annual report, studies from the United States Council Foundation and related publications are included with your paid subscription.

Our free electronic newsletter, “International Business Weekly,” provides regular updates on USCIB’s major activities and priorities. Click here to view a sample issue. Click here to subscribe.

We welcome outside submissions and inquiries regarding our publications – send them to news@uscib.org.

We welcome advertising in International Business magazine — special discounted rates for USCIB member organizations! Contact Kira Yevtukhova (kyevtukhova@uscib.org) for more information.

USCIB Joins 107 Associations on NAFTA Letter on Investment

USCIB joined 107 other associations in a letter sent on August 8 to United States Trade Representative Robert E. Lighthizer and four other cabinet-level officials in the administration highlighting the importance of a strong investment chapter in the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).  The letter emphasized the need for strong enforcement provisions via an investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) system with independent expert arbiters.  The letter also offered six specific suggested changes to strengthen the current investment chapter in the NAFTA modernization negotiation set to begin August 16 in Washington.

“These provisions are highly valuable and have already helped many U.S. businesses that have faced the seizure, theft and mistreatment of investments in both Canada and Mexico. ISDS in the NAFTA has been highly beneficial to the United States,” the letter notes.

Investment, including Foreign Direct Investment, is key to driving economic growth, competitiveness, exports and jobs. Strong investment agreements, including ISDS arbitration provisions are key to effective enforcement.  The investment chapter will likely be a focus in the NAFTA update negotiations.

“We were delighted to have several USCIB member sectoral associations join us in signing the letter along with a broad coalition of national and state business groups,” said Shaun Donnelly, USCIB’s vice president for trade and financial services.

USCIB in the News: Bloomberg Covers USCIB Work on Labor

White HouseAs the White House continues to discuss appropriations, the union umbrella group AFL-CIO, in partnership with USCIB, is targeting the Senate in search of a bipartisan group of lawmakers to champion the Department of Labor’s (DOL) Bureau of International Labor Affairs, as reported by Bloomberg BNA. This comes during discussions between the White House and a House appropriations panel to eliminate a grant program designed to eradicate labor abuses overseas.

“I think that type of outreach can only help bring attention, with leading U.S. business speaking up and engaging directly, it can only help,” said Gabriella Rigg Herzog, USCIB’s vice president for corporate responsibility and labor affairs, as quoted by Bloomberg BNA. “USCIB will continue to speak out on this matter and seek ways to bring attention to this.”

USCIB CEO and President Peter Robinson also met with Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta earlier this year about the importance of a fully funded ILAB. Additionally, USCIB submitted a joint letter with AFL-CIO earlier this year to the House Committee on Appropriations to continue funding ILAB’s and the Department of State’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor’s grants and programs.

To read the full article on Bloomberg BNA, click here. Please note, Bloomberg BNA is available via subscription.

USCIB Gears Up for APEC Meetings in Vietnam

USCIB members are continuing to make the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) a priority forum in which to engage, as it is key to accelerating regional economic integration as well as promoting balanced, inclusive, sustainable, innovative and secure growth.

To aid private sector engagement, USCIB works with the U.S. APEC business coalition to meet with APEC officials and participate in APEC meetings throughout the year, culminating in the APEC CEO Summit, a meeting of CEOs and leaders from the APEC economies.

To direct and facilitate the work with our members and APEC officials, USCIB has compiled its annual priority issues and recommendations paper, which can be found here. As can be seen in our priorities, USCIB is actively engaged in a number of the APEC issue areas and working groups related to ICT, Chemicals and, Customs and Trade Facilitation.

Two of USCIB’s policy team will be attending the third APEC Senior Officials Meeting and related meetings (SOM 3) in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, held August 15-30.

Megan Giblin, USCIB’s director for Customs and Trade Facilitation will be participating in the APEC Business – Customs Dialogue (ABCD), the APEC Alliance for Supply Chain Connectivity (A2C2) meeting,  moderating the “Streamlining Processes: Addressing Challenges from the Private Sector” panel and speaking on the “Single Window to Facilitate Trade and Economic Competitiveness” panel during the APEC Workshop on Single Windows (e.g., in U.S. ACE), moderating the WTO Trade Facilitation panel “Focus on Transparency: The WTO TFA” during the 2017 APEC Conference on Good Regulatory Practice (GRP), and working with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (U.S. CBP) to present a case study tied to TFA implication during the GRP event. USCIB worked closely with both U.S. CBP and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative to secure industry speakers and participation for the GRP and Single Window events.

During the closed meeting of the APEC Sub-Committee on Customs Procedures, Giblin will provide an update on the Customs – Chemical Dialogue project. The deliverable for this meeting is delivery of an analysis of country survey results, including common practices at the customs border regarding treatment of industrial chemicals.

Giblin will continue to establish and foster relationships with customs officials from APEC economies as well as members of industry, identifying linkages to the work underway within the USCIB Customs and Trade Facilitation Committee, including, but not limited to, e-commerce, de minimis, and single-window efforts.

The decision was taken earlier this year at SOM 1 to reduce duplication and streamline working groups, to integrate the SCCP Virtual Working Group with the A2C2 given the level of issue overlap. Moving forward the A2C2 will bring together members of the private sector as well as among other departments or agencies, customs officials, from the APEC member economies. Giblin is a member of the A2C2, which is focused on capacity-building efforts and the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement and its implementation.

“Given the expanded scope of the A2C2 as well as the fact that many of our members are part of the A2C2, I will continue to consider ways to increase industry visibility, engagement and potentially reduce duplicative industry resource or input requests,” noted Giblin.

Giblin will also attend the APEC Chemical Dialogue (CD) meetings on behalf of Mike Michener, USCIB’s vice president of Product Policy and Innovation, to support USCIB members attending the CD-related meetings. The CD serves as a forum for regulatory officials and industry representatives to find solutions to challenges facing the chemical industry in the Asia-Pacific region. It reflects APEC members’ recognition of the importance of engaging with the private sector and building public-private sector dialogue and cooperation for mutual benefit. USCIB members have found this Forum a valuable place to promote their regional business priorities.

Barbara Wanner, USCIB vice president for ICT policy, also will attend the SOM 3 meetings. In particular, Wanner will participate in a special “APEC Public-Private Dialogue on Facilitating MSMEs to Adopt Cross Border E-Commerce,” jointly organized by the Electronic Commerce Steering Group (ECSG) and the Committee on Trade and Investment (CTI), August 18-19. In addition, Wanner will represent member interests at meetings of the ECSG and Data Privacy Subgroup (DPS), August 20-23.  Finally, Wanner will serve as a business observer at the APEC Advertising Standards Conference, August 24.

The Public-Private Dialogue is aimed encouraging greater MSME participation in cross-border e-commerce in the APEC region and beyond. The two-day workshop will focus on sharing information with MSMEs about trade promoting elements of the e-commerce chapters of Regional Trade Agreements (RTAs), such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). It also will educate MSMEs on the trade facilitating benefits of certification under APEC’s Cross-Border Privacy Rules (CBPR) system. USCIB has been a long-time supporter of the CBPR, viewing it as a foundation to promote high-level privacy standards while ensuring seamless flows of business information through the APEC region. USCIB members Apple, Cisco, Hewlett Packard Enterprise Company, HP, IBM, and Merck are CBPR-certified.

The DPS meetings likely will feature discussion about the recent approval of South Korea as a CBPR-certified economy – making it the fifth APEC economy in the CBPR system, joining Canada, Japan, Mexico, and the United States. The DPS also will include a special session with representatives of the European Commission and Article 29 Working Party aimed at pursuing greater interoperability between the APEC CBPR and the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) before the latter goes into effect in May 2018. An ECSG draft Strategic Plan, which was tabled by the U.S. Government earlier this year, likely will receive continued focus in the ECSG meetings.

SOM 3 will also include a Workshop on Advertising Self-Regulation. Through participation by USCIB members and ICC representatives at the workshop, USCIB is lending support to the efforts to improve advertising standards throughout the APEC region, and providing input to APEC economies on the use of regulation and self-regulation, including the ICC Marketing Code. The Advertising Standards Conference will devote a session to regulating and monitoring digital advertising, which is expected to include speakers from Google and ICC.

If you would like any further information on the above meetings or issues, please feel free to reach out to our team.

Advertising: Jonathan Huneke, jhuneke@uscib.org

Customs and Trade Facilitation: Megan Giblin, mgiblin@uscib.org

Chemicals: Michael Michener, mmichener@uscib.org

ICT and Data Privacy: Barbara Wanner, bwanner@uscib.org

APEC priorities: Elizabeth Kim, ekim@uscib.org

USCIB’s Global Impact: 2017 Update on Advocacy

Welcome to USCIB’s Global Impact – an update on USCIB’s advocacy activities around the world in support of your interests. USCIB was at the table, along with many of our members, at key international deliberations– all for the express purpose of ensuring that the voice of U.S. business is heard where policies and regulations affecting your bottom line are determined.

Download Global Impact

At a Glance

USCIB President and CEO Out Front for American Business: USCIB President & CEO, Peter Robinson’s leadership at the B20 and OECD Week.

Keeping Markets Open for U.S. Business: With uncertainty regarding trade agreements due to political developments at home and abroad, one thing remains certain: international markets need to be open for U.S. companies. USCIB was on the ground meeting with officials from the OECD and WTO pressing for strong investment agreements and the removal of trade barriers, all in support of U.S. jobs.

Advocating for a Continued Open and Dynamic Internet: Cross-border trade in digital goods and services has grown 45-fold over the past decade. USCIB was at ICANN and the OECD advocating for policies that do not hamper innovation and that allow the Internet and broader digital economy to realize the tremendous potential to create economic opportunity and address social challenges.

Safeguarding the Role of Business in Environment and Climate Change Policy: An increasing number of multilateral organizations are considering proposals to keep business out of policy deliberations where decisions are being made that impact U.S. business bottom lines. This is particularly prevalent in the UN environmental space. USCIB was on the front lines at UNEP and the UNFCCC pushing back against these efforts as private sector involvement is critical to the success in solving the very problems that these UN agencies seek to address.

Making International Taxation Rules Predictable for Business: New global tax rules have been developed under the OECD’s Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) Action Plan. Now, the focus is on BEPS implementation and opportunities to improve tax certainty remain. USCIB met with OECD and other government officials urging them to consider the need for a predictable fiscal environment that will protect and encourage cross-border trade and investment in the context of implementing these BEPS recommendations.

Working to Reduce Trade Barriers: Unnecessary and burdensome barriers to trade can cost companies and national economies billions of dollars. The WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA), which entered into force earlier this year, promises to boost global trade flows by over $1 trillion and generate opportunities for easier, less costly cross-border trade. USCIB crossed the globe pushing for global modernization of customs laws, regulations, processes and day-to-day practices are necessary for efficient supply chains.

Leadership at the ILO and more…
Review USCIB’s engagement at the ILO’s International Labor Conference and the ICC Marketing & Advertising Commission.

Upcoming USCIB Representation around the World to be Covered in the Next Global Impact
APEC SOM 3 Meetings – Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam; August, 2017

WCO Harmonized System Committee (HSC) Meeting – Brussels, Belgium; November, 2017

APEC CEO Summit – Da Nang, Vietnam; November, 2017

ICC Customs & Trade Facilitation Commission Meeting – Paris, France; November, 2017

UNFCCC COP23 – Bonn, German; November, 2017

WTO Ministerial – Buenos Aires, Argentina; December, 2017

UNEA3 – Nairobi, Kenya; December, 2017

USCIB Urges Senate to Confirm Trump Administration Nominees

USCIB is among approximately 90 American business and industry associations to have signed a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, urging the Senate to take expeditious steps to ensure the timely confirmation of qualified pending nominees to administration positions.

“The slow pace of confirmations is depriving agencies across the government of critical leadership and in the case of independent agencies, the quorum necessary to conduct critical business,” reads the letter.

Additionally, it notes: “The breakdown of the confirmation process results in a breakdown in the efficient and effective functioning of government and ultimately to a drag on the economy. Workers are sidelined as projects await permits from agencies that lack the quorum necessary to issue the permit. Businesses are left waiting for important administrative decisions that simply cannot be made in the absence of Senate-confirmed officials.”

To date, among President Donald Trump’s 283 executive and judicial nominations, only 67 have been confirmed. Of those 67, only 13 were confirmed by voice vote or unanimous consent, while 37 (55%) were confirmed only after going through the cloture process. By way of comparison, at approximately the same point in President Obama’s first term, the Senate had confirmed 206 nominees, 182 by voice vote or unanimous consent.

The full letter, along with the list of signatories, can be found here.

Donnelly Offers Ambassador’s Perspective in Commerce Training Session

Shaun Donnelly

USCIB Vice President for Trade and Financial Services, and retired U.S. Ambassador, Shaun Donnelly offered an ambassador’s perspective on effective embassy commercial work on behalf of U.S. companies overseas to a group of new Foreign Commercial Service (FCS) officers at the U.S. Department of Commerce last week.

During the August 1 session at the Commerce Department’s Commercial Diplomacy Institute, Donnelly joined with former FCS Director General and retired Ambassador Chuck Ford to share perspectives, experiences, best practices and even a few war stories, on what makes U.S. embassies effective in promoting U.S. commercial interests overseas.

One key message Donnelly and Ford both emphasized is the importance of close cooperation around the embassy, especially between FSC and State economic sections plus active involvement from the Ambassador and the rest of the Embassy team.

The new FCS officers are headed to assignments as commercial attaches in U.S. embassies and consulates in China, Mexico, Nigeria, and (perhaps, given recent developments) Russia, as well as in U.S. Export Assistance Centers or “USEACs” around the U.S.

“It’s encouraging that the Commerce Department, despite budget uncertainties, is pressing ahead to recruit and train the much-needed next generation of FSC staff,” noted Donnelly.

Donnelly and Ford are used to collaborating; they worked together often in their long U.S. government careers and recently co-authored two “Support for American Jobs” reports on commercial diplomacy for the American Academy of Diplomacy.