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.

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.

USCIB Op-ed: NAFTA 2.0 Needs to Protect Investment

USCIB’s Vice President for Investment and Financial Services Shaun Donnelly along with its Director for Investment, Trade and Financial Services Eva Hampl recently contributed an op-ed in The Hill titled, “NAFTA 2.0 needs to enshrine investor protections.”

As the Trump administration gears up to update the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) later this month, Hampl and Donnelly evaluate the Trump administration’s negotiating objectives, which were released last month.

“Overall, the administration’s “NAFTA 2.0” wish-list is solid. Some commentators have noted the irony of including so many goals that were essentially attained in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, an agreement President Trump withdrew from on his third day in office,” they write. However, one of the more crucial objectives, mainly investor protection under the agreement’s Chapter 11 are not included.

“These provisions, which allow U.S. investors both small and large to seek compensation for unfair, discriminatory or inequitable treatment at the hands of foreign governments, are based on bedrock principles embedded in our own Constitution prohibiting abusive government treatment and the taking of private property without just compensation. Without this provision, domestic courts become the only legal recourse for a wronged investor. While Mexico has made great strides in many respects, its court system is still far from impartial. Indeed, miscarriages of justice can happen in any country, including advanced democracies like the United States and Canada,” they noted.

Please visit The Hill for the whole op-ed.

ATA Carnets Paper Processing Moves Into the 21st Century

The World Customs Organization (WCO) has endorsed the launching of a pilot in 2018 of a digital ATA Carnet process! The eCarnet working group of the International Chamber of Commerce/World Chambers Federation (ICC/WCF) provided an update on the electronic Carnet (eCarnet) developments to the WCO’s eATA Carnet Working Group.

The group met at WCO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium on June 30.  The ICC/WCF advised it is moving, on schedule, into phase three of creating a digitized ATA Carnet system.  There will be a pilot project launched in 2018 to test the system and processes for an eCarnet.

ICC/WCF showcased its recently developed Mercury system, a centralized database system of key ATA Carnet data.  A digitized ATA Carnet will facilitate transactions, increase data security, reduce exceptions and improve administration.  Customs, Carnet holders, service providers and national guaranteeing associations, such as USCIB, will be more productive with a modernized export/import process for items moving under an ATA Carnet. More than 15 nations and the European Union expressed their support and welcomed this initiative.  Some countries displayed an eagerness to join the pilot project.

USCIB’s Andy Shiles attends the WCO meetings in Brussels, Belgium

Andrew Shiles, USCIB’s new senior vice president of ATA Carnets and Trade Services, attended the WCO meeting and emphasized the large scale of business opportunities that ATA Carnets can provide for both small and large American enterprises. “It is exciting to be involved in such a dynamic time in the ATA Carnet industry,” said Shiles, adding that “We are truly making history by moving the ATA Carnet processes into the 21st century.  This means that billions of dollars worth of goods will move through efficient eATA Carnet processes resulting in jobs being created.”

The ATA Carnets are used by thousands of exporters around the world to get goods through customs quickly and easily. While the ATA Carnet is currently in force in 77 countries, Shiles is striving to see an expansion of even more countries.

ATA Carnets are internationally recognized customs documents that permit temporary duty-free, tax-free entry of qualified goods for up to one year. They are used widely to facilitate entry of goods for trade shows, product samples and professional equipment. “Astute business people utilize the unique tool of an ATA Carnet to promote their goods internationally where they can generate incremental sales, reduce handling costs and protect a company’s cash flow when it comes to international transportation,” noted Shiles.  “In fact, a company dealing with international sales may be missing out on a great opportunity if they if they are not using carnets,” he warned.

USCIB manages and guarantees the ATA Carnet system in the United States, with responsibility for issuing ATA Carnets falling to two outside service providers, Roanoke Trade and the Corporation for International Business. ATA Carnets are accepted in 77 countries and territories, while the global ATA systems are overseen by the WCO and the ICC. USCIB serves as ICC’s U.S. national guaranteeing association. For more information on ATA Carnets and the benefits they can provide for your business, please visit USCIB’s website.

USCIB Highlights Business Role at UN Sustainable Development Meetings

ICC Secretary General John Danilovich opens the UN SDG Business Forum

The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) were created to measure progress and achievements towards a sustainable future through a series of 17 goals adopted by the UN General Assembly under the moniker Agenda 2030.  During this year’s annual UN High-Level Political Forum, held from July 10 – 19 at UN headquarters in New York, the UN Secretariat worked with member states to discuss paths to implementation and to track progress on the SDGs. USCIB and its members were on the ground during the HLPF highlighting the role of engaging all business sectors to advancing environmental, economic and social cooperation for the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

USCIB Vice President for Product Policy and Innovation Mike Michener supported USCIB’s longtime partner, the International Agri-Food Network (IAFN), on their event focusing on SDG2, Ending Hunger, during their side-event, Agriculture and Food Day on July 13. IAFN partnered with leading organizations to host this event to celebrate, discuss, negotiate, analyze, and brainstorm around the role of the agricultural and food sector in relation to the implementation of the SDGs. Agriculture and Food Day summarized the importance of targeting the agricultural sector and food issues to reach the SDGs by 2030. IAFN has been a consistent champion for a stand-alone goal on sustainable agriculture and food security.

However, “solutions cannot address just one goal, but must look to make a difference to several at once,” noted Michener.  “The purpose of Agriculture and Food Day was to examine how focusing on agricultural and food policy could achieve not only Goal 2 but make substantive contributions to the achievement of the other 16 goals.  Investments made in agriculture — the dominant occupation for the world’s poorest people — can accomplish much beyond Goal 2, including improvements in health, incomes, trade, infrastructure, and the environment,” he said.

USCIB policy experts and members also joined the SDG Business Forum on July 18, the first business-organized meeting held in the UN’s General Assembly Hall. Speakers from the UN, governments, NGOs and business discussed private sector investment, information sharing and public-private partnership to take forward the 17 SDGs.  The Forum was organized by the Global Business Coalition for 2030, a coalition of major business organizations and the UN Global Compact, facilitated by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC).

Speaking to the HLPF, USCIB Vice President for Strategic International Engagement, Energy and Environment Norine Kennedy stated, “Innovation, infrastructure, economic growth and empowerment and good governance are the four inter-linked cornerstones for all 17 SDGs for business. Therefore it is crucial to consult with private sector groups at the national and regional level to develop enabling frameworks for business actions to advance the SDGs,” she said. Over 40 countries submitted national reports this year on their progress towards the SDGs.

Many of the speakers echoed the sentiment that neither the SDG’s nor the wider 2030 Agenda can be achieved without active participants of non-state actors, including business and industry, to drive  inclusive economic growth and prosperity.

In his remarks to the HLPF, ICC Secretary General John Danilovich noted, “There can be no doubt that the private sector means business when it comes to the SDG’s. Since their inception, I’ve said the SDG’s should be known as the BDG’s, the Business Development Goals, and that’s because their achievement represents a clear economic imperative. Business engagement on the UN SDG’s is not only a powerful way to enhance society’s trust but also a great business opportunity. Achieving the SDG’s opens up $12 trillion in market opportunity in sectors such as food, energy, health and cities.”

USCIB member KPMG’s Nick Chism, deputy head of Global Sales and Markets and global chair of Infrastructure, Government & Healthcare, discussed the importance of creating business-friendly environment and opportunities, indicating that enabling environments will lead to more private sector investment.

For this year’s HLPF, USCIB members, including Bechtel, Cargill, Citi, Hilton, Monsanto, Novozymes and Pirelli, added new examples of actions to advance the SDGs to USCIB’s Businessfor2030 web platform.

USCIB’s Vice President for ICT Policy Barbara Wanner also attended an event, Accelerating Women’s Economic Empowerment to Achieve the 2030 Agenda, which was organized by ICC and UN Women – the global champion for gender equality. For many women around the world, ICT’s can be leveraged for personal security, better access to education and jobs, financial inclusion and access to basic healthcare information. But benefits such as these rely on women having meaningful access to ICT which can be facilitated or prevented by several factors, including affordability, relevant content, skills and security. The event showcased the global efforts stakeholders have embarked on to bring women’s economic empowerment to the forefront of all the SDG targets.

“Through innovation, investment and development of products and services, the private sector plays an important role in advancing gender equality and improving the lives of women,” said Wanner.

ICC highlighted several private sector initiatives during the side-event that are catalyzing women’s economic empowerment in developed and developing countries and presented the role of ICT’s in advancing the SDG’s. For additional information on this event, please visit ICC’s website.