USCIB CEO and President in New York Times

Robinson_OECDforumToday’s edition of The New York Times features a letter to the editor from USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson on UN reform and the need for the United States to continue to play a leading role in the UN system. The letter is available below as well as on the New York Times’s website.

Robinson’s letter responds to U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley‘s recent comments criticizing the UN Human Rights Commission and other agencies, and comes against the background of recent calls from some in Congress and the Trump administration to defund the UN.

 

The New York Times

April 7, 2017

The Opinion Pages | Letter

‘Tough Love’ at the U.N.

To the Editor:

Re “American Envoy Calls U.N. Human Rights Council ‘Corrupt’ ” (news article, March 30):

As a longtime participant in United Nations deliberations on behalf of the private sector — which has not always enjoyed a warm welcome in the organization — I think that it is always better to be at the table than to walk away.

For us, this is important because the United Nations and its member governments are looking to business to make important contributions on climate change, human rights and many other challenges.

But I agree with Ambassador Nikki Haley that it is entirely appropriate for the United States, as the world body’s biggest funder, to apply some “tough love.”

In my view, some United Nations agencies, including the Human Rights Council, may need to be reformed so that they align with the expectations of United States taxpayers and better reflect the global consensus in favor of strong protection of human rights.

PETER M. ROBINSON, NEW YORK

The writer is president and chief executive of the United States Council for International Business.

USCIB in the News: Joint Letter Seeks Fair Play in India

USCIB has recently been cited in two articles, the Economic Times India and the International Business Times India,  both of which featured a multi-industry letter that was sent to Congress regarding the United States’ role in ensuring fair play in India for American companies. USCIB joined a group of over twenty eminent American business organizations and industry groups, many of which are also USCIB members. The letter stated that “businesses in the U.S. continue to face an evolving array of tariff and non-tariff barriers, both longstanding and new, which impede businesses and manufactures in the United States from competing fairly in India and creating jobs here at home.”

The letter urges the U.S. government, including Congress, to use all available channels to ensure fair play and to support Indian efforts that align with U.S. goals. The letter emphasized the need to actively use existing as well as new platforms and tools to raise and resolve longstanding issues, including the U.S.-India Strategic and Commercial Dialogue, the U.S.-India Trade Policy Forum, and the WTO dispute settlement.

The letter is available here.

USCIB in the News: Trump and Global Leadership

USCIB was recently cited in a Denver Post opinion piece highlighting President Donald Trump’s signal of “retreat from leading the world.” The op-ed, by Professor Ved Nanda of the University of Denver,  referred to a USCIB statement issued last week regarding Trump’s executive order to withdraw the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership. In the statement, USCIB observed that the Asia-Pacific region accounts for 40 percent of the global economy and is a key market for future growth of U.S. companies, in part due to estimates that two-thirds of all middle-class consumers will be in Asia by 2030.

The op-ed also highlighted the need for continue U.S. leadership and closer cooperation with its allies. Click here to access the op-ed on the Denver Post’s website.

USCIB in the News

ICC United Kingdom, which serves as the British national committee of the International Chamber of Commerce, was featured in the Financial Times on January 18 in response to British Prime Minister Theresa May’s speech on the UK’s position on Brexit. The article, reprinted below, is also available on the FT’s website.

We encourage you to share this with others as well as follow ICC UK on Twitter: @iccwboUK


UK BUSINESS MUST MAKE THE CASE FOR TRADE DURING EXIT TALKS

Sir, Signs that the British government will sacrifice access to the single market during Brexit negotiations are indeed worrying. I find the assertion that “many are now becoming increasingly relaxed about a hard Brexit” (January 17) genuinely concerning. The Brexit negotiations will dictate the future of UK-EU trade relationships, jobs and livelihoods for generations to come.

The UK is one of the largest trading economies in the world, so the impacts will be felt far beyond its and the EU’s borders. Whatever happens, we must all come away with a deal that works for all parties. For business, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises, retaining access to the single market is the best option — keeping red tape, costs and disruption to a minimum. Don’t be conned into thinking the numbers are irrelevant: a 2-3 per cent tariff increase can mean the difference between an SME being successful or going bust. For foreign investors, 2-3 per cent can totally change the business case for investing in the UK. More paperwork means someone has to be paid to fill it in — someone has to pay for that. International businesses do not operate in silos.

UK, EU and non-EU businesses are often intertwined through integrated supply chains that move goods, services and finance across borders. Now is not the time to put up barriers or add costs if we want more trade, jobs and investment. We must all work hard to keep borders open — this is not just a UK priority, but also a G20 priority. Negotiations haven’t even started yet. We need to remain cool headed and must not get comfortable with the idea that the UK will leave the single market. Small businesses need the next best alternative with maximum freedom and minimal red tape. UK business isn’t powerless. We must communicate with the government and electorate, we must loudly make the case for trade, and we must not give up.

Chris Southworth Secretary-General, International Chamber of Commerce, London WC1, UK

US Unlikely to Sign New Global Tax Treaty

Businessman hand touching tax word on virtual screen the concept of online taxation.

USCIB’s vice president for taxation policy, Carol Doran Klein, was quoted extensively in a November 30 Bloomberg BNA article on the OECD’s multilateral tax treaty, known as the Multilateral Convention to Implement Tax Treaty-Related Measures to Prevent Base Erosion and Profit Shifting. According to Doran Klein, while many countries are likely to sign on to parts of the treaty, it is unlikely the U.S. will sign on mainly because the multilateral instrument (MLI) “does not have a lot to offer the U.S. Many of the provisions are variations on treaty policies that the U.S. has been implementing for decades.”

Regarding effect on business, Doran Klein said it will be a challenge for companies and their advisers to analyze the changes made by the MLI to individual bilateral treaties. “This is actually a huge issue, because it may be difficult to work through exactly what the new treaty language is.” Doran Klein said she is worried that the tax treaty area will wind up like the trade area. The trade agreements are very difficult to read and understand, because they refer back to other agreements for basic principles. “I believe that the reason they do that is they do not want to open up the fundamentals of the old agreements to complete renegotiation, but it is therefore extremely difficult to understand the obligations.”

To read the full story, visit Bloomberg BNA (subscription required).

The Uncertain U.S. Role in Global Tax Debate

BEPS TaxationUSCIB’s vice president for tax, Carol Doran Klein, has recently been quoted in Bloomberg Government amid uncertainty around the U.S. role in global tax rewrite under President-elect Trump’s administration. Among the various issues, the project on tax base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS) will likely not unravel. Doran Klein trusts that the BEPS project will be included in the new administration’s ongoing work, hoping that the U.S. will “continue to participate actively because having the U.S. Treasury at the table makes the rules more likely to reflect the concerns of the U.S. as a government and the U.S. business community.” She goes on to say that there are “many countries that are getting significant benefits from the BEPS project, including things that have already been implemented, such as the reporting requirements.”

Read the whole story here. Please note you need a subscription to Bloomberg Government for full access.

The U.S. and Mexico Must Work Together as Neighbors

Flag Badges of America and Mexico in PileUSCIB Chairman Terry McGraw has joined with ICC Mexico Chair Maria Fernanda Garza in a joint appeal for the United States and Mexico to work together to address common challenges of trade, immigration and security.

In a joint op-ed in the Mexican newspaper El Financiero, the two business leaders urged their compatriots to reject the antagonism emanating from the U.S. campaign trail, reminding readers of the direct and measurable benefits the North American Free Trade Agreement has brought to both Mexicans and Americans alike.

McGraw and Fernanda Garza finished by reiterating that the business communities of both the United States and Mexico are united in their support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which they urged their respective legislatures to ratify without delay.

Please see below for the English translation of the op-ed. To read it in Spanish on El Financiero’s website, click here.

USCIB and ICC Mexico each serve as their country’s national committees of the International Chamber of Commerce.

 

The U.S. and Mexico Must Work Together as Neighbors

By Harold McGraw III and María Fernanda Garza

If the U.S. presidential campaign has reminded us of anything, it is the importance of neighborliness. Just as your own neighborhood deteriorates if you and your neighbors don’t communicate or work together well, so it is in business and international affairs.

Right now, on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border, we face a stark choice: build walls, foster mistrust and disengage our economies – or work together to continue building shared prosperity. As representatives of the business communities from both nations, we strongly urge our fellow countrymen and our leaders to choose the latter course.

Since the North American Free Trade Agreement was negotiated more than 20 years ago, Mexico and the United States have enjoyed an increasingly close and mutually beneficial relationship that builds on our respective strengths and abilities, our vibrant economies and vast resources, our unique position as neighbors and, most importantly, our peoples. Mexico, the U.S. and Canada have turned North America into one of the most important and most dynamic free trade areas in the world. It has taken foresight and resolve.

Bilateral trade between Mexico and the U.S. has multiplied by six since NAFTA’s entry into force, reaching nearly $500 billion in 2015. Mexico is now the second-largest export market for U.S. goods and its second-largest supplier. It is estimated that U.S. trade with Mexico supports some six million American jobs.

With a growing, $1 trillion economy and a developing middle class that eagerly consumes U.S. and other foreign products, Mexico is the world’s 9th-largest world importer, and it buys 16 percent of everything the U.S. sells to the world. It is the largest export market for California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, and one of the three most important export markets for 29 other U.S. states.

This burgeoning trade relationship is built upon regional economic integration, cooperation and capitalizing on both nations’ competitiveness. Bilateral trade often occurs in the context of shared production, where manufacturers on each side of the border work together to produce goods. The development of robust supply chains as a result of NAFTA has translated into highly integrated trade in such key industries as automobiles, aerospace and electronics.

For instance, Mexican exports to the U.S. contain 40 percent of U.S. value-added, which is much higher than those from South Korea or China which are at five percent and four percent, respectively.

The U.S. and Mexico have a shared interest in fostering economic integration in North America, which is becoming, once again, the most competitive region in the world. Among other things, both countries need to ensure an efficient and secure border, the development of human capital for innovation and the growth of the services sector.

Businesses on both sides of the border firmly believe that the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) will further strengthen Mexico-U.S. relations, North American competitiveness and our shared prosperity by encouraging competition and setting new and modern disciplines in the Asia-Pacific Region. With TPP, North America will become an even more important export platform to the world, with the consequent creation of jobs. We therefore are urging our respective legislatures to quickly ratify the TPP.

Especially in the face of growing protectionist and isolationist sentiment, we cannot stress strongly enough the critical importance of closer cooperation between our two governments in fostering a strong U.S.-Mexico relationship – one that contributes to shared economic growth, competitiveness and prosperity throughout North America. As neighbors, we have a shared responsibility to keep the neighborhood safe and prosperous.

Harold McGraw III is chairman of the United States Council for International Business. Maria Fernanda Garza chairs the Mexican chapter of the International Chamber of Commerce.

Transatlantic Trade Talks Lack European Leadership

Originally published in the Wall Street Journal on September 20

Many details of TTIP still need to be negotiated. But what’s missing is a sign of seriousness from the EU.

By PETER ROBINSON and THOMAS NILES
Sept. 20, 2016 3:05 p.m. ET

us_eu_flags_3Readers following the progress of negotiations over the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership would be forgiven for thinking that a deal is now impossible. Between the Brexit vote, antitrade rhetoric on the U.S. presidential campaign trail and stern opposition by assorted European political leaders, TTIP appears to lack the kind of serious support needed to succeed.

The commercial and diplomatic logic behind TTIP remain as compelling as ever. An agreement would further open each side’s market to mutual trade, which currently amounts to more than $1 trillion annually. It would strengthen rules-based investment in what is already the world’s largest relationship for foreign direct investment. And it would improve market access for trade in services while tackling costly nontariff barriers, including regulatory obstacles.

Done right, the effort to roll back the impediments to trade and investment between the U.S. and the European Union could be a huge boost to both economies. Business leaders on both sides of the Atlantic are united in support of an ambitious agreement.

But progress in the 4-year-old talks has come more slowly than the governments or the business communities had hoped. TTIP certainly faces headwinds in the U.S., where the two major candidates in this presidential election have turned their backs on a half century of bipartisan trade policy and American global engagement. Instead, they pander to antitrade, isolationist, protectionist forces.

But the greatest challenge to TTIP right now comes from Europe, in the form of naked antitrade and anti-American prejudices from some European leaders.

Over the past couple of years, the European Parliament has consistently belittled American policies and positions, issuing unhelpful “red-line” declarations, for example, that no single EU policy or regulation could possibly be modified under a TTIP agreement, or that the U.S. would have to adopt wholesale the EU’s regulatory regime.

Particularly disappointing have been a series of high-level political statements in recent weeks from senior Austrian, French and German officials calling for a stop to TTIP negotiations because of American intransigence. These complaints are unfounded. In fact, the U.S. has been quite forthcoming about eliminating tariffs on industrial goods and agriculture, as well as removing barriers to trade in services and in government procurement. The EU has declared far more areas of negotiation to be off limits.

While Cecilia Malmström, the EU’s trade commissioner, has, to her credit, defended TTIP, the overall response from the European political leadership has been disappointing. Many prominent EU leaders have remained silent. And while Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel has shown consistency and courage with a strong defense of TTIP, too many other European leaders haven’t matched her commitment or clarity.

Like all real-world negotiations, getting to agreement on TTIP will require tough decisions and compromise. American business groups are joining with other stakeholders in pushing their government to achieve an ambitious,
comprehensive, high-standard TTIP agreement. They have consistently opposed, for instance, the U.S. government’s insistence that the regulation of financial services be excluded from TTIP.

But the real question isn’t what detailed provisions will be included in a TTIP agreement. Rather, it’s whether the EU is serious about the negotiations at all. Will European leaders simply use TTIP to mollify their own critics at home? If the EU is serious about cementing its member economies more closely to each other, then European leaders need to stand up in support of a deal, and they need to do so now. Meanwhile, the European Commission should move quickly to schedule multiple negotiating rounds with the U.S. before the end of the year.

The two sides have agreed to continue talking, with the next round of TTIP negotiations set for early October. Hopefully this will result in actual progress and not additional excuses for delay. Both the U.S. and EU need to show the courage, vision and commitment to the transatlantic relationship and to push forward for the kind of balanced, ambitious, high-standard TTIP that both economies need.

Mr. Robinson is president and CEO of the United States Council for International Business. Mr. Niles, the council’s past president, is a retired U.S. diplomat who served as ambassador to the European Union.

What’s the Big Deal About Trade?

AIADA_TradeThe 2016 presidential race has brought trade under heavy fire, with both candidates opposing the the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Jonathan Huneke, USCIB vice president of communications and public affairs was quoted in an article by the American International Automobile Dealers Association about current misconceptions about trade.

Read the article

Jonathan Huneke, the vice president of Communications at the U.S. Council for International Business, echoes that belief, noting that many Americans believe the economic climate is working against them. “Despite steady growth in jobs since 2010, wage stagnation in the United States has led many in the United States to believe that the odds in the current economy are stacked against them,” he notes.

According to Huneke, “American dealers have a lot at stake in keeping our trade policy fundamentally open and forward-leaning. There is huge demand and growth potential for innovative automobiles that meet the needs of U.S. consumers. Many of the most innovative automakers rely heavily on the American market, and on skilled American workers, to compete globally.”

Huneke agrees. “Trade agreements serve important diplomatic and geopolitical purposes in addition to their economic benefits, something that most Americans probably understand,” he says. “For example, the TPP and TTIP agreements can play an important role at a time when we are seeking to strengthen our Asian and European alliances in the face of threats like North Korea and ISIS.”

Read the article

The Business of Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals

Business for 2030 logo

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) bring the global community together in a bid to end poverty and hunger, fight climate change, and achieve sustainable economic growth. How can businesses play their part in this universal effort, and what’s in it for them?

USCIB Vice President for Labor Affairs, Corporate Responsibility and Governance Ariel Meyerstein was quoted in an article by Eco-Business about how the private sector is participating in the global development agenda.

One major initiative is Business for 2030, launched last September by the New York-based United States Council for International Business (USCIB). The programme showcases efforts by companies worldwide to contribute to the SDGs, and aims to foster partnerships between the public and private sectors to meet the goals.

Ariel Meyerstein, USCIB’s vice-president of labour affairs, corporate responsibility and governance, recalls that in 2014, the organisation recognised that the SDGs offered an unprecedented space for the private sector to participate in the global development agenda.

“This meant that businesses needed to quickly get up to speed on this vast, ambitious, and dizzying new framework,” he says. “Business for 2030 provides a public resource that helps translate existing and ongoing corporate activities into the new SDG language.”

This collection of concrete examples not only offers other businesses case studies on how to get involved, but also allows governments to identify good corporate initiatives in their own countries, which they can then collaborate with, explains Meyerstein.

The site today hosts more than 140 initiatives from 35 firms which are implemented across 150 countries.

Read the full article at Eco-Business