Business Finalizes Recommendations to G20 Sherpas

USCIB President Peter Robinson and IOE President Daniel Funes de Rioja (2ns and 3rd from right, respectively) at the B20 session in Paris
USCIB President Peter Robinson and IOE President Daniel Funes (2nd and 3rd from right, respectively) at the B20 session in Paris

USCIB President and CEO Peter M. Robinson took part in today’s Special B20 Germany-OECD-BIAC meeting at the OECD in Paris, designed to provide coordinated private-sector input to the G20 leaders, in advance of a key G20 sherpas meeting this week in Germany. The main G20 leaders summit is scheduled for July 7-8 in Hamburg, Germany.

“Today’s meetings were important because we finalized key recommendations to the G20 sherpas on trade and investment policy, job-creation and the digitalization of the economy, among other topics,” said Robinson, who serves as co-chair of the B20 Employment and Education Task Force. “We hope the G20 governments will take these recommendations to heart.”

B20 President Jürgen Heraeus stated: “If we want to ensure future-oriented, sustainable economic growth, business has an important role to play. We are ready to do so. This cooperation offers the outstanding opportunity to shape global economic governance. Our global economy is changing rapidly. We are facing a multitude of risks: climate change, political conflicts, terrorism to name just a few. The G20 can serve as an agenda-setter.”

The B20 meeting was co-hosted by Business at OECD (BIAC), and OECD Secretary General Angel Gurria addressed the gathering. “Business at OECD provides continuity and expertise across G20 and B20 presidencies,” said Business at OECD Chairman Phil O’Reilly. “We support the OECD in its vital mission to improve domestic and global economic governance. At a time when trade and investment across borders are subject of much ill-informed debate, OECD evidence on the substantial benefits of open and competitive markets is more important than ever.”

Daniel Funes de Rioja, chairman of the International Organization of Employers, also took part in today’s meetings. Meanwhile, USCIB Senior Vice President Rob Mulligan participated in meetings in London around the conclusion of the G20 finance ministers meeting, which was notable in part for the ministers’ decision not to re-emphasize their shard commitment to resisting trade protectionism.

Following the conclusion finance ministers meeting, International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) Secretary General John Danilovich issued a statement calling on the G20 governments to commit to shared values of openness and cooperation.

“We continue to face the challenge of global growth being too low and benefiting too few,” said Danilovich. “This is the defining economic test of our times, and we urge all G20 economies to take concerted and urgent action to enable inclusive growth. A retreat into protectionism would be the wrong response to this challenge.”

Danilovich continued: “Trade and globalization are complex processes, but at their heart are some simple truths. Trade means more choice for consumers. It means lower prices, so the money in your pocket goes further. Companies that trade are more competitive, and create more and better-paid jobs. That’s why trade matters if we’re to deliver the increases in prosperity, and reductions in inequality, that G20 finance ministers rightly committed to realize this weekend.”

“The global business community is naturally concerned by any weakening of the G20’s decade-long stance on resisting protectionism. We remain encouraged that discussions on this issue will continue in the coming months at official level. ICC will do all it can to urge G20 leaders to take the strongest possible stance on maintaining open markets at their annual summit in Hamburg in July. Protectionism is no path to progress.”

UN Environment Assembly Focuses on Role of Business

Kennedy at Nairobi UNEP Meetings
Kennedy representing the Business and Industry Major Group at UNEP meetings in Nairobi 

Norine Kennedy, USCIB’s expert on environment and climate change policy and one of two official business focal point representatives for the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), recently attended UN Environment Assembly (UNEA3) preparatory meetings in Nairobi (March 7-10). UNEA represents the world’s highest-level decision-making body on the environment with universal membership of all 193 UN Member States along with non-governmental organizations and the private sector. The meetings in Nairobi began discussions to develop a new framework of of pollution-related issues for potential decisions and pledges at UNEA3; a substantial element of this framework will be the role of business in causing, remediating and minimizing pollution. UNEA3 will take place from December 4-6 in Nairobi.

UNEA3’s theme will be, “Towards a Pollution Free Planet.”  In interventions during last week’s preliminary meetings, government and UNEP officials linked this broad topic with other policy concepts underpinning regulatory efforts, including the circular economy and sustainable consumption.   Several governments also emphasized connections with UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“At this early stage, most attention seems to be directed at plastics in the marine environment, whether in the form of micro-plastics and smaller debris,  or as plastic bottles and plastic bags, with the push coming from Nordic countries, the EU and some African countries,” observed Kennedy. “Other issues under the other pollution sub-headings could still be proposed.

Led by UNEP Executive Director, Erik Solheim, and echoed by numerous government representatives, UNEA3 preparations for UNEA3 are placing a strong focus on business and industry as a source of solutions, resources, and actions, yet much needs to be done to afford adequate time and attention to contributions that business has made to addressing environmental challenges.  “In spite of extensive partnership and engagement by business with UNEP over decades, discussions last week frequently seemed to assume that business and industry was not already engaged in environmental and sustainability management,” noted Kennedy.   In her intervention on behalf of Business and Industry, Kennedy reminded governments and UNEP of the business community’s ongoing commitment to environmental stewardship and role in advancing innovative technologies to further all elements of sustainability.

Questions remain about how UNEP will identify and invite important business entities to the table, with an emphasis on geographical and sectoral representation, rather than anecdotal examples and individual CEOs.  USCIB will continue to advocate for U.S. business involvement and representation, working with UNEP and the U.S. Administration.

ICC Institute Advanced Training on the Conduct of the Proceedings and Case Management

Registration is now open for the ICC Institute Advanced Training on the Conduct of the Proceedings and Case Management.

Location: San Francisco, CA

Description: This training is of an advanced level and will focus in depth on how the arbitrator should establish his or her authority over the parties throughout the proceedings, including hearings, and interact with his or her fellow-arbitrators. Attendees are supposed to already master the basics of ICC international commercial arbitration. The training will consist of presentations and interactive discussions using mock case scenarios designed to hone participants’ understanding of critical theoretical concepts while also emphasizing many practical aspects involved in conducting an international arbitration.

To register, please visit the registration website. Early Bird rate is available through March 31.

USCIB Experts Quoted in Journal of Commerce Articles on Trade

container_shipUSCIB experts on trade and customs Rob Mulligan, senior vice president of policy and government affairs, and Megan Giblin, customs and trade facilitation director, were recently quoted in a Journal of Commerce article, “Trump administration unlikely to repudiate new WTO pact.” The article explores the state of bilateral and multinational trade agreements, such as the recent entry into force of the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) and the future of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

JOC Special Correspondent Alan M Field wrote that despite the current administration’s aversion to multilateral agreements, it isn’t likely to repudiate the TFA. Field also quoted Mulligan’s views on this matter, “I don’t think that the administration has said much directly related to this agreement, but in some ways, I would expect that the provisions of this agreement are consistent with some of the things they have been saying about trying to open up borders and improve opportunities for U.S. business.”

Giblin agreed, stating that “it is important to recognize some of [the TFA’s] core messages. The TFA is critical to doing business, critical for companies. You’re going to get more transparency and predictability. The time-consuming processes at the border are going to be streamlined. You’re going to see goods moving more rapidly across the border. It’s expected to increase exports significantly.”

The full JOC story is available here, log-in required.

Giblin was also quoted extensively in a separate JOC story, “New WTO accord to speed customs clearance, cut costs” that takes a deeper dive into the TFA’s entry into force. Giblin was quoted on several aspects of the TFA, including the TFA’s value in allowing companies to understand quickly what the rules are and be able to export with assurance, “If everybody is providing the same level of transparency and ability [needed] to appeal decisions, then everyone will know how to operate,” she said. “That will lead to increased exports of products. And that will likely give a boost to the US economy and result in more jobs.”

The JOC story on TFA also quotes International Chamber of Commerce Chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal.

 

New ICC Arbitration Rules and Note

International Law And Human Rights ConceptThe International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) International Court of Arbitration recently adopted new ICC Arbitration Rules and Note, which was approved by the Bureau of the Court on February 22 and went into effect earlier this month. The Note consolidates previously existing notes into one cohesive guidance document.

“The Note is an important step towards the implementation of our new policies to foster the efficiency and the transparency of ICC arbitrations. The possibility for any party to seek the provision of reasons for a wide range of Court decisions is a landmark change as well as a message of accountability to our users,” said President of the Court Alexis Mourre.

The Note also introduces a wide range of additional services that are now available to the parties in ICC cases, such as the recommendation of administrative secretaries, services for the organization of the hearing, the organization of transparent proceedings or the use of sealed offers.

Additional information on the Note can be found here.

Wanner Represents Business at ICANN Meetings in Denmark

Wanner at ICANN Meetings in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Wanner at ICANN Meetings in Copenhagen, Denmark.

USCIB vice president for ICT policy, Barbara Wanner, attended meetings of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) in Copenhagen, Denmark last week, concluding a first of three rounds of meetings scheduled for 2017. Wanner joined 2,400 participants from business, government, civil society, and the technical community for a six-day meeting largely focused on domain name system (DNS) policy issues and inter-stakeholder discussions.

Wanner participated in DNS related meetings in her new capacity as the Business Constituency representative to the Commercial Stakeholder Group, enabling greater input to policy discussions at the executive committee level on behalf of USCIB members.

A noteworthy addition to this meeting – and reflecting heightened global concerns about protections of personal data – was a special “privacy summit,” which featured senior privacy officials from the Council of Europe and EU Article 29 Working Party. “An important result of the “summit” was recognition by the ICANN community of the need for timely, legal analysis of the implications of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation, which goes into effect May 28, 2018, on the processing of data related to domain name registrations and related contractual obligations of companies that register domain names,” observed Wanner.

USCIB and AFL-CIO Join Forces to Support Key Programs on Labor and Human Rights

CapitolUSCIB and the AFL-CIO recently joined forces in a letter co-signed by USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson and ALF-CIO President Richard Trumka to the House Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies and its Senate counterpart to support the Department of Labor’s Bureau of International Labor Affairs (ILAB) and the Department of State’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (DRL). Robinson and Trumka serve together as members of the President’s Committee on the International Labor Organization.

Separately, USCIB submitted written testimony to the House Committee on Appropriations to continue funding ILAB’s and DRL’s grants and programs. “These department bureaus are essential for ensuring compliance with our current trade law and a level playing field for businesses operating both in the U.S. and globally. The programs and grants of ILAB and DRL are critical to both employers and workers, providing essential support to efforts of U.S. companies and worker organizations to promote worker rights abroad, uphold labor commitments in free trade agreements, eliminate forced labor and child labor, and create an enabling environment for ethical business practices,” said Rob Mulligan, USCIB senior vice president for policy and government affairs.

The joint USCIB AFL-CIO letter is available here.

USCIB in the News: Doran Klein at Pacific Rim Tax Conference

USCIB’s vice president for international taxation policy Carol Doran Klein was recently quoted in a Bloomberg BNA piece “U.S. Will Remain Engaged in OECD Tax Work: IRS Official” regarding her comments during a panel in last week’s Seventh Annual Pacific Rim Tax Conference in Palo Alto, California. The two-day conference brought international tax policy and management issues to the forefront of corporate tax leaders and tax professionals, focusing on the Pacific Rim.

Doran Klein spoke on a panel titled “Challenges and Opportunities of BEPS,” alongside Theodore D. Setzer, assistant deputy commissioner (international), Internal Revenue Service. In her remarks, which were captured by BNA, Klein stated that “Companies are very concerned that the U.S. might move away from the multilateral framework. USCIB is encouraging U.S. officials to keep participating in the international tax work of organizations such as the OECD and the United Nations. Dialogue in not improved when your voice is not in the room.”

Doran Klein said Setzer’s remarks were “really important for my members.” She said companies were very concerned that the U.S. might move away from active participation in multilateral tax forums. USCIB would encourage U.S. officials to keep participating in the international tax work of organizations such as the OECD and the United Nations, Doran Klein added.

“Dialogue is not improved when your voice is not in the room,” she said.

Read the full Bloomberg Government piece here.

Donnelly Leads Business Push at OECD for FDI

ShaunDonnelly_BIAC_OECD_InvestmentForumUSCIB’s Vice President for Investment and Financial Services Shaun Donnelly was leading the business voices at multiple events around the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) Investment Week in Paris last week. Donnelly was the lead business speaker at the panel on “Is Investment Liberalization Shifting into Reverse?” at the OECD Global Forum on International Investment and the lead business respondent to presentations by academic experts on “Societal Benefits and Costs of Investment Treaties” at the OECD’s Third Annual Conference on Investment Treaties.

In both formal presentations, as well as in formal and informal interactions with government delegations from both ‎OECD member countries and leading developing and emerging governments, Donnelly emphasized the importance of investment agreements, including strong enforcement provisions, to facilitate much needed Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) flows.

Per established OECD practice, Donnelly played a lead role in BIAC’s formal consultation, along with the parallel labor and civil society stakeholder groups, with the OECD’s Investment Committee on Wednesday, March 8.  With investment agreements under attacks from some quarters, it is important for business to speak up these sorts or international fora, whether at OECD or elsewhere, on the importance of FDI for both the host economy and the home country and especially on the important role high standard investment agreements and strong enforcement provisions play in today’s global economy.

Senior investment policy experts from the State Department, U.S. Trade Representative and Treasury Department also participated in the meetings last week.

Washington Conference Looks at OECD’s Role in Fostering Digital Transformation

OECD Deputy Secretary General Doug Franz
OECD Deputy Secretary General Doug Franz

Cross-border trade in digital goods and services has grown 45-fold over the past decade. How can policy makers and the business community work together to ensure that new technologies and digital applications can lead to a more prosperous, productive, inclusive and socially beneficial world? And what lessons can be learned from current discussions and related work within the 35-nation Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)?

This was the focus of a conference today in Washington, D.C., “Facilitating Digital Transformation: The OECD’s Role,” organized by the USCIB Foundation, the educational arm of the United States Council for International Business (USCIB), in partnership with the OECD and Business at OECD (BIAC).

In opening keynote remarks, David Redl, chief counsel for communications and technology at the Energy and Commerce Committee, U.S. House of Representatives, compared extending broadband access to the construction of the interstate highway system. “Despite everyone’s best efforts, there are still parts of the United States that lack the infrastructure to meet universal availability and adoption,” he stated. Redl said government spending alone won’t get the job done. “We must also foster investment in U.S. networks, streamline regulation, and improve online trust and security to bring the benefits of the Internet to every American.”

OECD Deputy Secretary General Douglas Frantz identified several factors as key to ongoing digital transformation: improved communications infrastructure and services, new and innovative business models, improved consumer trust and privacy protection, effective policy making, and a robust approach to the challenges and opportunities posed by improvements in artificial intelligence (AI). On the latter point, he proposed that the OECD work toward some sort of policy instrument to address AI.

Andrew Wycoff, director of the OECD’s Directorate for Science, Technology and Innovation, outlined the OECD’s work to assess the G20 economies’ uneven progress to date toward enabling the digital transformation. He said the OECD’s upcoming policy recommendations would focus on the importance of boosting investment in digital infrastructure, ensuring competition in the ICT sector and the broader economy, and establishing sufficient trust in the digital economy while also making it truly inclusive.

Jacqueline Ruff, Verizon, gives remarks during panel
Jacqueline Ruff, Verizon, gives remarks during panel

During an industry roundtable on emerging technologies, Jacqueline Ruff, vice president for international public policy and regulatory affairs with Verizon, said public policy will be important to remove barriers to the deployment of fifth-generation wireless technology, while creating a pro-investment environment. “They key to 5G will be smart communities,” she stated.

Other conference panels examined questions of equity and potential negative effects of digital technologies, as well as ways to enhance trust in an increasingly connected world. Organizers said the event would help steer discussion toward practical measures to maximize the benefits of new technologies. Panelists also focused on jobs, as well as education and skills-development challenges and opportunities, posed by digital transformation and the efforts by companies, such as IBM, to create “new collar jobs” enabling a segment of workers in more mature industries to become productive participants in the digital economy.

“Getting policy right for digital innovation is a critical factor for economic competitiveness, for trust and confidence in the digital environment, and ultimately for societal well-being”, said Bernhard Welschke, Secretary General of Business at OECD. “We need to communicate the benefits of digital transformation and Business at OECD will continue to work closely with the OECD on this challenge.”

USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson stated: “We hope that today’s discussions will enable those who may not participate directly in OECD meetings to learn more about the OECD’s work and its value to the process and substance of crafting sensible, effective policy and regulation. Whether it is in providing frameworks, or in the development of consensus-based guiding principles, the OECD has a lot to offer and think about.”