USCIB Supports UN Convention on Receivables

Last week, USCIB joined nine other trade associations to sign on to a letter to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations in support for the United Nations Convention on the Assignment of Receivables in International Trade, asking the committee to move expeditiously toward its ratification.

Enactment of the convention would make it easier for U.S. small and medium-sized businesses to access additional financing from lenders based on their sales of goods and services to customers located in other countries that ratify the convention.

“The Receivables Convention is self-executing and would not change U.S. law in any material respect, because U.S. law already reflects the modern legal principles embodied in the convention,” said Eva Hampl, USCIB’s director for investment, trade and financial services. “We believe that U.S. ratification would prompt other countries to ratify as well, which will then make it easier for U.S. lenders to accommodate the financing needs of U.S. small and medium-sized businesses, enabling them to compete more vigorously in the international marketplace and foster the growth of American jobs.”

No state or federal legislation is needed for executing the Convention so there is no cost to the U.S. government or taxpayers in ratifying it. Furthermore, experts from the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws participated fully in the formulation of the Convention and have determined that there would be no implementation issues in ratifying the Convention.

 

 

USCIB Disappointed at Lack of Multilateral Progress at WTO Ministerial

But business group holds out hope on promising efforts by major groups of countries

Buenos Aires and New York, December 13, 2017 – The United States Council for Inte–rnational Business (USCIB), which represents America’s most successful global companies, expressed disappointment at the lack of meaningful multilateral progress at the World Trade Organization ministerial that concluded today. But it said that potential new group efforts on electronic commerce and other issues offered some limited hope for the future.

“Expectations for Buenos Aires were low coming in, and unfortunately the results largely lived up to them,” said USCIB President and CEO Peter M. Robinson, who represented USCIB at the ministerial. “The business community, which relies on cross-border trade and investment to help contribute to economic growth and societal well-being around the world, is disappointed. But we do hold out some hope for future progress based on the commitment by large groups of countries in pursuing new agreements.”

On the sidelines of the ministerial, 70 countries, led by Australia, Japan, and Singapore, and including the United States and the European Union, agreed to begin discussions toward negotiations on electronic commerce. USCIB joined the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), for which it serves as the American national committee, in welcoming the move.

“Today’s statement is a very welcome step forward by governments representing 77 percent of global trade,” said ICC Secretary General John Danilovich. “We firmly believe that with the right global policies in place there is an opportunity to unleash a new era of inclusive trade, one in which all companies – regardless of size, sector or location – can benefit from equal access to the global trading system.”

Separately, ministers from over 60 countries issued a joint statement pledging to pursue negotiations on domestic regulations that limit cross-border trade in services. They also renewed a landmark 1998 moratorium on duties on electronic transmissions.

“Taken together, these results offer some hope for the future, and set a new and positive direction for the WTO,” said Robinson. “We are especially grateful for the persistence and vision of those members that pushed for continued positive movement on e-commerce.”

Robinson continued: “However, the lack of truly meaningful multilateral deliverables is worrisome. Members will need to think long and hard about what kind of WTO they really want – one that simply adjudicates trade disputes and sanctions trade enforcement remedies, or one that expands trade through new, market-opening agreements.”

About USCIB:
USCIB promotes open markets, competitiveness and innovation, sustainable development and corporate responsibility, supported by international engagement and regulatory coherence. Its members include U.S.-based global companies and professional services firms from every sector of our economy, with operations in every region of the world, generating $5 trillion in annual revenues and employing over 11 million people worldwide. As the U.S. affiliate of several leading international business organizations, including ICC, USCIB provides business views to policy makers and regulatory authorities worldwide, and works to facilitate international trade and investment. More information is available at www.uscib.org.

Contact:
Jonathan Huneke, USCIB
jhuneke@uscib.org, +1 212.703.5043

 

ICC Marketing Commission Looks to Bring Sense to Debate Over Children’s Advertising

ICC Marketing & Advertising Commission members met at Microsoft’s San Francisco offices.

Amid a year-long celebration of the 80th anniversary of the International Chamber of Commerce’s landmark global marketing code (formally known as the ICC Consolidated Code of Advertising and Marketing Communications Practice), ICC members gathered in San Francisco on December 4-5 to discuss emerging challenges to the self-regulatory framework exemplified by the ICC Code.

The ICC Marketing and Advertising Commission, chaired by Brent Sanders, associate general counsel with Microsoft, meets twice annually, and this gathering marked the commission’s first visit to the West Coast in several years. Among the guest speakers was Jurgen Van Staden, privacy and public policy manager at Facebook, who addressed the evolving landscape for advertising self-regulation in a fast-evolving digital landscape and encouraged ICC members to ensure that the ICC Code remains fit for purpose.

Top of mind for many participants were new regulatory threats that may impose overly stringent constraints on the marketing of products to children and teenagers. National and global regulatory bodies are increasingly focused on the topic, and many policy responses seek to address “up-aging” (increasing the upper age limit of childhood), limitations on screen time, and privacy and data security, as well as many other concerns.

According to Jonathan Huneke, USCIB’s vice president for communications and public affairs, who attended the ICC meetings, business representatives are seeking to bridge the significant divergence of regulatory practice between the United States, the European Union and other jurisdictions.

“Not surprisingly, national standards for marketing and advertising can vary widely between countries,” he said. “To take one example, the EU’s soon-to-be-implemented General Data Privacy Regulation imposes an absolute right to privacy that may complicate efforts to comply with the U.S. Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, where restrictions on the use of data is less restrictive for those aged 13 and over. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to potential regulatory divergence.

ICC members agreed to develop a toolkit to respond to threatened bans on marketing to children and teens, drawing upon the ICC Code, as well as related ICC guidance on food and beverage marketing, online advertising, and other issues. They will also explore conducting an outreach and educational campaign for policy makers around the world, to raise awareness of self-regulation as an effective means of maintaining high standards of marketing and advertising practice.

Commission members also reviewed proposed changes to the ICC Code in the areas of data-driven and interactive marketing. The next meeting of the ICC Marketing and Advertising Commission will take place in Paris in late June. You can view and download copies of the ICC Code and many other resources on marketing and advertising at ICC’s Codes Centre website.

Read more about USCIB’s Marketing and Advertising Committee here.

Rigg Herzog Speaks at UN Forum on Business and Human Rights

Last week, USCIB Vice President for Corporate Responsibility and Labor Affairs Gabriella Rigg Herzog participated in the 6th Annual United Nations Forum on Business and Human Rights in Geneva, Switzerland. The annual forum is the world’s largest gathering of government, civil society, business and other stakeholders focused on the promotion and implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs). This year’s theme, “Realizing Effective Access to Remedy” focused on the third pillar of the UN Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights, and discussions revolved around a wide range of mechanisms for remedy, from state-based judicial and non-judicial to remediation and grievance mechanisms, as well as others.

Herzog spoke on a panel focused on the peer review process of the functioning of National Contact Point offices under the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. Several other USCIB members also attended the forum and participated on panels, including BP, The Walt Disney Company, Coca-Cola, Walmart and Littler Mendelson.  

“USCIB and our members have participated actively in the UN Annual Forum on Business and Human Rights every year since it was launched following the approval of the UNGPs by the UN Human Rights Council in 2011,” said Herzog. “The Forum provides an opportunity for annual stock-taking on UNGPs implementation progress by governments, business and civil society. “

On November 27, USCIB, along with other business organizations such as the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and the International Organization of Employers (IOE), co-hosted a Business Briefing and Networking Event, an exclusive business event that provided private sector attendees the opportunity to meet and network with colleagues, learn more about the UN Forum and how to engage meaningfully, while discussing the important “Access to Remedy” topic with peers. 

Among other pre-and-post-Forum events, USCIB also participated in a briefing with the U.S. government delegation on November 29 where several government representatives shared updates on their office’s initiatives to protect human rights as articulated in the government’s duty to protect human rights under the UNGPs. 

“We appreciated seeing continued strong U.S. Government participation at the UN Annual Forum this year, and welcomed the updates they shared on their sustained focus on promoting implementation of the UNGPs by governments and businesses around the world,” added Herzog. “No one actor can single-handedly carry out the full UNGPs vision. U.S. businesses stands ready to engage constructively with U.S. Government – as well as civil society – on this important effort.”

Donnelly Offers Business Views on OECD Anti-bribery Convention

USCIB Vice President for Investment Policy Shaun Donnelly represented business on a panel discussion on November 29 marking the 20th anniversary of the OECD’s Anti-Bribery Convention organized in Washington by the Coalition for Integrity, “C4I”.  Donnelly joined senior anti-corruption officials from the OECD secretariat and the World Bank on a panel assessing the progress twenty years after the OECD’s “Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions” and where the convention and OECD’s anti-bribery work might be headed. 

Donnelly, who also serves as a member of the C4I’s Policy Advisory Board, emphasized three points in his comments.  First, while the OECD convention has delivered greater international attention on corrupt practices, much more effort is still needed from many convention member states on enforcement and prosecutions.

Second, the lack of any focus on the “demand side’ of the bribery dynamic, corrupt government officials extorting bribes from business, remains a very serious problem.  “Companies are not the origin of all, or even, most of the bribery in international business, and OECD anti-briery efforts need to recognize those inconvenient realities,” said Donnelly.

Finally, Donnelly urged the OECD’s Bribery Working Group and the Secretariat to open up their closed door proceedings to the established OECD stakeholders, including the Business and Industry Advisory Committee, where USCIB represents U.S. business.   

The C4I program included another panel, focused on the 40th anniversary of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), the landmark U.S. anti-bribery law which really launched government efforts to combat corruption.  That FCPA panel included representatives from the U.S. Department of Justice and the securities and Exchange Commission.   The afternoon panel program was organized around C4I’s annual awards dinner that evening where Senator John McCain received the prestigious “Integrity Award” and the OECD was recognized with a special award for its international leadership on anti-bribery and integrity issues. Donnelly represented USCIB at that awards dinner.

USCIB Gears Up for WTO Ministerial

Over 160 governments will gather next week in Buenos Aires, Argentina for the World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial (MC 11). USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson will also be attending on behalf of U.S. business and will support the International Chamber of Commerce activities planned in conjunction with MC11.

On December 12, Robinson will take part in the WTO Business Forum, which ICC is co-sponsoring with the Argentina government and several other groups. The Forum has been designed as a platform to amplify the voice of the private sector within the context of the WTO Ministerial with a view to promoting an enriching public-private dialogue about the multilateral trading system and contributing to foster closer engagement between governments and business leaders at the WTO.

Argentina’s President Mauricio Macro and Director-General of the WTO Roberto Azevedo are expected to give keynotes while ICC Secretary General John Danilovich will be part of the final panel discussing the future of global trade. USCIB member companies serving on panels at the Forum include Mastercard, GE, DHL Express, Dow Chemical, Boeing, Monsanto, IBM, UPS, Walmart, Google, Amazon, and E-bay.  The Forum will feature sessions on fostering micro, small and medium enterprises, progress in trade facilitation, food security and e-commerce.

At the Ministerial next week, Robinson will urge governments to agree on an action plan for moving the WTO forward on market opening agreements as well as improvements to operations.  He will encourage progress on multilateral negotiations in key issue areas such as fisheries subsidies, an e-commerce work program, tackling needed reforms to the dispute resolution system, and providing a framework for more effective market opening negotiations.  The MC11 action plan should also encourage pursuit of plurilateral initiatives by groups of interested countries when a multilateral negotiation does not have broad support.

USCIB had already begun planning for the Ministerial earlier this year and, most recently, with Senior Vice President Rob Mulligan’s trip to Geneva in September for the WTO’s annual Public Forum and related meetings organized by ICC. The issues mentioned most often in these meetings as having the potential for some type of action at the Ministerial included investment facilitation, fisheries subsidies, e-commerce, services facilitation and agriculture.  However, it also seems that each of these are facing challenges that could prevent a deliverable at MC 11.

“While the Ministerial may not produce a number of deliverables, business engagement will be needed to ensure that the WTO moves forward after the Ministerial on issues that address meaningful concerns with the global trading system,” said Mulligan. “This will be important to preserving the relevance and value of the WTO in opening global markets,” he added.

USCIB Statement on US Withdrawal From Global Compact on Migration

New York, NY, December 4, 2017 – The United States Council for International Business (USCIB), which represents America’s most successful global companies, issued the following statement on U.S. withdrawal from negotiations surrounding the UN Global Compact on Migration:

Like many others in the U.S. business community, USCIB is disappointed by the news that the Administration has elected to withdraw from the UN Global Compact on Migration, which aims to enlist international cooperation to ensure the rights of migrants and refugees, including dissemination of best practices surrounding their access to education and jobs. This non-binding instrument is currently under negotiation and due to be adopted next year.

The U.S. business community regards migration as a positive and necessary phenomenon. It is a vehicle for fulfilling personal aspirations, for balancing labor supply and demand, for supporting competitiveness and sparking innovation, and for transferring and spreading skills.

Companies are frequent and important users of national migration systems. To remain successful and competitive in the global economy, they require clear and consistent migration policies, national laws and procedures in both sending and receiving countries.

The U.S. has benefited immeasurably from the contribution of migrants to our economy and our society. As the home to the largest number of migrants in the world, our government has experience with the practical workings of immigration laws, procedures, and policies that can contribute to a positive international dialogue. Without U.S. leadership, we fear an opportunity will be missed to ensure clear, transparent, and efficient national immigration laws and policies in the U.S. and around the world that permit the movement of workers when and where they are needed.

About USCIB:

USCIB promotes open markets, competitiveness and innovation, sustainable development and corporate responsibility, supported by international engagement and regulatory coherence. Its members include U.S-based global companies and professional service firms from every sector of the economy, with operations in every region of the world. As the U.S. affiliate of several leading international business organizations, including the International Organization of Employers (IOE), USCIB provides business views to policy makers and regulatory authorities worldwide, including through the Business Mechanism to the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD).

Contact:
Jonathan Huneke, USCIB
+1 212.703.5043, jhuneke@uscib.org

US Business Helps Launch First Ever Business Meeting at UN Environment Assembly

President of the UN General Assembly, Miroslav Lascak

The UN Environment Assembly (UNEA), the highest level policy making forum on environment in the UN system, opened its 3rd session under the auspices of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP or UN Environment) on December 4 in Nairobi, Kenya.  Environment Ministers from over 60 countries and delegates from all UN member states are gathered to refocus UN system environmental policy towards combatting pollution and its impacts. 

The overall theme of this session is, “Towards a Pollution Free Planet,” and governments are considering decisions to limit plastic debris in oceans, increase cooperation on air pollution and more closely link environment and health policies, with an emphasis on the “precautionary principle.”  Responding to numerous statements welcoming business involvement at UNEA3 and encouraging greater involvement by business at future UNEA meetings by UN officials and government representatives, USCIB Vice President for Strategic International Engagement, Energy and Environment Norine Kennedy stated, “U.S. business is attending this meeting to keep the focus on infrastructure, alignment with SDGs and enabling frameworks for private sector innovation and investment, and is keen to keep this fruitful dialogue and partnership going.”

USCIB and its members have led the U.S business presence at this session, working closely with the American Chemistry Council, American Plastics Council and Croplife, among others.  USCIB took part in the first ever Science-Policy-Business Forum, and organized for the first time a Global Business Symposium at UNEA with the Global Business Alliance for Environment.   The President of the UN General Assembly, Miroslav Lascak welcomed the business initiative, stating that “Businesses are critical to achieving sustainable development.”

In his presentation at the Business Symposium, Erick Omollo Juma, Novozymes, drew attention to how his accompany is pursuing opportunities to link cooperative implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals and environmental protection through business action.   

Commenting on the examples of business initiatives to reduce risks from pollution during the Business Symposium, Walker Smith, director of global affairs and policy, U.S. Environment Protection Agency (EPA), recognized efforts by USCIB members, including the Walt Disney Company, the Coca-Cola Company, Dow Chemical, IBM and Procter & Gamble, to reduce food and plastic waste, and eliminate lead in paint.  USCIB has worked closely with the U.S, Department of State, EPA and NOAA representatives attending these meetings to reflect U.S. business views and achievements.

As part of her statement on behalf of the Business and Industry Major Group at the UNEA3 Opening Plenary Kennedy stated, “We need tailored specific responses to each source of pollution, reflecting economic and social circumstances. Business emphasizes the importance of building national capacity and infrastructure to address pollution through sound regulation and management, stimulating innovation and seeking pragmatic policy options and partnerships.”

On partnerships, Kennedy noted, “Business in its diversity is a critical part of solutions and investment, and is ready to work with governments and other stakeholders to act on UNEA outcomes to reduce pollution and associated risks – let’s identify practical solutions and policies and get to work.”

USCIB will present and discuss outcomes and next steps from UNEA3 at its next Environment Committee meeting on December 15 in Washington DC.

USCIB Launches Video Highlighting Business for 2030 Initiatives

USCIB held its annual international leadership award gala on November 28th in New York at the United Nations headquarters to honor Mastercard CEO Ajay Banga. The event also served to showcase the private sector’s efforts to align its activities with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including via a new video, “Business Makes It Happen: The Private Sector and the UN Sustainable Development Goals.” The piece spotlights a number of USCIB member companies, for the Business for 2030 web platform launched by USCIB two years ago.

The video showcases select USCIB member initiatives including those from AT&T-DIRECTV, Bechtel, Deloitte, Mastercard, Novozymes and Walmart.

Please visit www.Businessfor2030.org to learn more about what companies are doing to achieve the SDGs.

USCIB 2017 International Leadership Award Dinner Honors Mastercard CEO and Celebrates SDGs

The 2017 USCIB Award dinner at the United Nations. L-R: Terry McGraw (S&P Global), Ajay Banga (Mastercard and 2017 honoree), Amina Mohammed (United Nations), Peter Robinson (USCIB)

At last night’s USCIB 2017 International Leadership Award Dinner, USCIB members and representatives of the international community turned out to honor Mastercard President and CEO Ajay Banga and celebrate the private sector’s contribution to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The dinner, which was held at United Nations headquarters in New York, drew over 220 high-level private sector individuals, UN dignitaries as well as press and featured keynote remarks by UN Deputy Secretary General Amina Mohammed.

“Business leaders are ever more eager to work with governments on the 2030 Development Agenda,” said Mohammed, praising the involvement and “sustained momentum” that has been achieved by the private sector to date. While urging the private sector to continue working towards the achievement of the goals by 2030, she also noted, “The UN itself needs to change since it has not yet fulfilled its full potential.”

USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson, who gave welcoming remarks, highlighted 2017 milestones for the business community in aligning actions with the UN’s 2030 Development Agenda. “This has been a watershed year for American business in terms of focusing its attention on the importance of working effectively with international institutions – not just the UN, but also the G20, OECD, ILO and so many others,” said Robinson. “A key milestone came toward the end of last year, when the International Chamber of Commerce, one of three global business organizations for which USCIB serves as the American affiliate, won top-level Observer Status in the United Nations General Assembly.”

Terry McGraw, chairman of USCIB and chairman emeritus of McGraw Hill (now S&P Financial) echoed Robinson’s sentiments stating, “With elections and changing government leaders and priorities in the United States and literally around the world, it is more important than ever for business to stand up and continue to press forward an agenda that will strengthen important institutions and rules by which we work and trade.” McGraw also specifically acknowledged the role of the UN, noting, “To build a better world, we need institutions like the United Nations to function effectively and harmoniously, representing not just all of their member governments, but all interested stakeholders.”

Ajay Banga (Mastercard) and Eric Roston (Bloomberg News) engage in a fireside chat during the dinner

However the award honoree Banga emphasized that more needs to be done. “More than 2 billion adults around the world don’t have access to formal financial services, and the majority of them are women,” he said. “They have no way to do the things we take for granted – pay a bill, save money for a rainy day, borrow on reasonable terms. They are trapped in a cycle of poverty and faced with systemic barriers to the resources that would allow them change their situations and contribute to the growth and resilience of their communities. The private sector has a major responsibility and role to play in driving financial inclusion and, ultimately, inclusive growth, by bringing investment, innovation and scale to the table.”

The leadership award, which was established in 1980, is presented to a leading CEO, international figure or institution, and recognizes outstanding contributions to global trade, finance and investment, and to improving the global competitive framework in which American business operates. In honoring Banga, USCIB also recognized Mastercard’s leading work in global financial inclusion. Upon accepting the award, Banga was joined by Eric Roston, chief sustainability editor with Bloomberg News, for a “fireside chat” exploring Banga’s thoughts on business leadership and sustainability.

The gala event also served to showcase the private sector’s efforts to align its activities with the SDGs, including via a new video, spotlighting a number of USCIB member companies, for the Business for 2030 web platform launched by USCIB two years ago. Please visit www.Businessfor2030.org to learn more about what companies are doing to achieve the SDGs.

Banga’s other achievements include leadership roles as member of the U.S. President’s Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations and as a founding trustee of the U.S. – India Strategic Partnership Forum. He also served as a member of President Barack Obama’s Commission on Enhancing National Cybersecurity. Prior to Mastercard, Banga was chief executive of Citigroup’s Asia Pacific. He began his career at Nestle in India, where he also spent two years with PepsiCo.