BIAC Holds Annual Consultation With OECD Ambassadors

BIAC Secretary General Bernhard Welschke and BIAC Chair Phil O’Reilly address Secretary General Angel Gurria and OECD Ambassadors

BIAC held its annual consultation with OECD Ambassadors last month, providing an opportunity for the business community to identify priorities for the OECD agenda that affect both the private sector and governments. Senior business leaders discussed the OECD Secretary General and Ambassadors timely challenges and ways forward in global markets. This annual consultation is part of BIAC’s active advocacy with top OECD officials and governments throughout the year.

The consultation focused on outlining appropriate macro-economic and regulatory policies to strengthen growth, defending and promoting trade and investment for competitiveness, addressing tax uncertainty to boost investment, seizing the benefits of innovation and the digital economy, strengthening human capital to build dynamic inclusive economies, and including business in development and a clean environment.

A full report from the consultations can be found here.

ICC Welcomes New Court Secretary General and Deputy Secretary General

The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) has recently announced the appointment of Alexander G. Fessas as secretary general of the ICC International Court of Arbitration (“ICC Court”) and director of ICC Dispute Resolution Services and Ana Serra e Moura as deputy secretary general of the ICC Court. They will succeed Andrea Carlevaris and José Ricardo Feris, respectively, who are returning to private practice at the end of May.

Fessas, a Cypriot national born in Athens, currently serves as managing counsel and is the third most senior member of the ICC Court’s Secretariat. He started his career with ICC working as deputy counsel in the Eastern European team in 2011. He was later promoted to counsel, first in charge of the North American team and later in charge of the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East team. Before joining ICC, Fessas was an associate at Stelios Koussoulis & Partners, an Athens-based law firm until 2007, and a sole practitioner thereafter.

Moura, in turn, currently serves as counsel in charge of Latin America and the Iberian Peninsula. She joined ICC as deputy counsel of the same team in 2011. Moura is also the project manager of the opening of the ICC Court Secretariat’s office in Sao Paulo, which will be announced shortly. She is admitted to the Portuguese Bar. She obtained her law degree from the Universidade Católica Portuguesa in Lisbon and furthered her studies at the Instituto de Empresa Law School in Madrid. In addition to Portuguese, her native language, she speaks English, Spanish and French. Moura has ample experience in both commercial and investment arbitration, as well as commercial and corporate law.

For additional information on their appointments, please see this ICC Press Release.


New OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Garment and Footwear Sector

The OECD recently released new due diligence guidance for supply chains in the garment and footwear sector. The guide can be found here. The guide is the result of a multi-stakeholder process and aims to help companies identify and prevent potential negative impacts related to human rights, labor, the environment and corruption in garment and footwear supply chains worldwide. The guide is in line with the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

The OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises – the broader code of conduct for business – are the oldest and most comprehensive set of recommendations for business, covering all areas of business ethics, human rights, labour rights, corruption, and environment degradation, among others. The guidelines were originally adopted in 1976 and have been updated on several occasions since then to ensure their continued relevance. The OECD has also developed tailored guidance to help enterprises build responsible supply chains in other sectors, specifically: extractives, minerals from conflict-affected and high-risk areas, agriculture, and finance.

ICC’s Danilovich Writes in FT on Importance of Services to American Economy

The Financial Times has published a letter to the editor from ICC Secretary General John Danilovich on the importance of services to the American economy. Danilovich, who has served as U.S. ambassador to Brazil and Costa Rica, writes that “tit-for-tat trade responses sparked by new border taxes could come at a considerable cost for the U.S. services sector– and the growing number of Americans whose livelihoods depend on it. When it comes to trade policy, nostalgia is no substitute for the realities of today’s global economy.”

To read Danilovich’s letter in the FT, please visit this link (subscriber log-in is required).

USCIB Urges Secretary Tillerson to Push for UN Accountability

USCIB’s President and CEO Peter M. Robinson issued a letter last week to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson outlining principles and priority areas for President Trump Administration’s posture and involvement in international environmental policy and forums. The letter recommends an assessment of U.S. engagement in the international environmental arena and proposes an ongoing dialogue with U.S. business groups familiar with those deliberations to inform the Administration.  While a growing number of United Nations (UN) agencies are increasingly restricting the private sector and excluding business representatives from key meetings, USCIB’s statement urges the Administration to insist that UN bodies conduct their work with transparency and accountability to economic stakeholders in the United States.

USCIB’s letter is timely given Tillerson’s first international trip this week as Secretary to the Group of 20 (G20) meetings in Bonn, Germany. According to the Chicago Tribune, Secretary Tillerson will meet G20 envoys in Bonn to discuss the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and climate change.

USCIB’s Vice President for Strategic International Engagement, Energy and Environment Norine Kennedy commented on the importance of maintaining a strong U.S. presence noting that “The proliferation of environmental and climate change policies on the global agenda demands that the Administration remain an active member of the international environmental community to further and defend U.S. business and economic interests, while tackling climate change and other universal environmental challenges.”

Upcoming ICC Arbitration Events

The International Chamber of Commerce Court of Arbitration will be hosting two upcoming events in San Francisco and Washington DC.

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.

ICC Institute Masterclass for Arbitrators: Overview of fundamentals and best practices related to serving as an arbitrator

Registration is now open for the upcoming ICC Institute Masterclass for Arbitrators: Overview of fundamentals and best practices related to serving as an arbitrator.

Date: March 13-15, 2017

Location: Washington, DC

This advanced level training will provide participants with an opportunity to gain a deeper insight into some of the provisions of the 2012 ICC Rules of Arbitration while learning about the latest developments and best practices related to serving as an international arbitrator.

Topics to include:
• The role and appointment of arbitrators
• Establishing the arbitrator’s authority to create a suitable working framework
• Conduct of the proceedings and case management techniques
• Mock arbitral tribunal to explore issues pertaining to relations between arbitrators
• Drafting enforceable awards and scrutiny by the ICC International Court of Arbitration

Who should attend:
• Practitioners who have significant experience in international commercial arbitration as counsel, but little or no experience as arbitrators.
• Arbitrators who wish to reinforce their knowledge.

Registration and event details are available on this website.

USCIB’s Shaun Donnelly Educates US Government on BIAC-OECD

Shaun DonnellyThe State Department’s Bureau of Economic and Business (EB) Affairs organized a day-long training session February 15 for sixty U.S. Government officials from nearly twenty U.S. Government agencies on how to be an effective Delegate when representing the U.S. Government at OECD committee meetings and other sessions in Paris.  State invited USCIB Vice President Shaun Donnelly to represent business and broader “stakeholder” groups on a panel that also included representatives from OECD’s Washington Center as well as former OECD Secretariat and U.S. Mission staffers.

Shaun is a former U.S. Ambassador and senior economic policy official at State with long experience in a variety of OECD meetings.  He explained the role of the OECD’s three recognized “stakeholder” organizations, the Business and Industry Advisory Committee (BIAC), Trade Union Advisory Council (TUAC), and OECD Watch representing civil society groups.

Focusing on BIAC, Shaun explained BIAC’s extensive efforts to provide constructive, real-time input from its international business members across the broad swath of OECD’s committee and working groups.  Shaun emphasized USCIBs role as “the single US business voice in the BIAC and OECD process” and reminded the staff from around the USG of USCIB’s ability to connect them with the U.S. private sector and help advance U.S. interests in the OECD.

NAFTA Renegotiation an Opportunity to Modernize 20 Year-Old Agreement

North American Union, NAU concept on a gears, 3D renderingPresident Trump’s promise to rewrite the North American Free Trade Agreement is already rattling some companies and rippling across the Mexican economy. Growth in the country’s GDP is projected to slow to a crawl in 2017, according to the Wall Street Journal. Exports account for a third of the country’s economic activity, and some 80 percent of these go to the U.S.

Depending on how it is handled, renegotiating NAFTA could provide an opportunity to update the agreement, according to USCIB Senior Vice President Rob Mulligan. “There are aspects of NAFTA that could be improved, and provisions that could be added to address important economic changes over the last 20 years,” he observed. “But it would be critical to keep those provisions that have enabled U.S. companies to grow during that time as well.”

Mulligan said USCIB was canvassing several of its committees to see where NAFTA could be improved upon – and what “red lines” exist for companies in terms of rolling back or overturning certain key provisions in the landmark agreement.

NAFTA was the first U.S. trade agreement to include binding rules on labor and environmental protections – although these were included in a side agreement, and they have been incorporated into all U.S. trade agreements negotiated since. In addition, NAFTA included strong investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) provisions – a key factor in gaining American business support for the agreement in light of a legacy of expropriations in Mexico and elsewhere.

A $127 annual boost to the U.S. economy

Eva Hampl, USCIB’s director of trade, investment and financial services, reports that a well-attended program last week hosted by the Washington International Trade Association included presentations on priorities for NAFTA renegotiation from USCIB member companies and others in the business community. Ralph Carter (FedEx), emphasized that Mexico and Canada are the United States’ second- and third-largest trading partners, and he cited a Peterson Institute study indicating that NAFTA brings the US $127 billion per year in additional income.

Carter said that FedEx wants to help modernize cross-border trade. Consider, he said, that it takes an average of 17 hours and three different drivers for a single truck to cross the U.S.-Mexico border. Or that the “de minimis” threshold for expedited, duty-free entry of goods stands at $800 for the United States, but  only $50 for Mexico and $15 for Canada — creating barriers for “just-in-time” delivery of many components. A more seamless border, Carter emphasized, does not mean a less secure border – both can be achieved through smart reform efforts.

Looking northward, President Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau today agreed on the broad importance of U.S.-Canada commercial relations. “We recognize our profound shared economic interests, and will work tirelessly to provide growth and jobs for both countries,” the leaders said in a joint statement. “Canada is the most important foreign market for 35 U.S. states, and more than $2 billion in two-way trade flows across our shared border every day. Millions of American and Canadian middle-class jobs, including in the manufacturing sector, depend on our partnership. We affirm the importance of building on this existing strong foundation for trade and investment and further deepening our relationship, with the common goal of strengthening the middle class.”

USCIB Partners With Ethical Corporation for Responsible Business Summit

USCIB is proud to partner with the Ethical Corporation in organizing the 5th Responsible Business Summit in NY. The Summit will take place March 27-28 at the Marriott Brooklyn Bridge. The 2017 conference brings the best, the most innovative and most inspiring brands in responsible business to New York. Click here to see the full agenda.

200+ attendees learn how to deliver purpose for commercial success, the environment and stakeholders.

What you will learn:

  • 3 tracks: In 2017, our aim is to ensure you deliver purpose in the most practical way with 90 minute workshops, live polling and over 15 case studies across 3 dedicated tracks: make the business case, influence culture and accelerating progress.
  • CEOs inspire agenda: in our most senior line-up to date, we have the largest number of CEOs, board members and government leaders sharing their responsible business strategy from North America’s most inspiring and innovative brands.
  • 200+ in attendance: If you are looking for one sustainability meeting to attend in 2017, #RBSNY will be sure to give you the most senior networking opportunity possible.

The conference is currently offering a discount of $100 if you register by March 3rd. Click here to register.


USCIB Customs Chair Jerry Cook Featured in American Shipper

USCIB’s Customs and Trade Facilitation Committee Chair and Vice President of Government and Trade Relations with Hanesbrands Jerry Cook has recently been featured in American Shipper, publishing a commentary on trade in 2017. Cook writes, “despite predictions that trade will have a diminished future, the reality will likely be much more intense for those managing international supply chains and are responsible for their customs and export compliance.” Cook cites the expectation of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) entering into force as well as potential actions to reopen the North American Free Trade Agreement as forces that will promote growth in 2017.

Cook concludes with an optimistic tone writing that “it is an exciting time for the trade community. The standard is changing, and we can seize the opportunity to manage for success. We need to regain control of our future and work to build that future by upgrading the tools we use, as well as the norms by which we operate.”

Click here to read the rest of his commentary on the American Shipper website.