Giblin Attends ICC Customs, Trade Meetings in Dubai

USCIB’s Megan Giblin (center, second row) along with business colleagues from ICC-UAE in Dubai

USCIB’s Director for Customs and Trade Facilitation Megan Giblin was in Dubai last week attending ICC-UAE and Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry co-hosted Customs and Trade Facilitation Forum. The Forum discussed a wide range of topics including Trade Digitalization, the World Trade Organization (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) and the Gulf Cooperation Council value-added Tax Implementation Framework.

The UAE was the first country in the Arab world to ratify the WTO’s TFA, which entered into force earlier this year and promises to boost global trade flows by over $1 trillion this year and generate opportunities for easier, less costly cross-border trade.

According to Giblin, this meeting was a tremendous opportunity for the international business community to discuss the role the private sector can play to ensure effective implementation of the TFA and its potential for investment and regional supply chains.

B20-L20 Delivers Joint Statement to G20 Labor Ministers

The B20 and L20 presented a joint statement at a G20 labor ministers dinner on May 17 in Bad Neuenahr, Germany which was attended by USCIB Senior Counsel Ronnie Goldberg. Linda Kromjong, IOE’s secretary general and Sharan Burrow, ITUC’s secretary general, jointly presented the statement to the ministers and all B20 and L20 signatories at the handover ceremony  to German Federal Minister of Labor and Social Affairs Andrea Nahles.

This year’s statement builds on the IOE/BIAC and ITUC/TUAC statement from last year with a specific focus on sustainable growth, decent work and social cohesion in the digital economy.

In line with the key priorities of the G20 German presidency, the statement reinforces the important role that business and labor have in shaping policies that not only maximize the opportunities for employment creation, but that also minimize adverse effects on employment and working conditions. Given the special focus on the digital economy, the recommendations in the statement are linked to the impact of technological change on employment and call on governments to grab the chances that technological change presents as well as address its challenges.

To harness the opportunities of technological advancements, it is important that technology is widely diffused so that businesses can maximize the potential of its use. This will facilitate the creation of an agile business environment that can offer growth of income opportunities in all of its forms in the formal economy.

Going forward, the workforce using new technology needs to be well equipped for the new digital age. This requires taking a fresh approach to education, up- and re-skilling and ensuring that all individuals have access to opportunities that allow them to continually upgrade their skills. The B20/L20 joint understanding on key elements of quality apprenticeships, the G20 Skills Strategy as well as the G20 Apprenticeship Initiative clearly have a key role to play in modernizing existing training systems.

Countdown to UN High-Level Political Forum: Ending Hunger, SDG 2

This year’s United Nations High-Level Political Forum (UN HLPF) on sustainable development will be held from July 10-17 under the auspices of the Economic and Social Council. The theme for the forum will be “Eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity in a changing world” focusing in part on Sustainable Development Goal 2: ending hunger and ensuring access by all people to safe, nutritious and sufficient food all year round.

As part of USCIB’s countdown to the UN HLPF, USCIB is highlighting some initiatives that its member companies are working on to end poverty in all its forms, while subsequently meeting the SDG targets set by the UN. These examples can be found on USCIB’s Business for 2030 website. An impactful project to note is one initiative by McDonald’s and Sustainable Coffee. McDonald’s supports sustainable agricultural production at every aspect of the supply chain. Teaming up with the international non-profit TechnoServe and the Sustainable Commodities Assistance Network (SCAN), McDonald’s trains 13,000 farmers in Guatemala and Central America to produce coffee more sustainably while simultaneously increasing crop yields. This added technical assistance will help strengthen the local economy, improving the lives of many smallholders.

Tune in for next week, when we will highlight company initiatives on Goal 3: ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for all at all ages.

USCIB’s Customs Chair Writes on Trade, Customs in Adam Smith Project

USCIB’s Customs and Trade Facilitation Committee Chair and Vice President of Government and Trade Relations at Hanesbrands Jerry Cook recently posted commentary on the Adam Smith Project blog (formerly known as the American Shipper column).

The commentary urges all World Trade Organization (WTO) members to take necessary steps to join the World Customs Organization’s (WCO) Harmonized System Convention or commit to using it as the basis of the national customs tariff as well as commit to implementing the 2017 Harmonized System in a timely manner, seeking technical assistance from the WCO when applicable.

“The business world likes certainty,” Cook writes. “Understanding the factors that go into such landed costs as customs duties are key to assessing production and distribution costs. If there is any uncertainty over the common language of international trade, it can mean headaches, delay and extra cost.”

Read his commentary on the Adam Smith Project.

USCIB Delivers Statement on Trade Deficit at Commerce

Eva Hampl delivers testimony on behalf of USCIB at U.S. Department of Commerce

As the Trump administration seeks to reorient U.S. trade policy toward bilateral agreements, bilateral trade deficits have been put forward as a marker of the health — or lack thereof — of U.S. commercial relations with a given country. USCIB has taken up this issue in a recent statement to the Department of Commerce, as well as a public testimony that was delivered by USCIB’s Director for Investment, Trade, and Financial Services Eva Hampl on May 18 at the Department of Commerce.

In her testimony, Hampl emphasized USCIB’s view that trade deficits are a product of broader macroeconomic factors, not trade policy, and that the trade balance should not be viewed as a straightforward indicator of a country’s economic health. “While it is useful to address trade barriers that impede access for U.S. goods and services exporters to specific markets, we should not set up bilateral trade balances as the metric of successful trade policies,” she said.

Hampl concluded with 5 USCIB recommendations for the Administration:

  • Examine the trade deficit within the broader set of macroeconomic factors that determine it and include all elements of trade in the analysis, instead of focusing solely on bilateral manufactured goods trade balances.
  • Work with experts around the U.S. Government, international organizations, and academia to get the best data possible to guide the best policy making. We need much better measurements of real trade flows and value added, including in complex global supply chains and in services. We also need better data on FDI flows, both inward and outward.
  • Move aggressively to open foreign markets, and identify and combat foreign trade barriers to increase U.S. exports and improve our trade balance. We support the use of appropriate enforcement tools including the WTO, bilateral and regional trade agreements, U.S. trade laws, and efforts to open those markets and to combat illegal foreign subsidies and dumping into the United States.
  • Accelerate U.S. Government “commercial diplomacy” efforts to support U.S. companies competing to win deals overseas.
  • Reform the U.S. Government’s economic policies, including tax reform, regulatory reform, and energy development, to bolster the competitiveness of our firms, allowing them to win more and bigger deals overseas.

 

Kennedy Delivers Pro-Business Messages at UN Climate Meeting

USCIB’s Norine Kennedy at the UN climate talks in Bonn

USCIB’s expert on climate change and environment, Norine Kennedy attended the most recent UN climate change negotiations in Bonn, Germany from May 8-18. Kennedy participated at the 46th session of the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI 46) which included a Workshop on Non-State Actors, at which she delivered a statement on behalf of Business and Industry groups attending the UN meetings on technology, implementation and the Paris Agreement.   Conclusions from the SBI focus on enabling frameworks for public and private sector climate action, and as such have important implications for the Paris Agreement.

On May 9, Kennedy participated in the SBI Workshop on Non-State Actors which was organized to explore new forms of engagement by business and other non-governmental groups.  Some developing country representatives and non-governmental groups advocated a limit or ban on business observers based on a distorted interpretation of “conflict of interest,” citing the World Health Organization’s Framework of Engagement for Non-State Actors (WHO FENSA) as a model.   However, government delegations from Australia, Canada, the EU, Norway, the U.S. and others spoke strongly in favor of full inclusiveness and the necessity of keeping business involved in the Paris Agreement.

“The purpose of this discussion is to extend inclusion and substantive cooperation, not to create a tribunal,” Kennedy cautioned during her intervention. “Most business groups are subject to abundant requirements for transparency in their national settings and then again here at the UNFCCC. There is almost no possibility of misrepresenting interests or members.  Governments and others know what the business interests are when they directly hear from them and they take that into account accordingly.”

Kennedy repeated and elaborated on these recommendations in an Op-Ed on TheHill.com on the importance of business participation in intergovernmental climate deliberations and partnerships, and was subsequently quoted by the New York Times and Le Monde. “The reason we were able to get the Paris Agreement in the first place was that the UN was willing to open their doors to a whole range of stakeholders, including business,” she stated in a May 16 New York Times piece entitled, “’Vulnerable Voices’ Lash Out as Companies Sway Climate Talks.”

USCIB Meets With Secretary of Labor Acosta and Other U.S. Officials at CBP and State

L-R: Chair of USCIB Customs Committee, Jerry Cook (Hanesbrands), Acting Commissioner Kevin McAleenan (U.S. Customs and Border Protection) and Peter Robinson (USCIB)

USCIB President and CEO Peter M. Robinson  was in Washington earlier this month for several high-level meetings with key U.S. government officials, including one with the new Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta. Robinson was joined by USCIB’s Senior Vice President for Policy and Government Affairs Rob Mulligan and USCIB Senior Counsel Ronnie Goldberg. The meeting focused on preparations for the G20 Labor and Employment Ministers meeting in Bad Neuenahr, Germany, as well as the Global Employers Summit and “B20/L20” dinner meeting the day before. Robinson raised the recent recommendations of the B20 Labor and Employment taskforce on which he serves as a Co-Chair.

Acosta and USCIB’s representatives discussed ways to highlight U.S. government and business leadership in Business at OECD’s work on women’s participation in the workforce, as well as the ILO’s work on apprenticeships. “We look forward to working with Secretary Acosta on these and other important issues for our members and invited him to speak to our Corporate Responsibility and Labor Affairs Committee in the fall,” said Robinson. USCIB also teamed up with the Department of Labor to support a social media campaign around the G20 labor ministerial on how governments can do a better job of matching training and skills development with the needs of employers.

Robinson also met with Acting Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection Kevin McAleenan, who has been nominated by President Trump to serve as commissioner. Robinson was joined by USCIB staff and several member company representatives including the chair of the USCIB Customs Committee, Jerry Cook, who is vice president for government and trade relations at Hanesbrands. “USCIB expressed strong support for the work of CBP and its team, noting USCIB’s longstanding engagement with CBP on customs policy issues as well as the ATA Carnet program—a unique relationship as a business partner covering policy and operations,” said Megan Giblin USCIB’s director for customs and trade facilitation. During the meeting, USCIB member representatives identified various issue areas of concern related to customs valuation, implementation of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement, engagement with the work of the World Customs Organization, and continued progress and eventually closure on ACE, forced labor, e-commerce, and more. Acting Commissioner McAleenan said he is committed to working closely with USCIB in pursuing his goals for CBP as well as working with us to address our objectives.

Finally, Robinson also met with Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs Patricia Haslach. A number of member companies again joined the USCIB team for this meeting to discuss a range of concerns with the attitudes of many international organizations towards business engagement and the need for the U.S. government to counter some of the negative trends. USCIB Vice President Norine Kennedy, calling in from the UN climate change meetings in Bonn, noted the mounting effort by NGOs and some governments to exclude business from the climate change talks. Others noted that these efforts are following on from policies adopted at the World Health Organization last year to limit business participation in health-related policy discussions. The discussion also covered recent UN work on access to medicine and World Bank efforts to foster national networks instead of working with the private sector on payment systems. Ambassador Haslach promised to work with USCIB in tackling these issues. “To be effective, it will be critical that the U.S. government is part of the discussions at these international organizations,” noted Robinson.

UN High Level Political Forum Countdown: Ending Poverty

This year’s United Nations High-Level Political Forum (UN HLPF) on sustainable development will be held from July 10-17 under the auspices of the Economic and Social Council. The theme for the forum will be “Eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity in a changing world” focusing in part on Sustainable Development Goal 1: ending poverty in all its forms everywhere.

As part of USCIB’s countdown to the UN HLPF, USCIB is highlighting some initiatives that its member companies are working on to end poverty in all its forms, while subsequently meeting the SDG targets set by the UN. These examples can be found on USCIB’s Business for 2030 website and highlight initiatives by DuPont, MasterCard and Qualcomm.

Tune in for next week, when we will highlight company initiatives on Goal 2: ending hunger, achieving food security and improving nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.

Industry Appeals to China on Cybersecurity Law

With China’s broad cybersecurity law set to take effect next month, USCIB has joined with a range of industry groups from the United States and other countries in appealing for the country to delay its entry into force. Among other things, the new law would give law enforcement enhanced authority to access private data and require data to be stored servers located in China.

In a joint letter, the business groups said they are “deeply concerned that current and pending security-related rules will effectively erect trade barriers along national boundaries that effectively bar participation in your market and affect companies across industry sectors that rely on information technology goods and services to conduct business.”

The letter called on China to ensure that cybersecurity regulations comply with China’s World Trade Organization (WTO) commitments and encourage the adoption of international models that support China’s development as a global hub for technology and services.

USCIB Weighs in With Administration on Trade Deficits

With the Trump administration seeking to reorient U.S. trade policy toward bilateral agreements, bilateral trade deficits have been put forward as a marker of the health — or lack thereof — of U.S. commercial relations with a given country. USCIB has taken up this issue in a recent statement to the Department of Commerce.

In its statement, USCIB said: “On the specific issue of trade deficits, particularly bilateral deficits (or surpluses) with individual countries, USCIB supports the view of most mainstream economists, who are convinced that trade deficits are a product of broader macroeconomic factors, not trade policy, and that the trade balance should not be viewed as a straightforward indicator of a country’s economic health. While it is useful to address trade barriers that impede access for U.S. goods and services exporters to specific markets, we should not set up bilateral trade balances as the metric of successful trade policies.”

Furthermore, the USCIB statement argued for greater attention to trade in services, not just goods, in any analysis of trade balances. “In the United States, services account for almost 80% of GDP, and services jobs account for more than 80% of private sector employment,” USCIB said. “Accordingly, a trade policy focused solely on trade deficits in manufacturing is misleading.”

The Commerce Department is expected to hold hearings on trade deficits later this week.