Robinson’s Op-ed in The Hill on Modernizing NAFTA

USCIB President and CEO Peter M. Robinson wrote an Op-ed in The Hill, “How to Modernize NAFTA: First, do no Harm.”

Robinson cites a recent study by the Peterson Institute for International Economics, since the agreement’s implementation, U.S. trade with Canada and Mexico has more than tripled, with a positive impact on U.S. GDP of 0.5 percent, or several billion dollars of added growth per year.

However, he also writes that NAFTA needs to be updated in a way that solidifies the gains Americans have reaped from these transformations, while further enhancing our competitiveness.

The Op-ed is available here.

Potter Gives Statement on Climate Change at ILO Conference

USCIB Senior Counsel Ed Potter is currently attending the International Labor Organization (ILO) International Labor Conference (ILC) in Geneva, Switzerland (June 5-16) as a U.S. employer delegate. The ILC is discussing pressing global issues such as women at work, application of labor standards, peace and stability, migration and climate change.

Potter delivered the following statement on June 12 during the 2017 Plenary Statement on the Director General’s report on behalf of business regarding climate change and the Paris Agreement:

 

2017 Plenary Statement on the Director General’s Report

Adopted in 2015, the Paris Agreement on climate change is now the globally recognized framework for international climate action and represents a reset of the global approach to climate change.  Anything adopted by the ILO on climate change prior to 2015 should be reevaluated in light of the Paris Agreement.   The Paris Agreement is historic because it envisions self-determined actions and pledges by all countries, according to their priorities and resources.  Importantly, it eliminated the binary Kyoto annexes which divided 193 countries into 2 arbitrary categories.

We are concerned by language in the Director General’s Report that seems to over-simplify the challenge ahead, portraying a straightforward “green” vs. “dirty” choice of technologies, industries, products and jobs.  We do not live in a binary “green” job “brown” job world, and similarly we do not have “green” versus “brown” energy or technology.  The reality is more complex, and there are many other stakeholders involved – notably consumers.  The fact is that all industry sectors will need to transition to cleaner and more efficient operations and energy sources.  The scale of transformation required to meet Paris commitments cannot be met without business finding ways to respond to growing populations seeking reliable affordable energy sources to run businesses, schools, hospitals, etc.  Whether the discussion is on ICT and smart grids, or new ways to sequester carbon that could extend the use of fossil fuels while reducing their greenhouse gas emissions, or zero emissions transport, a fuller and more multi-dimensional picture of enterprises is needed.  It is not about the coal miner versus the solar panel installer – it is much more complex.

Transitions will be felt in the business community in the form of opportunities for new industries or products across a wider array of sectors than those normally referred to as “green” through supply and value chains and arising from regulations, costs or innovations that result in more disruptive change or harm to competitiveness.  Without growth and productive employment, there is less room for the successful protection of the environment and the promotion of decent work.  As enterprises are the primary source of job creation, a business-friendly environment remains an essential priority.   Sustainable jobs and sustainable businesses go hand in hand.

The Paris Agreement calls not just on governments but other societal partners, including the business community to act.  The business community has shown strong and continuous commitment to support the Paris Agreement and its implementation.  Delivering the Paris commitments depends on the full engagement of business and employers.  In fact, after my country’s recent withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, nearly 1000 large companies and investors joined a “We Are Still In” movement, representing 120 million Americans and 40 percent of the US economy at the state and municipal level.  Local attitudes are important and matter.

As highlighted in the Director General’s Report, over the past two years. the UNFCCC has launched its work on “Just Transition”.  Yet until last month, the UNFCCC did not adequately or directly involve business and employers on these topics – while the ILO has been consulted throughout, as has the ITUC.  It is only in the last 2 months that business or employer views have been communicated to the UNFCCC via a joint submission by the IOE and ICC, and by IOE and ICC participation in the May 9 Bonn meeting on the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.   The Roundtable highlighted the need for enhanced involvement of employers and the need for direct consultation with them in the future on just transition and other employment related matters.  Tripartism is a cornerstone of this Organization and should apply both inside and outside the ILO.

Much of the Director General’s report focuses on the labor market churn that will occur as a result of the transition from “dirty” to “green” jobs.  The strong impression the reader gets from his Report is that climate change requires a dedicated, special program by the ILO.  Our view is that structural change and job impact of climate change is not at all dissimilar from other ongoing structural change resulting from technological change.  Ask any expert about the future of work and you will hear about a world dominated by artificial intelligence, 3D printing, an on-demand economy, and five generations in a virtual workplace where almost any worker can perform almost any work from anywhere they choose. The ILO approach to climate change needs to be knitted together and treated holistically with other ILO structural change initiatives and the future of work.

Thank you, Mr. President.

 

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.

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.”

Shiles Joins USCIB as Head of ATA Carnet and Trade Services

Andrew Shiles

New York, N.Y., May 16, 2017 – Former FedEx executive and cargo industry veteran Andrew Shiles has joined the United States Council for International Business (USCIB) to lead the association’s dynamic portfolio of trade services, including the “merchandise passports” used by thousands of exporters around the world to get goods through customs quickly and easily.

As senior vice president of ATA Carnet and trade services, Shiles will work to expand U.S. trade interests through promotion of the ATA Carnet program. ATA Carnets are internationally recognized customs documents that permit temporary duty-free, tax-free entry of qualified goods for up to one year. They are used widely to facilitate entry of goods for trade shows, product samples and professional equipment.

“Andy Shiles brings extensive experience to this position,” said USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson. “He has in-depth knowledge of trade and customs affairs, including ATA Carnet, and relationships with clients ranging from multinational corporations to SMEs to freight forwarders. In addition, Andy has strong connections with U.S. Customs, and has engaged in a number of important industry trade associations.”

USCIB manages and guarantees the ATA Carnet system in the United States, with responsibility for issuing ATA Carnets falling to two outside service providers, Roanoke Trade and the Corporation for International Business. ATA Carnets are accepted in 84 countries and territories, while the global ATA systems is overseen by the World Customs Organization (WCO) and the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC). USCIB serves as ICC’s American national committee.

Shiles comes to USCIB following more than 30 years at FedEx Express, the world’s largest air express cargo company, most recently as global regulatory compliance manager, where he served on USCIB’s Customs and Trade Facilitation Committee. His leadership experience in global supply-chain management includes participation in U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Simplified Entry Working Group, which redesigned and implemented the current entry-clearance process into the United States.

Shiles also has extensive experience working with multiple government agencies, including the Food and Drug Administration, Department of Agriculture and Consumer Product Safety Commission. A self-professed “Yankee with a Southern accent,” Shiles was born in Manhattan and raised in the Southwest and in Tennessee, where he received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Memphis. He is a member of the International Compliance Professionals Association and the American Association of Exporters and Importers.

Find out more about the services offered by USCIB to facilitate cross-border trade and investment at www.uscib.org.

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

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. With a unique global network encompassing 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.

Like it or Not, UN Needs Private Sector Input in Climate Talks

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

USCIB Vice President Norine Kennedy has an op-ed in The Hill today urging UN negotiators not to freeze the business community out of future discussion of climate change. The full text of the op-ed is available on The Hill’s website.

Kennedy, who attended the latest UN climate talks in Bonn last week, worked closely with the U.S. and other governments, as well as numerous business groups including the International Chamber of Commerce, to push back against proposals by a few governments and NGOs to curtail private-sector participation under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

 


 

The Hill

May 15, 2017

Like it or Not, UN Needs Private Sector Input in Climate Talks

By Norine Kennedy

BONN, GERMANY—As the current round of U.N. climate talks here in Bonn near their conclusion, delegates are allowing themselves a sense of cautious relief. The Trump administration has postponed a final decision on its continued involvement in the UN climate treaty – and the Paris Agreement concluded in 2015 – until after this meeting concludes on May 18. A hard-working, albeit smaller-than-usual, U.S. delegation is on hand, and the talks are moving ahead on a range of technical matters.

(Read the full text on The Hill’s website.)

 

 

USCIB in the News: Business and the UN Climate Process

USCIB Vice President Norine Kennedy and CEO Peter Robinson at COP21 in 2015.

The Financial Times has published a letter to the editor from USCIB Vice President Norine Kennedy on the role of business in the UN climate change talks — please see below. The op-ed is also available on the FT’s website.

Publication of this letter comes as UN members gather in Bonn, Germany for talks leading up to this December’s COP23 summit. A few governments and interest groups have called for new rules aimed at restricting the private sector’s participation in the UN climate process. Kennedy’s letter forcefully rebuts these efforts.


Financial Times

May 4, 2017

Letter

Business takes its climate responsibilities seriously

From Norine Kennedy, New York, NY, US

Sir, Regarding “Developing nations seek to reveal business influence on climate talks” (May 1): the UN is at its best when it opens its doors to all relevant stakeholders. Potential conflicts of interest pertain to all organisations, not just business associations. Business representatives are obliged to abide by all UN rules as a condition of their attendance at UN meetings.

We take this responsibility seriously. Just two years ago, my organisation joined others from around the world in celebrating the Paris Climate Agreement. The political will needed to reach consensus in Paris was spurred in part by support from business. Now, disappointingly, some wish to disinvite the private sector.

Since it is business that will deliver the lion’s share of the investment and innovation needed to confront the climate challenge — a fact recognised in the Paris Agreement — shouldn’t the conversation include business representatives? How else can governments and other stakeholders develop effective policy frameworks to unlock potentially game-changing solutions?

Norine Kennedy
Vice President, Energy and Environment,
United States Council for International Business,
New York, NY, US

USCIB Op-Ed: Time for Some ‘Tough Love’ at the UN

U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley (credit: U.S. Mission to the UN)

The Hill has published an op-ed by USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson on UN reform — see below. The op-ed is also available on The Hill’s website.

This op-ed follows on a letter to the New York Times on the same topic last month, as well as an op-ed on UN funding in January. It further advances USCIB’s position that the UN must work more effectively with the private sector and other stakeholders to advance shared goals.

 

The Hill

May 1, 2017

Opinion

Ambassador Haley needs to dole out some ‘tough love’ to United Nations

By Peter Robinson, opinion contributor

Critics of the United Nations are gaining ground in Washington. Proposals to defund and disengage from the U.N. have been put forward on Capitol Hill and by the Trump administration in its proposed budget.

As a longtime observer of, and participant in the U.N. representing the American business community, I’d like to offer some unsolicited advice to Ambassador Nikki R. Haley, the U.S. representative to the U.N., on how we could work to improve the global body.

The U.N. deserves a lot of the criticism being leveled at it. Many observers, myself included, acknowledge that parts of the U.N. system often suffer from poor management, an inability to efficiently set and meet priorities and the tendency to take an unbalanced view toward certain stakeholders.

This is evident in the organization’s attitude toward the private sector. There have indeed been positive experiences, such as in the U.N. 2030 Development Agenda, where the U.N. is reaching out to the private sector to meet commonly agreed goals of poverty reduction, environmental protection and better governance.

But too often, in many parts of the U.N. system, the business community is still regarded with suspicion, and its motives are called into question or criticized as a conflict of interest. With criticism of the U.N. on the rise, now is the time for the United States to push for effective reform. Here are four areas where the U.S. could exercise some “tough love” in the United Nations.

First, insist on good management. Financial resources are scarce, and we need to know that our taxpayer dollars are being used wisely. New U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres has pledged to make the organization leaner and more effective.

Work with him to increase the ability of the U.N. Office of Internal Oversight Services to act as a truly independent “inspector general” throughout the U.N. system, with direct reporting back to U.N. governing bodies authorized to take specific action on recommendations.

Second, demand more transparency and accountability. The U.N. has taken steps to open its doors to non-governmental entities, but much more needs to be done, particularly from the standpoint of the business community. Too often, the U.N. sets global norms and standards with little or no input from outside stakeholders, including the private sector.

This is unfortunate, especially given the extent to which business is looked to for funding, innovation and implementation in such areas as climate change, improved nutrition and better health care. In addition, some U.N. agencies, such as the World Health Organization, actively blacklist business organizations from even observing their activities. This damages the U.N.’s credibility and effectiveness.

Third, ensure the U.N. avoids redundancy and mission creep. While the U.N. plays a central role in global governance, it cannot and should not do everything or have the final say. United Nations negotiators are sometimes too eager to take up issues already being addressed elsewhere, like in global taxation, data and privacy issues, or intellectual property rights.

This not only wastes government time and money, it creates uncertainty and confusion for companies and everyone else. The U.S. should guide the U.N. and its specialized agencies to focus their resources on areas where they can add the most value and where they have a clear mandate.

One way to do this would be to develop stricter guidelines for voluntary contributions from member states, which are usually funds over and above assessed contributions for pet projects that often deviate from an agency’s mission.

Fourth, and perhaps most important, encourage the U.N. to partner with the private sector. Governments can’t do everything. The World Bank estimates that effectively tackling global problems of poverty, health, job creation and energy access will require trillions of dollars over the next 15 years, with much of that coming from the private sector in the form of project finance and foreign investment.

But this won’t happen if business views are sidelined or ignored. The U.S. should spur the U.N. to step up its partnerships with companies in such areas as innovation, infrastructure and investment.

Ambassador Haley should focus especially on U.N. agencies and bodies that have kept the business community in the dark or at arm’s length. Organizations such as the WHO and U.N. Human Rights Commission have drifted away from their core agendas and have enacted counterproductive restrictions on business — a key community which is keen to bring resources, expertise and implementation to advance their respective missions.

We should insist on inclusive and transparent governance in the U.N., with an open door for responsible actors from civil society, including the private sector.

The United Nations has made important progress, and it must continue to seek out new opportunities for collaboration that can improve lives and increase prosperity in the United States and around the world.  But none of this can happen if the United States is not at the table. The U.N. was in large part an American creation. It’s going to be up to us to try to fix it.

Peter M. Robinson is president and CEO of the United States Council for International Business.

 

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.

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).