USCIB Discourages Regulatory Overreach in Comments to ITU

USCIB filed comments with the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) last week as part of the ITU’s public consultation on “Public Policy considerations for OTTs,” urging the ITU to avoid expanding its jurisdiction to include Internet-related issues. The public policy aspects of OTT services have been identified as a priority by several governments in the ITU. The U.S. government considers OTT services to offer a range of economic benefits, including increased consumer choice, increased use of underlying networks, and contributions to further innovation and investment.  However, other countries view OTT services as adjuncts to traditional telecommunications services, and should therefore be subject to regulation.

USCIB’s comments emphasized the importance of staying true to the ITU’s primarily technical mission in developing international telecommunication standards and allocating spectrum, and not expanding the ITU’s work program to include Internet-related issues that are well beyond its remit, core competencies, and budgetary resources. Such issues are most effectively addressed in multistakeholder forums, where policy is holistically and expertly informed by consultations among business, civil society, the technical community, and government, USCIB stated. USCIB  further highlighted the promise of innovative online services and applications for economic, developmental, and societal benefits, which will help to realize many of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

“An enabling environment for continued innovation and investment in these services is crucial,” noted USCIB Vice President Barbara Wanner. “In this regard, market-driven solutions and voluntary, industry-led standards best ensure a healthy digital ecosystem,” she said.

The ITU will consider contributions from USCIB and others at a face-to-face open consultation, which will be held in Geneva on September 18, 2017.

USCIB’s “International Business” Summer 2017 Issue

USCIB’s “International Business” Summer 2017 issue is now live!

The Summer 2017 issue features USCIB President and CEO Peter M. Robinson‘s column on “Why International Organizations Matter to Your Business” as well as articles on developments in the B20, NAFTA and the UN high level political forum and the sustainable development agenda, plus news from our global network–Business at OECD, the International Organization of Employers and the International Chamber of Commerce.

“International Business,” USCIB’s quarterly journal, provides essential insight into major trade and investment topics, a high-level overview of USCIB policy advocacy and services, USCIB member news and updates from our global business network.

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USCIB’s Global Impact: 2017 Update on Advocacy

Welcome to USCIB’s Global Impact – an update on USCIB’s advocacy activities around the world in support of your interests. USCIB was at the table, along with many of our members, at key international deliberations– all for the express purpose of ensuring that the voice of U.S. business is heard where policies and regulations affecting your bottom line are determined.

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At a Glance

USCIB President and CEO Out Front for American Business: USCIB President & CEO, Peter Robinson’s leadership at the B20 and OECD Week.

Keeping Markets Open for U.S. Business: With uncertainty regarding trade agreements due to political developments at home and abroad, one thing remains certain: international markets need to be open for U.S. companies. USCIB was on the ground meeting with officials from the OECD and WTO pressing for strong investment agreements and the removal of trade barriers, all in support of U.S. jobs.

Advocating for a Continued Open and Dynamic Internet: Cross-border trade in digital goods and services has grown 45-fold over the past decade. USCIB was at ICANN and the OECD advocating for policies that do not hamper innovation and that allow the Internet and broader digital economy to realize the tremendous potential to create economic opportunity and address social challenges.

Safeguarding the Role of Business in Environment and Climate Change Policy: An increasing number of multilateral organizations are considering proposals to keep business out of policy deliberations where decisions are being made that impact U.S. business bottom lines. This is particularly prevalent in the UN environmental space. USCIB was on the front lines at UNEP and the UNFCCC pushing back against these efforts as private sector involvement is critical to the success in solving the very problems that these UN agencies seek to address.

Making International Taxation Rules Predictable for Business: New global tax rules have been developed under the OECD’s Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) Action Plan. Now, the focus is on BEPS implementation and opportunities to improve tax certainty remain. USCIB met with OECD and other government officials urging them to consider the need for a predictable fiscal environment that will protect and encourage cross-border trade and investment in the context of implementing these BEPS recommendations.

Working to Reduce Trade Barriers: Unnecessary and burdensome barriers to trade can cost companies and national economies billions of dollars. The WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA), which entered into force earlier this year, promises to boost global trade flows by over $1 trillion and generate opportunities for easier, less costly cross-border trade. USCIB crossed the globe pushing for global modernization of customs laws, regulations, processes and day-to-day practices are necessary for efficient supply chains.

Leadership at the ILO and more…
Review USCIB’s engagement at the ILO’s International Labor Conference and the ICC Marketing & Advertising Commission.

Upcoming USCIB Representation around the World to be Covered in the Next Global Impact
APEC SOM 3 Meetings – Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam; August, 2017

WCO Harmonized System Committee (HSC) Meeting – Brussels, Belgium; November, 2017

APEC CEO Summit – Da Nang, Vietnam; November, 2017

ICC Customs & Trade Facilitation Commission Meeting – Paris, France; November, 2017

UNFCCC COP23 – Bonn, German; November, 2017

WTO Ministerial – Buenos Aires, Argentina; December, 2017

UNEA3 – Nairobi, Kenya; December, 2017

USCIB Urges Senate to Confirm Trump Administration Nominees

USCIB is among approximately 90 American business and industry associations to have signed a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, urging the Senate to take expeditious steps to ensure the timely confirmation of qualified pending nominees to administration positions.

“The slow pace of confirmations is depriving agencies across the government of critical leadership and in the case of independent agencies, the quorum necessary to conduct critical business,” reads the letter.

Additionally, it notes: “The breakdown of the confirmation process results in a breakdown in the efficient and effective functioning of government and ultimately to a drag on the economy. Workers are sidelined as projects await permits from agencies that lack the quorum necessary to issue the permit. Businesses are left waiting for important administrative decisions that simply cannot be made in the absence of Senate-confirmed officials.”

To date, among President Donald Trump’s 283 executive and judicial nominations, only 67 have been confirmed. Of those 67, only 13 were confirmed by voice vote or unanimous consent, while 37 (55%) were confirmed only after going through the cloture process. By way of comparison, at approximately the same point in President Obama’s first term, the Senate had confirmed 206 nominees, 182 by voice vote or unanimous consent.

The full letter, along with the list of signatories, can be found here.

USCIB Supports HLPF Side-Event on Agriculture and Food

With the UN High-Level Political Forum taking place in New York from July 10-19, USCIB has been on the ground, starting with Agriculture and Food Day, an event hosted by the International Agri-food Network (IAFN) on July 13, which summarized the importance of targeting the agricultural sector and food issues in order to reach the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.

The SDGs help to guide people and the planet towards a sustainable future, and they were created to measure progress and achievements towards this series of 17 goals adopted by the UN General Assembly under the moniker Agenda 2030.  During the High-Level Political Forum, the UN Secretariat works with its member states to discuss paths to implementation and to track progress on the SDGs.  IAFN has advocated for several years during the SDG development process on the need for a stand-alone goal on sustainable agriculture and food security; this goal is SDG2, Ending Hunger.

However, “solutions cannot address just one goal, but must look to make a difference to several at once,” noted Mike Michener, USCIB’s vice president for product policy and innovation who also covers USCIB’s work on health and food and agriculture. “The purpose of Agriculture and Food Day was to examine how focusing on agricultural and food policy could achieve not only Goal 2 but also make substantive contributions to the achievement of the other 16 goals.  Investments made in agriculture — the dominant occupation for the world’s poorest people — can accomplish much beyond Goal 2, including improvements in health, incomes, trade, infrastructure, and the environment,” he said.

IAFN partnered with a number of leading organizations to host “Agriculture and Food Day” to celebrate, discuss, negotiate, analyze, and brainstorm around the role of the agricultural and food sector in relation to the implementation of the SDGs. The day included a thematically-focused plenary session with high-level speakers including high-ranking UN diplomats, a series of roundtable discussions on inter-linkages in SDGs, and a dynamic luncheon featuring of youth in agriculture with the goal to raise awareness of the critical need for investment in Goal 2, Zero Hunger. IAFN hosted the event with the Farming First coalition, a group that advocates for agriculture programs to be farmer-centered and knowledge-based.

USCIB is also participating in the SDG Business Forum on July 18.

USCIB Foundation to Host Event on Apprenticeships

With widespread praise over the value of apprenticeships in lieu of a traditional four-year college experience, President Donald Trump and Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta have launched a series of initiatives that call on Congress to pass reforms expanding apprenticeships and to raise awareness about the viable career paths apprenticeships can offer. Apprenticeships have even become a priority for the B20 and G20 leaders.

Given the role that apprenticeships play in supporting the development of business-ready skills for youth and in realizing goals of inclusive economic growth and an equitable transition to a more sustainable world, The USCIB Foundation, which is the educational and research arm of USCIB, has partnered with Citi and the Global Apprenticeship Network (GAN) to organize a roundtable discussion focused on apprenticeship models and practice in the U.S.

The roundtable will include representatives of approximately 25 companies who are either actively implementing apprenticeship programs or are interested in getting started.  John Ladd, the administrator for the Office of Apprenticeship of the U.S. Department of Labor, will join the meeting.

Our partners in this event include:

  • The Global Apprentice Network (GAN), a business-driven alliance with the overarching goal of encouraging and linking business initiatives on skills and employment opportunities for youth – notably through apprenticeships.
  • Citigroup, committed to making a difference in youth unemployment, recently announced a global expansion of the Pathways to Progress initiative led by a Citi Foundation investment of $100 million to connect 500,000 young people, ages 16-24, to training and jobs over the next three years.

Business Promotes OECD Guidelines for Multinationals

As the official U.S. affiliate of Business at OECD (BIAC), USCIB praised BIAC on its promotion of the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises (MNE Guidelines) last week during a high-level conference that it organized in Paris. In a recent statement, BIAC noted that it views the responsible conduct of companies across markets as stipulated by the MNE Guidelines to be an integral part of an open investment environment, while stressing the need for practical and manageable expectations.

USCIB’s Vice President for Corporate Responsibility and Labor Affairs Gabriella Rigg Herzog praised BIAC’s commitment noting, “USCIB supports the OECD Guidelines and the comprehensive framework of responsible business conduct practices they represent. We welcome BIAC’s strong commitment to promoting the OECD Guidelines and encouraging their implementation.”  

The OECD Guidelines include a unique implementation mechanism in the form of National Contact Points (NCP). “The experience with the NCP system has been mixed,” said Winand Quaedvlieg, chair of the BIAC Committee on Investment and Responsible Business Conduct. “In some cases, it had a clear added value for companies, in other cases it was criticized. It is therefore important to have a common understanding among all stakeholders about the nature of the NCP process as a platform for mediation and problem-solving in good faith, which is different from legal litigation.”

USCIB will continue to support BIAC as it works with the OECD to underline the conditions that must be in place to facilitate the proactive engagement of business in the process.

USCIB Pushes for a Pro-Business Policy in Multilateral Forums

As an increasing number of multilateral organizations consider proposals to keep business out of policy deliberations, USCIB met with Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for International Organizations (IO) Affairs Nerissa Cook on June 26 to encourage the administration to implement a consistent pro-business access policy in multilateral forums and to build on existing positive interactions between the UN and U.S. business.

The State Department has the lead for managing U.S. government engagement with international organizations, including many in the UN system which take decisions impacting U.S. business interests from the standpoint of regulations, norms and standards in the global marketplace.  USCIB members have voiced concerns about several of these bodies, such as the World Health Organization (WHO), whose rules limit engagement with some private sector interests and set business-discriminatory precedents across the UN system.

“We appreciate the strong efforts across the State Department, IO and EB to advance and protect U.S. business interests,” said Mike Michener, USCIB’s vice president for product policy and innovation, who leads USCIB work in the health, agriculture, and chemicals policy.  “American business strongly supports continued U.S. government engagement in multilateral forums particularly where decisions are being made that impact U.S. business bottom lines.  Moreover, business brings its commitment, innovation, know-how, and investment to solving the very problems that these UN agencies seek to address via the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. UN agencies stand to benefit from employing the inclusive multi-stakeholder partnership approach used by the UN Environment Program (UNEP) in the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) and the Montreal, Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm treaties.”

In concluding the discussion, USCIB President and CEO, Peter Robinson, highlighted the practical importance of good governance principles throughout the UN, stating, “access, transparency and accountability to the U.S. private sector are prerequisites for business engagement in implementation of UN initiatives and policies.”


USCIB and ILO Hold Dialogue on Disabilities in the Workplace

USCIB Senior Counsel Ronnie Goldberg facilitates panel at the joint USCIB-ILO-AT&T event on Disability Inclusion in Washington DC

U.S. companies are increasingly sensitive to the importance of enhancing workplace diversity, particularly for people with disabilities. In an effort to promote U.S. company membership in the ILO Global Business and Disability Network (GBDN), USCIB, AT&T and the ILO held an event at the AT&T Forum in Washington DC on June 20 for business leaders, “Promoting disability inclusion globally.”

The GBDN is a network of multinational enterprises, employers’ organizations, business networks and disabled persons’ organizations who share the conviction that people with disabilities have talents and skills that can enhance virtually any business and can be a powerful tool for sharing global best practices and accessing relevant networks around the world. In addition to hosting the event, AT&T was also a featured speaker and has a strong corporate commitment to employing persons with disabilities.

USCIB Senior Counsel Ronnie Goldberg gave opening remarks and facilitated a panel on “Best Practices in the Employment of Persons with Disabilities in the Global South,” which also featured speakers from L’Oreal, Repsol, Accenture and Cisco.

Panelists discussed some of their company initiatives such as Cisco’s Project Life Changer and Accenture’s Tech4Good, which support employees with disabilities through technological and work culture integration. Many of the companies discussed the importance of building an employable skill-set while others, such as Cisco, go even further to alter the recruitment process, placing more emphasis on internships and experience.

“Smart companies have known for some time that there is a robust business case for workplace diversity in general and for hiring people with disabilities in particular,” said Goldberg. “All the data suggests that people with disabilities are productive, reliable and highly motivated employees.  They can also constitute a significant market, and some companies have prospered by developing products and services for people with disabilities, their families and friends.”

Goldberg noted that USCIB members are global enterprises, with employees and customers in every part of the world.  “The network and opportunities for best practice and information sharing provided by the ILO GBDN can be an important resource for MNEs as they devise and implement their human resource, product development, and marketing strategies in diverse communities across the globe,” she said.

The event also featured USCIB members from Deloitte, Boeing and Accenture.

Celebrating 80 Years of the ICC Marketing Code

ICC Marketing & Advertising Commission members met in Paris on June 16.

USCIB and others in the International Chamber of Commerce family are celebrating this year’s 80th anniversary of the ICC Consolidated Code of Marketing and Advertising Communication Practice.

Earlier this week, ICC presented the Code during a networking cocktail hosted in partnership with the French Association of the Communications Agencies, at the French Camp Cannes held on the margins of the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. The event followed the semi-annual meeting of ICC’s Commission on Marketing and Advertising, which took place in Paris on June 16 and was chaired by Brent Sanders, associate general counsel with Microsoft and chair of USCIB’s Marketing and Advertising Committee.

During the celebratory event in Cannes, Ximena Tapias Delporte, vice chair of the ICC Commission on Marketing and Advertising and president of the Colombian Commission on Advertising Self-Regulation, joined Stéphane Martin, director general of the French self-regulatory organization ARPP and chair of the European Advertising Standards Alliance, to share perspectives on the Code and its broader application at international level as the foundational instrument of advertising self-regulation.

The ICC Code was also presented at the International Advertising Association (IAA) cabana in Cannes, where Carla Michelotti, vice chair of USCIB’s Marketing and Advertising Committee and vice president of the IAA, interviewed Martin on using the Code to ensure best practices in the advertising industry and to build trust with consumers.

“Over the past 80 years, the ICC Code has played a key role in providing principles that help build trust with consumers, assuring them of advertising that is honest, legal, decent and truthful,” Martin said during the interview.

According to USCIB Vice President Jonathan Huneke, at the ICC commission meeting in Paris, members discussed possible revision of the Code in the coming years to more fully reflect changes in technology and advertising practice, and finalized a draft ICC guide on responsible mobile marketing communications. The latter document is expected to be finalized and issued by ICC in the coming weeks.