USCIB Members Play Lead Role at 2017 SelectUSA

President Donald Trump‘s administration has adopted and expanded upon the Obama Administration’s “SelectUSA” annual conference to promote foreign direct investment (FDI) into the U.S. The 2017 “SelectUSA” conference was held June 18-20 at National Harbor in suburban Maryland, outside Washington.  Senior Executives from USCIB member companies including General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt and UPS President of Global Public Affairs Laura Lane, as well as representatives from Deloitte, Lockheed Martin, AT&T and JPMorgan Chase shared the podium as speakers in plenary, panels and breakout sessions with U.S. cabinet members, state development officials, and foreign business leaders.

USCIB congratulates the Administration for the successful conference and commends them for recognizing the importance of FDI for U.S. economic growth, global competitiveness and job creation.  Details on the SelectUSA’17 conference are available here.  Questions about SelectUSA or U.S. government support for foreign investment into the United States should be addressed to SelectUSA office at the U.S. Department of Commerce.

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.

USCIB Urges Administration to Push Anti-Bribery Agenda in G20

USCIB joined with the Coalition for Integrity, the International Corporate Accountability Roundtable and the AFL-CIO in a June 13 letter to President Donald Trump urging the administration to push aggressively for other leading global trading nations to match U.S. efforts against international bribery and corruption.  Specifically, the group urged the administration to press all of the 41 signatory countries to the OECD’s Anti-bribery Convention to take concrete steps to strengthen their implementation and enforcement of their foreign bribery laws.

In the context of the G20, USCIB joined in urging the administration to press for all G20 countries to become signatories and full partners in that OECD convention by the end of 2018.  Currently four G20 members (China, India, Indonesia and Saudi Arabia) have not signed the OECD Anti-bribery Convention.

The G20 Summit meeting will be held July 7-9 in Hamburg, Germany.

 

 

SDG Business Forum Will Report on Private Sector Achievements

Following the success of last year’s inaugural forum, the second annual SDG Business Forum will take place at the United Nations on July 18, 2017 during the ministerial segment of the High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) on Sustainable Development. Co-hosted by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN-DESA), and the UN Global Compact, and organized in collaboration with the Global Business Alliance (GBA) for 2030 – including USCIB, the SDG Business Forum will convene leaders from business and government, together with the heads of UN agencies, key international organizations, and civil society groups to delve into the role business will play in delivering the 2030 Agenda.

Featuring a showcase review of business engagement on the 7 goals in focus at this year’s HLPF, as well as individual sessions examining investment, partnerships, and monitoring, this event will foster robust dialogue between governments and the private sector on critical issues and the way forward. The Forum will report on significant achievements and commitments undertaken by business and gauge private sector efforts to catalyze sustainable growth and development during this critical implementation phase. Ranging from SMEs to multinational corporations, the global business community is committed to contribute to the success of the 2030 Agenda and the realization of a long-lasting, prosperous future for all.

For more information and registration please visit: http://www.sdgbusinessforum.com/

USCIB Emphasizes Government Role in Labor Migration Policy at ILC

USCIB Vice President for Corporate Responsibility and Labor Affairs gives remarks during the International Labor Conference in Geneva, Switzerland

USCIB Vice President for Corporate Responsibility and Labor Affairs Gabriella Rigg Herzog was among approximately 6,000 delegates who attended the 106th session of the International Labor Conference (ILC) in Geneva, Switzerland (June 5-16). The ILC touched upon pressing global issues such as the application of labor standards, peace and stability, women in the workplace, immigration and climate change. Herzog attended the ILC as a member of the U.S. Employers Delegation, headed by Ed Potter, USCIB senior counsel and U.S. employer spokesperson to the International Labor Organization (ILO) Governing Body.

Herzog gave remarks at the Committee for Labor Migration, emphasizing the important role the ILO has to play in ensuring that labor migration policies are grounded in sound facts in order to assist governments in devising and implementing policies in ways that work for both employers and workers.

“Labor migration is a necessary and important phenomenon,” said Herzog in her remarks. “It can help fulfill personal aspirations, balance labor supply and demand, spark innovation, and develop and transfer skills.  But for workers to be able to move of their own volition, where and when their labor is needed and valued, and with their rights protected, governments must have clear, transparent and efficient migration policies.”

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.

 

Update NAFTA, but Keep What’s Working, Says USCIB

Washington, D.C., June 13, 2017 – The United States Council for International Business (USCIB), which represents the global interests of American companies, has released its recommendations to the Trump administration on priorities for the modernization of the North American Free Trade Agreement. The group calls on the administration to update the 20 year-old pact to accommodate new realities in global commerce, including the rise of the digital economy, while keeping what works from the original agreement.

“Our member companies, who collectively encompass America’s most successful enterprises on the global stage, strongly support modernization of NAFTA,” said USCIB President and CEO Peter M. Robinson. “But they are united in believing that this must take place as part of a broader strategy to open international markets for U.S. companies, and remove barriers and unfair trade practices in support of U.S. jobs.”

USCIB calls upon the administration to update and strengthen key NAFTA provisions, including the liberalization and protection of investment flows, protection of intellectual property, trade facilitation and improved agricultural market access. It also recommends tackling new areas not included or anticipated in the original agreement a quarter-century ago, such as the digital provision of goods and services, data localization requirements, treatment of state-owned enterprises. It further urges U.S. negotiators to work closely with a range of private-sector stakeholders to ensure that a revamped agreement meets business needs in the 21st century.

The USCIB statement notes that, since NAFTA’s implementation, U.S. trade with Canada and Mexico has more than tripled, with a positive impact on U.S. GDP of 0.5%, or several billion dollars of added growth per year. It cites a recent study by the Peterson Institute for International Economics which found that NAFTA did not foster noticeable growth in the overall U.S. trade deficit, and that increased trade with Mexico did not perceptibly raise U.S. unemployment.

USCIB says that several other areas currently covered by the agreement also require modernization, including rules on intellectual property protection, regulatory cooperation, services market access, and customs and trade facilitation. The group says that language agreed during the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations provides a useful foundation on these topics upon which to build for NAFTA modernization, as Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer have remarked. In other areas where NAFTA disciplines have stood the test of time, USCIB is urging the administration to focus on ensuring that those provisions not be weakened.

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. As the U.S. affiliate of several leading international business organizations, 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
Tel: +1 917 420 0039
jhuneke@uscib.org

ICC and USCIB Host Singapore Minister to Discuss Trade Disputes in Asia

Singapore’s Senior Minister of State for Law and Finance Indranee Rajah SC gives remarks

The ICC International Court of Arbitration and USCIB’s Arbitration Committee co-hosted Singapore’s Senior Minister of State for Law and Finance Indranee Rajah SC on May 22 in New York, attracting law professionals including arbitrators, counsel and academics. The keynote address was followed by a roundtable discussion of considerations when resolving disputes in Asia, such as when to litigate or arbitrate, the use of expedited procedure rules, investment treaty developments in the region and enforcement considerations in various jurisdictions.

“As economies in Asia continue to grow, dispute volume and complexity will rise,” said Minister Rajah in her remarks, which focused on Singapore as a place of arbitration.

Other panelists included Grant Hanessian, partner, Baker McKenzie, court member, ICC International Court of Arbitration and chair of the USCIB Arbitration Committee, Mevelyn Ong, associate, Sullivan & Cromwell and former deputy counsel, ICC International Court of Arbitration, Christopher K. Tahbaz, Partner, Debevoise & Plimpton LLP, Dan Tan, principal, Dan Tan Law and Edwin Tong, SC, partner, Allen & Gledhill LLP.

OECD Week Addresses Global Challenges with Business Input

 

Peter M. Robinson at OECD Week in Paris

USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson was in Paris last week for OECD Week, which tackled issues such as international tax rules, globalization challenges and anti-trade rhetoric. Addressing Ministers of Finance and Foreign Affairs at the OECD Ministerial Council Meeting on June 7, Business at OECD (BIAC) Chair Phil O’Reilly called on governments to address the challenges of strengthening growth and boosting economic participation, emphasizing that ultimately societies can only support economic openness, when it is accompanied by appropriate domestic policies to prepare people for change, with better skills and more opportunities for economic participation.” O’Reilly drew upon principles highlighted in the recently released Business at OECD 2017 Statement to Ministers, which contains the core business recommendations to strengthen open economies and inclusive societies. This paper is a call to action for OECD governments to implement a comprehensive competitiveness agenda, and also better engage with the public, especially regarding the opportunities that come with trade and investment.

In a similar statement, Business at OECD Secretary General Bernhard Welschke encouraged governments to better address an increasing anti-trade rhetoric in OECD countries, highlighting that “both business and trade unions have a responsibility to communicate in a fair, balanced, and responsible manner.” Also speaking at the session on International Trade and Investment for the Benefit for All, Business at OECD (BIAC) Vice Chair and USCIB Board member Charles R. Johnston (Citi) encouraged governments to counteract on protectionist action in the form of growing non-tariff barriers, and pointed to areas where new OECD work would help better inform this debate. Business also emphasized that governments should fully use the OECD Investment Restrictiveness Index and implement the Policy Framework for Investment.

On international tax policy, Business at OECD (BIAC) was present at the official signing ceremony for the Multilateral Convention to Implement Tax Treaty Related Measures (MLI) to Prevent Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS), which took place at the OECD Ministerial Council Meeting. The MLI opens the door to changes in the tax treaty process, and to a number of key international tax rules, that are significant. Concurrently, USCIB and the OECD were holding their 12th annual international tax conference in Washington DC, which brought together over 300 tax policy experts.

Robinson Signs B20 Recommendation on Investment in Africa

The B20 recommendations Boosting Investment in Africa- Towards Inclusive Compacts in Africa have been signed in Berlin by the majority of the B20 taskforce and cross-thematic group Chairs and Co-Chairs, including USCIB President and CEO Peter M Robinson, who serves as Co-Chair of the B20 Employment and Education Taskforce. Robinson also recently attended the B20 Summit in Berlin in May. The Partnership with Africa is one of the key priorities in the German G20 presidency, as well as in the B20.

The B20 Secretariat offered these recommendations to the press and B20 Chairman Jürgen Heraeus introduced the recommendations at the G20 Africa Partnership – Investing in a Common Future Conference. BDI, the pre-eminent German business group, hosted the event as a partner within the framework of the Sub- Saharan Africa Initiative of German Business (SAFRI) on June 12 in Berlin.

The “African Economic Outlook” is an annual report produced by the African Development Bank (AfDB), the OECD Development Centre and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Speakers at the African Economic Outlook will include President of the Republic of Rwanda S. E. Paul Kagame, State Secretary in the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development Thomas Silberhorn and Secretary-General of the OECD Ángel Gurría.