USCIB Supports UN Convention on Receivables

Last week, USCIB joined nine other trade associations to sign on to a letter to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations in support for the United Nations Convention on the Assignment of Receivables in International Trade, asking the committee to move expeditiously toward its ratification.

Enactment of the convention would make it easier for U.S. small and medium-sized businesses to access additional financing from lenders based on their sales of goods and services to customers located in other countries that ratify the convention.

“The Receivables Convention is self-executing and would not change U.S. law in any material respect, because U.S. law already reflects the modern legal principles embodied in the convention,” said Eva Hampl, USCIB’s director for investment, trade and financial services. “We believe that U.S. ratification would prompt other countries to ratify as well, which will then make it easier for U.S. lenders to accommodate the financing needs of U.S. small and medium-sized businesses, enabling them to compete more vigorously in the international marketplace and foster the growth of American jobs.”

No state or federal legislation is needed for executing the Convention so there is no cost to the U.S. government or taxpayers in ratifying it. Furthermore, experts from the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws participated fully in the formulation of the Convention and have determined that there would be no implementation issues in ratifying the Convention.

 

 

USCIB Disappointed at Lack of Multilateral Progress at WTO Ministerial

But business group holds out hope on promising efforts by major groups of countries

Buenos Aires and New York, December 13, 2017 – The United States Council for Inte–rnational Business (USCIB), which represents America’s most successful global companies, expressed disappointment at the lack of meaningful multilateral progress at the World Trade Organization ministerial that concluded today. But it said that potential new group efforts on electronic commerce and other issues offered some limited hope for the future.

“Expectations for Buenos Aires were low coming in, and unfortunately the results largely lived up to them,” said USCIB President and CEO Peter M. Robinson, who represented USCIB at the ministerial. “The business community, which relies on cross-border trade and investment to help contribute to economic growth and societal well-being around the world, is disappointed. But we do hold out some hope for future progress based on the commitment by large groups of countries in pursuing new agreements.”

On the sidelines of the ministerial, 70 countries, led by Australia, Japan, and Singapore, and including the United States and the European Union, agreed to begin discussions toward negotiations on electronic commerce. USCIB joined the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), for which it serves as the American national committee, in welcoming the move.

“Today’s statement is a very welcome step forward by governments representing 77 percent of global trade,” said ICC Secretary General John Danilovich. “We firmly believe that with the right global policies in place there is an opportunity to unleash a new era of inclusive trade, one in which all companies – regardless of size, sector or location – can benefit from equal access to the global trading system.”

Separately, ministers from over 60 countries issued a joint statement pledging to pursue negotiations on domestic regulations that limit cross-border trade in services. They also renewed a landmark 1998 moratorium on duties on electronic transmissions.

“Taken together, these results offer some hope for the future, and set a new and positive direction for the WTO,” said Robinson. “We are especially grateful for the persistence and vision of those members that pushed for continued positive movement on e-commerce.”

Robinson continued: “However, the lack of truly meaningful multilateral deliverables is worrisome. Members will need to think long and hard about what kind of WTO they really want – one that simply adjudicates trade disputes and sanctions trade enforcement remedies, or one that expands trade through new, market-opening agreements.”

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, generating $5 trillion in annual revenues and employing over 11 million people worldwide. As the U.S. affiliate of several 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. More information is available at www.uscib.org.

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

 

Rigg Herzog Speaks at UN Forum on Business and Human Rights

Last week, USCIB Vice President for Corporate Responsibility and Labor Affairs Gabriella Rigg Herzog participated in the 6th Annual United Nations Forum on Business and Human Rights in Geneva, Switzerland. The annual forum is the world’s largest gathering of government, civil society, business and other stakeholders focused on the promotion and implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs). This year’s theme, “Realizing Effective Access to Remedy” focused on the third pillar of the UN Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights, and discussions revolved around a wide range of mechanisms for remedy, from state-based judicial and non-judicial to remediation and grievance mechanisms, as well as others.

Herzog spoke on a panel focused on the peer review process of the functioning of National Contact Point offices under the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. Several other USCIB members also attended the forum and participated on panels, including BP, The Walt Disney Company, Coca-Cola, Walmart and Littler Mendelson.  

“USCIB and our members have participated actively in the UN Annual Forum on Business and Human Rights every year since it was launched following the approval of the UNGPs by the UN Human Rights Council in 2011,” said Herzog. “The Forum provides an opportunity for annual stock-taking on UNGPs implementation progress by governments, business and civil society. “

On November 27, USCIB, along with other business organizations such as the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and the International Organization of Employers (IOE), co-hosted a Business Briefing and Networking Event, an exclusive business event that provided private sector attendees the opportunity to meet and network with colleagues, learn more about the UN Forum and how to engage meaningfully, while discussing the important “Access to Remedy” topic with peers. 

Among other pre-and-post-Forum events, USCIB also participated in a briefing with the U.S. government delegation on November 29 where several government representatives shared updates on their office’s initiatives to protect human rights as articulated in the government’s duty to protect human rights under the UNGPs. 

“We appreciated seeing continued strong U.S. Government participation at the UN Annual Forum this year, and welcomed the updates they shared on their sustained focus on promoting implementation of the UNGPs by governments and businesses around the world,” added Herzog. “No one actor can single-handedly carry out the full UNGPs vision. U.S. businesses stands ready to engage constructively with U.S. Government – as well as civil society – on this important effort.”

USCIB Gears Up for WTO Ministerial

Over 160 governments will gather next week in Buenos Aires, Argentina for the World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial (MC 11). USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson will also be attending on behalf of U.S. business and will support the International Chamber of Commerce activities planned in conjunction with MC11.

On December 12, Robinson will take part in the WTO Business Forum, which ICC is co-sponsoring with the Argentina government and several other groups. The Forum has been designed as a platform to amplify the voice of the private sector within the context of the WTO Ministerial with a view to promoting an enriching public-private dialogue about the multilateral trading system and contributing to foster closer engagement between governments and business leaders at the WTO.

Argentina’s President Mauricio Macro and Director-General of the WTO Roberto Azevedo are expected to give keynotes while ICC Secretary General John Danilovich will be part of the final panel discussing the future of global trade. USCIB member companies serving on panels at the Forum include Mastercard, GE, DHL Express, Dow Chemical, Boeing, Monsanto, IBM, UPS, Walmart, Google, Amazon, and E-bay.  The Forum will feature sessions on fostering micro, small and medium enterprises, progress in trade facilitation, food security and e-commerce.

At the Ministerial next week, Robinson will urge governments to agree on an action plan for moving the WTO forward on market opening agreements as well as improvements to operations.  He will encourage progress on multilateral negotiations in key issue areas such as fisheries subsidies, an e-commerce work program, tackling needed reforms to the dispute resolution system, and providing a framework for more effective market opening negotiations.  The MC11 action plan should also encourage pursuit of plurilateral initiatives by groups of interested countries when a multilateral negotiation does not have broad support.

USCIB had already begun planning for the Ministerial earlier this year and, most recently, with Senior Vice President Rob Mulligan’s trip to Geneva in September for the WTO’s annual Public Forum and related meetings organized by ICC. The issues mentioned most often in these meetings as having the potential for some type of action at the Ministerial included investment facilitation, fisheries subsidies, e-commerce, services facilitation and agriculture.  However, it also seems that each of these are facing challenges that could prevent a deliverable at MC 11.

“While the Ministerial may not produce a number of deliverables, business engagement will be needed to ensure that the WTO moves forward after the Ministerial on issues that address meaningful concerns with the global trading system,” said Mulligan. “This will be important to preserving the relevance and value of the WTO in opening global markets,” he added.

USCIB Statement on US Withdrawal From Global Compact on Migration

New York, NY, December 4, 2017 – The United States Council for International Business (USCIB), which represents America’s most successful global companies, issued the following statement on U.S. withdrawal from negotiations surrounding the UN Global Compact on Migration:

Like many others in the U.S. business community, USCIB is disappointed by the news that the Administration has elected to withdraw from the UN Global Compact on Migration, which aims to enlist international cooperation to ensure the rights of migrants and refugees, including dissemination of best practices surrounding their access to education and jobs. This non-binding instrument is currently under negotiation and due to be adopted next year.

The U.S. business community regards migration as a positive and necessary phenomenon. It is a vehicle for fulfilling personal aspirations, for balancing labor supply and demand, for supporting competitiveness and sparking innovation, and for transferring and spreading skills.

Companies are frequent and important users of national migration systems. To remain successful and competitive in the global economy, they require clear and consistent migration policies, national laws and procedures in both sending and receiving countries.

The U.S. has benefited immeasurably from the contribution of migrants to our economy and our society. As the home to the largest number of migrants in the world, our government has experience with the practical workings of immigration laws, procedures, and policies that can contribute to a positive international dialogue. Without U.S. leadership, we fear an opportunity will be missed to ensure clear, transparent, and efficient national immigration laws and policies in the U.S. and around the world that permit the movement of workers when and where they are needed.

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 service firms from every sector of the economy, with operations in every region of the world. As the U.S. affiliate of several leading international business organizations, including the International Organization of Employers (IOE), USCIB provides business views to policy makers and regulatory authorities worldwide, including through the Business Mechanism to the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD).

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

US Business Helps Launch First Ever Business Meeting at UN Environment Assembly

President of the UN General Assembly, Miroslav Lascak

The UN Environment Assembly (UNEA), the highest level policy making forum on environment in the UN system, opened its 3rd session under the auspices of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP or UN Environment) on December 4 in Nairobi, Kenya.  Environment Ministers from over 60 countries and delegates from all UN member states are gathered to refocus UN system environmental policy towards combatting pollution and its impacts. 

The overall theme of this session is, “Towards a Pollution Free Planet,” and governments are considering decisions to limit plastic debris in oceans, increase cooperation on air pollution and more closely link environment and health policies, with an emphasis on the “precautionary principle.”  Responding to numerous statements welcoming business involvement at UNEA3 and encouraging greater involvement by business at future UNEA meetings by UN officials and government representatives, USCIB Vice President for Strategic International Engagement, Energy and Environment Norine Kennedy stated, “U.S. business is attending this meeting to keep the focus on infrastructure, alignment with SDGs and enabling frameworks for private sector innovation and investment, and is keen to keep this fruitful dialogue and partnership going.”

USCIB and its members have led the U.S business presence at this session, working closely with the American Chemistry Council, American Plastics Council and Croplife, among others.  USCIB took part in the first ever Science-Policy-Business Forum, and organized for the first time a Global Business Symposium at UNEA with the Global Business Alliance for Environment.   The President of the UN General Assembly, Miroslav Lascak welcomed the business initiative, stating that “Businesses are critical to achieving sustainable development.”

In his presentation at the Business Symposium, Erick Omollo Juma, Novozymes, drew attention to how his accompany is pursuing opportunities to link cooperative implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals and environmental protection through business action.   

Commenting on the examples of business initiatives to reduce risks from pollution during the Business Symposium, Walker Smith, director of global affairs and policy, U.S. Environment Protection Agency (EPA), recognized efforts by USCIB members, including the Walt Disney Company, the Coca-Cola Company, Dow Chemical, IBM and Procter & Gamble, to reduce food and plastic waste, and eliminate lead in paint.  USCIB has worked closely with the U.S, Department of State, EPA and NOAA representatives attending these meetings to reflect U.S. business views and achievements.

As part of her statement on behalf of the Business and Industry Major Group at the UNEA3 Opening Plenary Kennedy stated, “We need tailored specific responses to each source of pollution, reflecting economic and social circumstances. Business emphasizes the importance of building national capacity and infrastructure to address pollution through sound regulation and management, stimulating innovation and seeking pragmatic policy options and partnerships.”

On partnerships, Kennedy noted, “Business in its diversity is a critical part of solutions and investment, and is ready to work with governments and other stakeholders to act on UNEA outcomes to reduce pollution and associated risks – let’s identify practical solutions and policies and get to work.”

USCIB will present and discuss outcomes and next steps from UNEA3 at its next Environment Committee meeting on December 15 in Washington DC.

USCIB 2017 International Leadership Award Dinner Honors Mastercard CEO and Celebrates SDGs

The 2017 USCIB Award dinner at the United Nations. L-R: Terry McGraw (S&P Global), Ajay Banga (Mastercard and 2017 honoree), Amina Mohammed (United Nations), Peter Robinson (USCIB)

At last night’s USCIB 2017 International Leadership Award Dinner, USCIB members and representatives of the international community turned out to honor Mastercard President and CEO Ajay Banga and celebrate the private sector’s contribution to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The dinner, which was held at United Nations headquarters in New York, drew over 220 high-level private sector individuals, UN dignitaries as well as press and featured keynote remarks by UN Deputy Secretary General Amina Mohammed.

“Business leaders are ever more eager to work with governments on the 2030 Development Agenda,” said Mohammed, praising the involvement and “sustained momentum” that has been achieved by the private sector to date. While urging the private sector to continue working towards the achievement of the goals by 2030, she also noted, “The UN itself needs to change since it has not yet fulfilled its full potential.”

USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson, who gave welcoming remarks, highlighted 2017 milestones for the business community in aligning actions with the UN’s 2030 Development Agenda. “This has been a watershed year for American business in terms of focusing its attention on the importance of working effectively with international institutions – not just the UN, but also the G20, OECD, ILO and so many others,” said Robinson. “A key milestone came toward the end of last year, when the International Chamber of Commerce, one of three global business organizations for which USCIB serves as the American affiliate, won top-level Observer Status in the United Nations General Assembly.”

Terry McGraw, chairman of USCIB and chairman emeritus of McGraw Hill (now S&P Financial) echoed Robinson’s sentiments stating, “With elections and changing government leaders and priorities in the United States and literally around the world, it is more important than ever for business to stand up and continue to press forward an agenda that will strengthen important institutions and rules by which we work and trade.” McGraw also specifically acknowledged the role of the UN, noting, “To build a better world, we need institutions like the United Nations to function effectively and harmoniously, representing not just all of their member governments, but all interested stakeholders.”

Ajay Banga (Mastercard) and Eric Roston (Bloomberg News) engage in a fireside chat during the dinner

However the award honoree Banga emphasized that more needs to be done. “More than 2 billion adults around the world don’t have access to formal financial services, and the majority of them are women,” he said. “They have no way to do the things we take for granted – pay a bill, save money for a rainy day, borrow on reasonable terms. They are trapped in a cycle of poverty and faced with systemic barriers to the resources that would allow them change their situations and contribute to the growth and resilience of their communities. The private sector has a major responsibility and role to play in driving financial inclusion and, ultimately, inclusive growth, by bringing investment, innovation and scale to the table.”

The leadership award, which was established in 1980, is presented to a leading CEO, international figure or institution, and recognizes outstanding contributions to global trade, finance and investment, and to improving the global competitive framework in which American business operates. In honoring Banga, USCIB also recognized Mastercard’s leading work in global financial inclusion. Upon accepting the award, Banga was joined by Eric Roston, chief sustainability editor with Bloomberg News, for a “fireside chat” exploring Banga’s thoughts on business leadership and sustainability.

The gala event also served to showcase the private sector’s efforts to align its activities with the SDGs, including via a new video, spotlighting a number of USCIB member companies, for the Business for 2030 web platform launched by USCIB two years ago. Please visit www.Businessfor2030.org to learn more about what companies are doing to achieve the SDGs.

Banga’s other achievements include leadership roles as member of the U.S. President’s Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations and as a founding trustee of the U.S. – India Strategic Partnership Forum. He also served as a member of President Barack Obama’s Commission on Enhancing National Cybersecurity. Prior to Mastercard, Banga was chief executive of Citigroup’s Asia Pacific. He began his career at Nestle in India, where he also spent two years with PepsiCo.

Fall/Winter 2017 Issue of International Business Now Live

USCIB’s “International Business” Fall/Winter 2017 issue is now live!

The Fall/Winter 2017 issue features USCIB President and CEO Peter M. Robinson‘s column on “The Global Goals: a blueprint for partnership and action” as well as articles on developments in the UN General Assembly, NAFTA and the World Trade Organization, 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.

Subscribe to USCIB’s International Business Magazine

Subscriptions to “International Business” are available free upon request to representatives of USCIB member organizations. Contact us to subscribe.

Non-members may subscribe to “International Business” and other USCIB print publications at an annual rate of $50 (U.S.) for domestic delivery, or $75 for overseas delivery. Contact us to subscribe. USCIB’s annual report, studies from the United States Council Foundation and related publications are included with your paid subscription.

Our free electronic newsletter, “International Business Weekly,” provides regular updates on USCIB’s major activities and priorities. Click here to view a sample issue. Click here to subscribe.

We welcome outside submissions and inquiries regarding our publications – send them to news@uscib.org.

We welcome advertising in International Business magazine — special discounted rates for USCIB member organizations! Contact Kira Yevtukhova (kyevtukhova@uscib.org) for more information.

Hampl Urges High Standards in Colombia’s OECD Accession

 

USCIB Director for Investment, Trade and Financial Services Eva Hampl

Through its Business at OECD (BIAC) affiliation, USCIB has been extensively involved in representing member interest in the OECD accession process of Colombia. USCIB’s Director for Investment, Trade and Financial Services Eva Hampl traveled to Paris last week with member companies and associations, to attend meetings with OECD officials and various OECD delegations. BIAC led the global business delegation in meetings with Ken Ash, OECD director for trade and agriculture, Nicola Bonucci, OECD director for legal affairs and coordinator for accession, Catalina Crane, high-level contact for Colombia’s OECD Accession Process, and delegation representatives from the United States, including Andrew Haviland, chargé d’affaires, as well as representatives from the European Union, United Kingdom, Sweden, Switzerland, Belgium and Mexico.

Colombia started the accession process in 2013. At present, 20 of the 23 OECD Committees have approved them for accession. The Committee dealing with our outstanding issues on pharmaceuticals, distilled spirits, and trucking is the OECD Trade Committee, which will meet again at the end of November. In terms of Trade Committee procedure, the OECD concluded the Market Openness Review (MOR) a few months ago, and are now a number of drafts into the so-called Formal Opinion. Once this Formal Opinion is approved, that concludes the process in the Trade Committee. OECD accession for Colombia won’t be concluded until all Committees independently approve them.

“Our current advocacy surrounds pre-accession recommendations, which we urged the OECD Trade Committee to include in the Formal Opinion,” said Hampl. “The concept of pre-accession requirements, as opposed to post-accession requirements, is a novelty in an OECD accession, rooted in past experience of the ineffectiveness of post-accession requirements, once the leverage of joining the OECD is gone. Accordingly, we view this ask as central to resolving our various business issues. We understand that several issues are currently covered in the confidential draft Formal Opinion as part of pre-accession recommendations, though it is not yet clear which of our issues are included in those.”

The next meeting of the OECD Trade Committee will be in April 2018. Given that Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos will leave office in May 2018, there is a high likelihood that a meeting will be called by the OECD before April to resolve any final issues, if the Formal Opinion is not finalized this month.

“USCIB acknowledges the importance of the Colombian market to our companies, but we also see the precedent Colombia can set for other countries from the region that have indicated an interest in joining the OECD, such as Argentina and Brazil,” added Hampl. “While no new processes have officially started, it is important to ensure that the high standards of the OECD are met by any country looking to join. We will aggressively continue our advocacy efforts as this accession process moves forward, to ensure that as many of our priority issues are resolved as possible before Colombia joins the OECD. “

Robinson Fosters USCIB Ties in Geneva with ILO, WTO and UNCTAD

USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson meets with James Zhan (UNCTAD) in Geneva

USCIB continues to travel the world, representing USCIB member companies and advocating for strong free-market policies.  With its unique global business network, USCIB is frequently the only U.S. business presence at important international conferences and meetings of international organizations in New York, Geneva and beyond.

Most recently, USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson traveled to Geneva for important meetings at the International Labor Organization (ILO), specifically with their Governing Body and with Director General Guy Ryder. He also attended meetings at the International Organization of Employers (IOE), where he serves as member of the Management Board and vice president for North America. Additionally, Robinson met with representatives from the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

At UNCTAD, Robinson met with Senior Director of the Investment and Entrepreneurship Division James Zhan to underline USCIB’s longstanding views on the importance of strong International Investment Agreements (IIAs) to help encourage and facilitate much-needed flows of private Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).  USCIB’s Vice President for Investment Policy Shaun Donnelly had been a strong, if sometimes lonely, voice for investment policies at UNCTAD’s October annual High-level Conference on International Investment Agreements.

While in Geneva, Robinson also met with the Ted Allegra, chargé d’affaires (the acting U.S. ambassador) at the U. S. Mission to Geneva-based UN agencies.  Robinson was able to lay out USCIB priorities, concerns, and policy recommendations  touching on a number of important Geneva organization – including ILO, WHO, Human Rights Commission and UNCTAD.  USCIB staff work closely with staff of the U.S. Mission on all these issues but it was important and timely for Robinson and Chargé Allegra to have a higher-level political discussion on these issues.  With no new U.S. Ambassador for Geneva in sight, the U.S. Mission will remain in the capable hands of Allegra as chargé. USCIB will be looking to organize an informal roundtable session for member companies with Allegra on one of his upcoming trips back to Washington.