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 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.

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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.

USCIB Presses for Clarity on GDPR Impact at ICANN Meeting

Barbara Wanner speaks at ICANN 60 meetings

ICANN 60, the Annual General Meeting of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), wrapped up on November 3 in Abu Dhabi, UAE with no further clarity for the ICANN community about the implications of the May 25, 2018 implementation of the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) on ICANN’s WHOIS database, a system that provides information on entities that register domain names.

USCIB members, who participate in both contracted and non-contracted constituencies, took advantage of virtually every opportunity for engagement with the Board and senior management to press ICANN for guidance on the implications of the GDPR on their data collection responsibilities.

“Although ICANN 60 concluded with no definitive answers about the fate of WHOIS, the Board set forth an approach that may serve as an interim solution to contractual compliance,” said USCIB Vice President for ICT Policy Barbara Wanner who also serves as the ICANN’s Business Constituency’s representative to the broader Commercial Stakeholders Group. “ICANN further urged the community to submit additional questions about possible models for GDPR/ICANN contractual compliance for additional legal analysis. USCIB members will join fellow business constituents not only in pressing insightful legal analysis but also shaping the over-arching policy discussion about the future of WHOIS via the work of the Registry Directory Services (RDS) Working Group.”

In addition, the nearly 2500 participants from business, government, civil society, and the technical community who participated in the week-long meeting tackled the long-running dispute concerning Amazon’s application for the .Amazon generic top-level domain (gTLD). Nearly five years ago, Brazil and Peru, with support from Argentina, objected to the USCIB member’s application on grounds that a company should not profit from an address that refers to an important geographical. The ICANN Board deferred to this advice and did not approve the .Amazon application. Amazon pursued legal recourse and won an appeal.

Speaking before a packed room, Amazon representatives underscored that the company took great care to ensure that its gTLD applications met all the applicant guide book requirements, receiving perfect scores on all questions. They further noted that ICANN’s geographic names panel determined three times that .amazon is not a geographic name that requires government approval. Importantly, they indicated the company’s willingness to discuss a practical compromise that allows use of .amazon for its commercial purposes, while fully respecting the cultural people and ecology of the region. The ICANN Board asked the Governmental Advisory Committee to re-consider the .amazon application and notify the Board whether the application may proceed by the conclusion of ICANN 61, 10-15 March 2018.

“Concerning the GDPR/WHOIS issue as well as the Board’s handling of the .amazon application, members of the ICANN community are flexing their new accountability powers as part  of the post-IANA transition Empowered Community,” added Wanner. “The community wants to ensure that the Board and ICANN management is transparent in its consideration of critical issues affecting the community and appropriately hold them accountable to processes that were carefully negotiated as part of the IANA stewardship transition. The engagement at ICANN 60 is indicative a greater activism by USCIB members and other ICANN community members on a host of domain name issues going forward.”

Hampl Addresses the Costs of Corruption and Bribery on Panel

USCIB’s Eva Hampl second from left. Photograph courtesy of Washington College of Law

As the OECD celebrated 20 years of the Anti-Bribery Convention last week, USCIB’s Director for Investment, Trade and Financial Services  Eva Hampl took part in a panel at the event “Celebrating the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention at 20, the FCPA at 40 & Addressing the Challenges Ahead”.

Hampl addressed the cost that corruption and bribery present to business and the important role the OECD plays to level the playing field in that regard. Specifically, companies from OECD countries, who have to comply with the OECD Anti-bribery Convention, compete with companies from non-OECD countries that are not subject to the same anti-bribery measures.

“This leads to unfair competition and can even create an environment favorable to corrupt practices,” warned Hampl. “U.S. companies of course have to comply with the FCPA, which means they spend a significant amount of resources on developing anti-corruption policies and compliance programs as well as training systems for employees so that they are well-equipped to withstand demands for corruption.”

Other speakers at the event included Stuart Eizenstat, former domestic policy advisor, President Carter & U.S. Ambassador to the EU, Under Secretary of Commerce, Deputy Secretary of Treasury, Drago Kos, chair of the OECD Working Group on Bribery, as well as officials from the Department of Justice and anti-corruption experts from international and policy organizations.

The OECD Anti-bribery Convention is a landmark instrument addressing the bribery of foreign officials. The OECD, with its multi-disciplinary nature, has the capacity to take a coordinated approach to the right against corruption. While we commend the work the OECD has already done in this space, there are several issues where USCIB advocates for further work to be done: (1) Increased adherence to the Convention, particularly b G20 countries; (2) Increased efforts to address the demand side of bribery (i.e. bribe solicitation and extortion by public officials); (3) More measures to facilitate voluntary self-disclosure; and (4) Addressing the growing complexity and costs of complying with multiple anti-bribery regimes by promoting clarity and greater international consistency.

Additionally, Hampl also attended the event No Turning Back: 40 Years of the FCPA and 20 Years of the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention. The agenda included speakers from various U.S. government offices that play an integral part enforcing the FCPA, OECD officials, foreign government officials, representatives from academia and international institutions, as well as the private sector, including General Electric and Citibank. The keynote address to kick off the event was given by Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Blanco.

Business Dialogue at Climate COP Underscores Need for Inclusive Engagement

Continuing a series of Business Dialogues at UN Climate Conference meetings (COPs) in Doha, Warsaw, Lima and Marrakesh, the Major Economies Business Forum on Energy Security and Climate Change (BizMEF) and USCIB organized a successful Business Dialogue on Sunday, November 12 in Siegburg, Germany on the margins of this year’s UN Climate Conference, known as COP23.

BizMEF is a partnership of over 20 major multi-sectoral business organizations – including USCIB – from major economies and international sectoral organizations.

This year’s BizMEF Business Dialogue discussed where business can contribute to national pledge development and review, and how business can be involved in the global review of pre-2020 climate action by countries and business, known as the Talanoa Dialogue, to be administered by Fiji.

USCIB and BizMEF have called for the establishment of a recognized channel for business engagement on these and other elements of the Paris Agreement and UNFCCC.  BizMEF’s 2017 COP23 Issue Papers address business issues and are now available here.

The dialogue featured Fijian Ambassador to the EU Deo Saran. Fiji holds the presidency of this year’s climate negotiations, and will facilitate the Talanoa Dialogue.  Ambassador Saran stated: “We are aiming for a COP that delivers tangible results and inspires a race to the top.  When it comes to climate change action, each of us has a responsibility, including business. We are all in the same canoe.”

USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson called for an open, inclusive framework for business engagement in the UNFCCC and the Paris Agreement. He welcomed the Talanoa Dialogue as “a way to bring together and consider the diverse national experiences and actions, to understand what has worked well, and identify where changes could be made to promote progress.  It is to be a dialogue, not a zero-sum negotiation. As such it is well suited for inclusion of business know how and experiences.”

The BizMEF Business Dialogue brought together over 50 participants from among government delegations, business leaders, academics and officials from the UNFCCC and relevant international organizations. High-level speakers at the event included:

  • Tomasz Chruszczow, Poland, SBI chair (Subsidiary Body for Implementation)
  • Marion Ferrat, IPCC Working Group III (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change)
  • Yvon Slingenberg, director general for environment, European Commission
  • Ambassador Patrick Suckling, [minister of?] environment, Australia
  • Trigg Talley, head of the Office of Global Change, U.S. Department of State
  • Jun Arima, professor of energy and environmental policy, University of Tokyo

Norine Kennedy, USCIB’s vice president for environment, energy and strategic international engagement, highlighted the growing issue of perceived conflict of interest and proposed sectoral bans at the UNFCCC and elsewhere in the multilateral system.  “We need to move forward, not backward,” she remarked. “If business and industry have contributed to climate change, it should be equally true that we play a significant role in tackling climate change. The reality is that it will not be possible to meet the objectives of the Paris Agreement without the robust and coordinated participation of the global business community in all its diversity.”

USCIB will continue to represent the private sector at COP23, through its conclusion on November 16. USCIB will also host an “on-the-ground” webinar from Bonn for USCIB members on Wednesday, November 15.  For more information on the webinar, please contact Mia Lauter (

Best Practices and Challenges Facing Apprenticeships in New York

On October 10, 2017, USCIB gathered with the Global Apprenticeship Network (GAN), the New York City Mayor’s Office of Workforce Development, and representatives from the hospitality industry, including Marriott, Hilton, the American Hotel & Lodging Association and the National Restaurant Association, to discuss the future of apprenticeships in NYC. This informal meeting was a continuation of the July 20th Roundtable on Apprenticeships, where USCIB and GAN brought together the U.S. Department of Labor and over 20 industry representatives for a dialogue on current and potential apprenticeship programs throughout the U.S.

The most recent meeting served as an informative exchange of best practices and greatest challenges facing implementation of apprenticeships in New York City. The NYC Mayor’s Office of Workforce Development welcomed greater establishments of apprenticeships in the city, citing a recently published goal of establishing 100,000 good jobs in the city over the next 10 years, with each job generated through city action and paying $50,000 per year or more. Additionally, they emphasized their current work with local colleges for a greater focus on the work-based learning model that can better enable registered apprenticeships.

The hospitality industry discussed their significant work on apprenticeships, and how much progress has been made in the last several years, but also highlighted the challenges of working under different regulations for apprenticeships, state-by-state. Another identified challenge was working with regulations originally created for specific sectors; for example, NY State’s apprenticeship regulations were originally formulated for the construction industry, but – if modernized – could better enable apprenticeships in the IT, banking and hospitality industries as well.

For a full summary of the meeting, including key final messages and next steps, please click here.

USCIB Submits Comments on Trade Barriers to Telecommunication Products

USCIB submitted comments in response to the United States Trade Representative’s (USTR) request for public comments to compile the National Trade Estimate Report on Foreign Trade Barriers and the so-called Section 1377 trade barriers to telecommunications products and services.

Section 1377 of the Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act of 1988  requires USTR annually to review the operation and effectiveness of all U.S. trade agreements regarding telecommunications products and services that are in force with respect to the United States. USTR will consider written comments in response to this notice regarding the trade barriers pertinent to the conduct of the review called for in Section 1377.

USCIB submitted comments on 43 individual countries regarding foreign trade barriers to U.S. exports for the following countries: Argentina, Australia, Belarus, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, European Union, Fiji, France, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Gulf Cooperation Council, India, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Kazakhstan, Korea, Latin America Malaysia, Mexico, Middle East and North Africa, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, Thailand, Tonga, Turkey, Uganda, the United Kingdom, Uruguay, and Vietnam.

Click here to view USCIB’s comments.

USCIB Gears Up for APEC CEO Summit in Vietnam

This week, USCIB’s Vice President of Product Policy and Innovation Mike Michener will attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) CEO Summit in Da Nang, Viet Nam, as a business delegate and representative of the U.S. APEC Business Coalition.

Organized under the leadership of the National Center for APEC (NCAPEC), USCIB will be joining other Coalition and NCAPEC members on the ground, including CEOs and executives from USCIB member companies. NCAPEC serves as the designated 2017 U.S. Strategic Partner for the CEO Summit, Secretariat to the U.S. members of the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) and as Chair and Secretariat of the U.S. APEC Business Coalition.

Throughout 2017, USCIB has addressed a number of issues through APEC to advance discussions across a range of issue. These include chemicals regulation, advertising self-regulation, data privacy, customs, and digital trade. USCIB members and staff have engaged in several APEC working groups, including the Chemical Dialogue, APEC Business-Customs Dialogue, Customs Procedures Virtual Working Group, Alliance for Supply Chain Connectivity, the Electronic Commerce Steering Group and Data Privacy Subgroup.

In Da Nang, Michener will meet with USCIB members, leaders from APEC economies and representatives of intergovernmental organizations to discuss member companies’ APEC priorities and USCIB’s work. They look forward to hearing from USCIB members in Da Nang, in addition to joining with Coalition partners, to advance common objectives.

“USCIB appreciates the numerous committed partnerships that APEC has established with the private sector,” said Michener. “These partnerships are addressing many economic opportunities, particularly on trade and regulatory issues, that will help foster greater economic integration among APEC’s twenty-one member economies.”

The upcoming APEC meetings in Da Nang include, in addition to the CEO Summit, the Concluding Senior Officials’ Meeting, Fourth APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) Meeting, APEC Ministerial Meeting and APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting. USCIB has collected priority issues from its membership for 2018, and will have the USCIB 2018 APEC Priorities and Recommendations Paper available in Da Nang.