USCIB and AFL-CIO Join Forces to Support Key Programs on Labor and Human Rights

CapitolUSCIB and the AFL-CIO recently joined forces in a letter co-signed by USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson and ALF-CIO President Richard Trumka to the House Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies and its Senate counterpart to support the Department of Labor’s Bureau of International Labor Affairs (ILAB) and the Department of State’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (DRL). Robinson and Trumka serve together as members of the President’s Committee on the International Labor Organization.

Separately, USCIB submitted written testimony to the House Committee on Appropriations to continue funding ILAB’s and DRL’s grants and programs. “These department bureaus are essential for ensuring compliance with our current trade law and a level playing field for businesses operating both in the U.S. and globally. The programs and grants of ILAB and DRL are critical to both employers and workers, providing essential support to efforts of U.S. companies and worker organizations to promote worker rights abroad, uphold labor commitments in free trade agreements, eliminate forced labor and child labor, and create an enabling environment for ethical business practices,” said Rob Mulligan, USCIB senior vice president for policy and government affairs.

The joint USCIB AFL-CIO letter is available here.

USCIB Urges Business Access in Comments to UNFCCC

As uncertainty in U.S. participation and leadership in UN climate negotiations and the Paris Climate Agreement continues, USCIB and its global network are pushing to ensure that business has a voice in the global climate policy process.

USCIB, the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and the Major Economies Business Forum (BizMEF) recently submitted coordinated comments to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) ahead of its Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI 46) meeting, to take place in Bonn, Germany on May 8-18, 2017. The USCIB, ICC and BizMEF submissions all make the case for enhancing engagement of Non-Party Actors (NSAs), particularly the private sector, in order to strengthen Paris Agreement implementation. USCIB’s Norine Kennedy, Vice President for Strategic International Engagement, Energy and Environment will attend the Bonn meetings, along with USCIB members from Monsanto and Novozymes.

In preparing the comments Kennedy noted, “As it stands today, the UNFCCC institutional infrastructure does not adequately reflect the role of the private sector and therefore must be updated and expanded to recognize and mobilize business engagement as part of global efforts to deliver on the Paris Agreement. In our view, the May Workshop during SBI46 on enhancing NSA engagement could provide valuable ideas to begin to build this vital institutional infrastructure for implementation of the Agreement.”

Governments have recognized the major contribution of the private sector to achieving the Paris Agreement, its entry into force and other follow-up activities.  As a long-time observer organization representing American business in the UNFCCC since 1993, USCIB has consistently sought to extend existing opportunities to participate in the international climate processes.  USCIB’s advocacy has focused on broadening and improving existing options to create a more comprehensive, recognized channel for business engagement to strengthen implementation of the Paris Agreement and ensure the effectiveness and resilience of the UNFCCC.

In its comments, USCIB emphasized that enhancing business engagement requires innovative governance and partnership, and will be a prerequisite for successful and cost-effective implementation. Kennedy stressed that “the UNFCCC should adjust its means of working with business to a more collaborative and mainstreamed mode. This will require innovative leadership by policy-makers to engage the private sector in new ways.”

USCIB’s comments also included suggestions for the SBI workshop’s objectives, a long-term vision for business engagement in the UNFCC, and the role of business in national pledges under the Paris Agreement, known as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). The full submission can be accessed here.


USCIB in the News: Joint Letter Seeks Fair Play in India

USCIB has recently been cited in two articles, the Economic Times India and the International Business Times India,  both of which featured a multi-industry letter that was sent to Congress regarding the United States’ role in ensuring fair play in India for American companies. USCIB joined a group of over twenty eminent American business organizations and industry groups, many of which are also USCIB members. The letter stated that “businesses in the U.S. continue to face an evolving array of tariff and non-tariff barriers, both longstanding and new, which impede businesses and manufactures in the United States from competing fairly in India and creating jobs here at home.”

The letter urges the U.S. government, including Congress, to use all available channels to ensure fair play and to support Indian efforts that align with U.S. goals. The letter emphasized the need to actively use existing as well as new platforms and tools to raise and resolve longstanding issues, including the U.S.-India Strategic and Commercial Dialogue, the U.S.-India Trade Policy Forum, and the WTO dispute settlement.

The letter is available here.

ICC Statement on Code Interpretation/Reference Guide on Advertising to Children

The Reference Guide on Advertising to Children can be found here. 

ICC Statement on Code Interpretation

The International Chamber of Commerce Consolidated Code of Marketing and Advertising Practice
(ICC Code) sets forth standards for marketing communications, including provisions addressing
special responsibilities for marketing “products” (as defined by the ICC Code, which includes
services)to children and young people. Article 18 of the ICC Code outlines principles for advertising
to children and young people, while Article 19 establishes principles for data collection involving
children. The purpose of this Statement on Code Interpretation is to clarify the age of “children” and
the age of “young people” for purposes of the ICC Code.

The ICC’s approach has been informed by almost 100 years of research on child development, and
recognizes that children, on the one hand, and teens, on the other, require special consideration
based on their differing ability to understand marketing messages. A wealth of data and historical
customs and practices support defining “children” as age 12 and younger (i.e. under 13 years old) for
marketing-related purposes, and this is generally the age the ICC intends when referring to “children”
in the ICC Code. Where the ICC Code refers to “young people,” the ICC generally intends this
phrase to mean teenagers (“teens”) under age 18. Children and teens are typically considered
“minors” and are barred from purchasing, consuming or using particular products intended for adults.

An overarching principle of the ICC Code is that marketing communications must be legal, decent,
honest and truthful, considering how the communication is likely to be interpreted by the primary
target audience. The ICC Code recognizes that some added fair marketing communications
principles should apply to both children and teens, while other specific marketing communications
principles should apply only to children. For example, products that are unsuitable for purchase, use
or consumption by children and teens in the jurisdiction where the marketing communications appear
should not be advertised in media targeted to them, while other provisions of the Code (e.g. the use
of fantasy in advertising) include additional best practices for child-directed marketing
communications. Likewise, children and teens should not be portrayed in advertisements using
products that are not appropriate for them to use.

The ICC recognizes that some local laws may define “children” and “young people” differently.
Marketers of course must respect local laws when it comes to structuring local marketing
communications. The ICC decision to adopt age 12 and younger as the reference age of “children”
for purposes of advertising and privacy provisions of the ICC Code, and to define “young people” as
teens under 18, reflects proven differences in the ability of children versus teens to understand
marketing communications, the very real differences in teens’ interests as compared to children, the
practical impediments to obtaining parental consent where data collection from teens is concerned,
sensitivities about teen privacy rights, and respect for freedom of commercial communications where
the principal audience is adults. Harmonization around this age will help maintain international
consistency, and is consistent with many content ratings and safety laws around the world.

Business Highlights Opportunities to Strengthen Paris Agreement

ParisWorkshopLast week, business, government, OECD and UNFCCC representatives attended a first of its kind workshop at the OECD to share experiences and explore next steps to enhance the role of business in the preparation, review and improvement of national pledges for the Paris Agreement.  Organized by BIAC and the Major Economies Business Forum (BizMEF),  the workshop included presentations of pro-active business dialogue and cooperation with national and regional governments from representatives of BusinessEurope, CNI, Keidanren, and MEDEF.

Opening the meeting, Russel Mills, Dow Chemical, Chairman of BIAC’s Environment and Energy Committee, stated that “in today’s increasingly inter-linked economies more in-depth cooperation between governments and business is essential to build the best models to most effectively tackle our major climate change challenges.” Over the course of the workshop, representatives of the UNFCCC and its Paris Agreement and implementation bodies presented their perspectives on where business could support action and inform technical discussions leading up to entry into force of the Paris Agreement and the development of rules for tracking progress of national actions.

Norine Kennedy, USCIB, presented a discussion paper, Business Engagement in Domestic and International Implementation of the Paris Agreement: Institutional Infrastructure for Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and the UN FrameworkConvention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) , prepared by USCIB for BizMEF.  The discussion paper offers case studies drawn from a BizMEF survey of its partner organizations and recommends a recognized business interface to be developed as part of the Paris Agreement institutional infrastructure.  This unique report offered to UNFCCC by leading national and regional representative business groups will be further elaborated and presented in final form at a BizMEF side event during the next climate meetings in Marrakesh in November.

BIAC representatives also attended the OECD Global Forum on Climate Change this week.  BIAC’s ongoing policy work to advise OECD member states highlights the necessity of innovative technologies and investments that will support and scale up mitigation, adaptation and resilience.  In his closing comments, Mills reminded the Workshop that when “business identifies the most cost effective options for climate policy, this helps governments and society tackle climate challenges faster and cheaper.”

To read the current discussion draft, click here. We will keep you informed of further developments.

The Sustainable Development Goals as Business Opportunities

SustainabilityThe scale and ambition of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) create a tremendous opportunity for the private sector to demonstrate the central role it plays in human prosperity. Business will serve as an essential partner to meet the challenge of achieving the SDGs.

The recently unveiled OECD Development Co-operation Report 2016: The Sustainable Development Goals as Business Opportunities, acknowledges the private sector’s role as a “powerful promoter of sustainable development”. It also highlights the opportunity for the governments to leverage private sector contribution, helping to manage risk and providing insights into effective policy and practice. The publication lists the enabling factors, as well as the constraints, for businesses and investors interested in addressing sustainable development challenges.

The report also provides guidance on responsible business conduct and outlines the challenges in mobilizing and measuring private finance to achieve the SDGs. Throughout the report, practical examples illustrate how business is already promoting sustainable development and inclusive growth in developing countries. USCIB and its global network contributed to the report:

  • Shaun Donnelly, USCIB’s vice president for investment and financial services, contributed an article titled “Pro-Investment policies really matter!” about the link between good investment policies and development (p. 61 in the report).
  • Louise Kantrow, the International Chamber of Commerce’s permanent representative to the United Nations, highlighted the shared interests between the business community and the development community in her piece, “Sustainable development challenges are business challenges.” (p. 28 in the report)
  • And during the report’s launch event, USCIB Vice President for Labor Affairs, Corporate Responsibility and Governance Ariel Meyerstein showcased the influential Business for 2030 website, an initiative by USCIB highlighting the contributions from the private sector in helping to achieve the SDGs.

More details, including ways to access the report can be found on the OECD Website.

Making a Difference: USCIB Annual Report 2015 – 2016

Annual_Report_2015-2016Around the world, and across every industry, companies are facing increased regulation of their operations. New corporate tax rules, heightened privacy protections, environmental reporting, forced localization – these are just a few examples of the proliferating regulatory burden with which global companies must contend. The cost of regulation is increasing, eating into profits and hampering job creation.

In addressing regulation of cross-border commerce, one important avenue is to work with intergovernmental institutions – such as the United Nations, World Trade Organization and the OECD – that help set the global rules of the road and recommend best practices to governments. This is at the heart of what USCIB does. And we do so both offensively, providing proactive education and informed views to policymakers at the national and international level, to ensure better, more sensible polices, and defensively, helping companies mitigate the costs of rules and regulations.

Find out more about our work and how we can help your company in our Annual Report.

USCIB Statement on Impact of Brexit Vote on ATA Carnet

Last week’s UK vote to leave the European Union has spurred many questions regarding the country’s future trade and treaty commitments, including the ATA Carnet system for temporary imports. At this time, the UK remains a member of the EU, and the process for leaving the bloc has not yet begun. We have no indication of any changes affecting the use of ATA Carnets in the UK, or in the EU as a whole, for the foreseeable future.

The earliest Brexit could take effect is two years after a treaty mechanism has been triggered. The latter part of 2018 is considered the most likely date at the moment.

“In the meantime members of the chain can continue to issue ATA Carnets for the UK as part of the EU in exactly the same way as they do now.  The UK will continue issuing exactly as present as well.” said Peter Bishop, deputy chief executive of the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

As the U.S. National Guaranteeing Association for the global ATA Carnet system, USCIB is monitoring the situation closely, working with ICC and affected parties including our ATA Carnet Service Providers. We will provide updates as new information becomes available.

USCIB Statement: Setting the 2030 Sustainability Agenda In Motion

un_headquarters_lo-resNow more than ever, business and the global community share a common goal of advancing economic development and sustainability while effectively addressing climate change. This week in New York, governments, business and civil society are gathered to move forward on the landmark decisions of 2015. Through USCIB’s Campaign2015, USCIB and its members supported and informed the decisions of Addis, Paris and New York.  This week our message is clear — it is time to get to work!

Together we have an opportunity to design and carry out promising solutions for the world’s economy and governments, reflecting the UN 2030 Development Agenda and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – and the conviction that business and governments should work together to address global challenges.  These universal agendas speak to everyone, including the business community. USCIB will approach these imperatives holistically, working with our global business network, the U.S. and other governments, and numerous other partners.

USCIB members are committed to advance the vital outcomes of Addis, New York and Paris, both those that have been decided, as well as those requiring further discussion and elaboration.

Addressing the challenges of sustainability demands new ways of working together, through partnership and enhanced engagement between governments and business.  We understand that the real effort is now beginning, as governments determine working details and put commitments into action.  In business, we too are moving to define priorities for further elaboration and what it will take to mobilize and scale up business investment, innovation and action going forward.

Our joint priorities should include:

  • Strengthening specific and distinct business interfaces to the UN system, such as the Private Sector Coordinating Group for FfD, the HLPF and to the UNFCCC and its bodies, such as the Technology Mechanism and Green Climate Fund
  • Tapping business expertise to catalyze and design enabling frameworks for, among other things, research, development, deployment and management of efficient and low-carbon technologies, investment, trade, finance, MRV, adaptation, risk management, and frameworks to promote effective, inclusive and efficient results.

We welcome the UN’s willingness to work in partnership with business so that we can build solutions to energy security, lower carbon development and sustainable economic growth together. USCIB’s platform, Businessfor2030, highlights the fundamental role business will play in helping to achieve the SDGs and 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

USCIB and its members are ready to demonstrate what we are ready to bring to this global effort, and look forward to working with governments, the UN community and society as a whole.

Read more about USCIB’s 2015 activities in support of the UN 2030 Development Agenda

Business Urges Policymakers to Avoid Trade-Distorting Data Privacy Measures


Paris and New York, March 22, 2016 – Some 10.2 billion new connected devices are expected to come online over the next five years – nearly double the number in existence today. Many of these devices will transmit user data for processing across borders. But a proliferation of forced localization measures and other government policies to restrict cross-border data transfers threaten to choke off essential cross-border electronic commerce.

Businesses from across the developed world are urging policymakers to avoid imposing rules on data privacy and security that distort global trade. In a new paper, BIAC, the Business and Industry Advisory Committee to the OECD, points to the crucial role of cross-border data flows for the recovery and future of the global economy, and calls on the OECD and governments to develop policies and regulatory frameworks that address concerns for security and privacy in the least trade-distorting way.

“Governments must avoid restricting trade through data localization measures”, said Clifford Sosnow, chair of the BIAC Trade Committee and partner with the Canadian law firm Fasken Martineau LLP. “Considering the importance of this issue for competitive markets, this paper offers recommendations to address the impact of data localization and at the same time deal with privacy and security concerns.”

The BIAC paper had significant input from the U.S. private sector via BIAC’s American affiliate, the United States Council for International Business. The paper estimates that, if fully enacted, government forced localization measures currently in place, or under consideration, could reduce global trade by $93 billion annually.

BIAC recognizes the OECD’s unique capacity to gather and develop evidence on trade restrictive measures on data flows, and accordingly requests the OECD to:

  • highlight to governments the impact of data localization on trade and investment
  • raise awareness among all industries on the importance of data flows for business operations and participation in global trade
  • promote policies that enable open flow of data, to support the rapidly growing number of business models that rely on data flows.

BIAC will work with the OECD to promote best practices in the field of cross-border data flows and encourage governments to refrain from measures that compromise the benefits of open markets and investment for growth.

Read the BIAC policy paper.