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.”

Annual OECD Tax Conference Showcases Tax Reform

Mark Prater, chief tax counsel for the Senate Finance Committee, spoke at the conference.

Against the backdrop of new global tax rules developed under the BEPS Action Plan and efforts to advance tax reform in the United States, USCIB members and others from the business community gathered in Washington, D.C. on Monday and Tuesday for the 12th annual OECD International Tax Conference.

Organized by USCIB in concert with the 35-nation Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development as well as Business at OECD (BIAC), the conference has grown into an annual must-attend event for tax practitioners, experts and regulators from around the world.

With an eye toward the direction of possible U.S. tax reform, including reduction of the top corporate tax rate from the current 35 percent, Pascal Saint-Amans, director of the OECD’s Center for Tax Policy and Administration, told conference-goers that he expects most OECD economies to adopt corporate tax rates in the 20-30 percent range. Saint-Amans said there may be some exceptions, including in the UK, where top rates may drop below 20 percent.

Other speakers picked up the theme. “The current U.S. system is broken,” said Mark Prater, chief tax counsel and deputy staff director of the Senate Finance Committee, during keynote luncheon remarks. “Tax reform is a difficult political transaction,” he observed, but “the U.S. sits at a crossroads of reform, which is an opportunity that has not been available in a generation.”

Over the course of the two-day conference, which took place at the Four Seasons Hotel, participants discussed tax policy trends, current tax reform, tax uncertainty, digitalization, increases in intangible assets, and dealing with tax-related disputes through arbitration. They also focused on transfer pricing as well as the OECD’s new multilateral instrument, signed today in Paris.

“The conference provides a real opportunity for dialogue between business, governments, and the OECD,” said USCIB Vice President and International Tax Counsel Carol Doran Klein. “This year, because the focus is now on BEPS implementation, there was good discussion of opportunities to improve tax certainty, including a pilot International Compliance Assurance Program, Advanced Pricing Agreements and an improved Mutual Agreement Procedure.”

On the multilateral instrument, Will Morris, chair of the BIAC Committee on Taxation and Fiscal Affairs, told Bloomberg BNA: “Many of us in the business community doubted the OECD would get the consensus necessary for a document of this scope and substance. But they have, and [the multilateral instrument] opens the door to changes in the tax treaty process, and to a number of key international tax rules, that are significant.”

USCIB Delivers Statement on Trade Deficit at Commerce

Eva Hampl delivers testimony on behalf of USCIB at U.S. Department of Commerce

As the Trump administration seeks to reorient U.S. trade policy toward bilateral agreements, bilateral trade deficits have been put forward as a marker of the health — or lack thereof — of U.S. commercial relations with a given country. USCIB has taken up this issue in a recent statement to the Department of Commerce, as well as a public testimony that was delivered by USCIB’s Director for Investment, Trade, and Financial Services Eva Hampl on May 18 at the Department of Commerce.

In her testimony, Hampl emphasized USCIB’s view that trade deficits are a product of broader macroeconomic factors, not trade policy, and that the trade balance should not be viewed as a straightforward indicator of a country’s economic health. “While it is useful to address trade barriers that impede access for U.S. goods and services exporters to specific markets, we should not set up bilateral trade balances as the metric of successful trade policies,” she said.

Hampl concluded with 5 USCIB recommendations for the Administration:

  • Examine the trade deficit within the broader set of macroeconomic factors that determine it and include all elements of trade in the analysis, instead of focusing solely on bilateral manufactured goods trade balances.
  • Work with experts around the U.S. Government, international organizations, and academia to get the best data possible to guide the best policy making. We need much better measurements of real trade flows and value added, including in complex global supply chains and in services. We also need better data on FDI flows, both inward and outward.
  • Move aggressively to open foreign markets, and identify and combat foreign trade barriers to increase U.S. exports and improve our trade balance. We support the use of appropriate enforcement tools including the WTO, bilateral and regional trade agreements, U.S. trade laws, and efforts to open those markets and to combat illegal foreign subsidies and dumping into the United States.
  • Accelerate U.S. Government “commercial diplomacy” efforts to support U.S. companies competing to win deals overseas.
  • Reform the U.S. Government’s economic policies, including tax reform, regulatory reform, and energy development, to bolster the competitiveness of our firms, allowing them to win more and bigger deals overseas.

 

Washington Conference Looks at OECD’s Role in Fostering Digital Transformation

OECD Deputy Secretary General Doug Franz
OECD Deputy Secretary General Doug Franz

Cross-border trade in digital goods and services has grown 45-fold over the past decade. How can policy makers and the business community work together to ensure that new technologies and digital applications can lead to a more prosperous, productive, inclusive and socially beneficial world? And what lessons can be learned from current discussions and related work within the 35-nation Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)?

This was the focus of a conference today in Washington, D.C., “Facilitating Digital Transformation: The OECD’s Role,” organized by the USCIB Foundation, the educational arm of the United States Council for International Business (USCIB), in partnership with the OECD and Business at OECD (BIAC).

In opening keynote remarks, David Redl, chief counsel for communications and technology at the Energy and Commerce Committee, U.S. House of Representatives, compared extending broadband access to the construction of the interstate highway system. “Despite everyone’s best efforts, there are still parts of the United States that lack the infrastructure to meet universal availability and adoption,” he stated. Redl said government spending alone won’t get the job done. “We must also foster investment in U.S. networks, streamline regulation, and improve online trust and security to bring the benefits of the Internet to every American.”

OECD Deputy Secretary General Douglas Frantz identified several factors as key to ongoing digital transformation: improved communications infrastructure and services, new and innovative business models, improved consumer trust and privacy protection, effective policy making, and a robust approach to the challenges and opportunities posed by improvements in artificial intelligence (AI). On the latter point, he proposed that the OECD work toward some sort of policy instrument to address AI.

Andrew Wycoff, director of the OECD’s Directorate for Science, Technology and Innovation, outlined the OECD’s work to assess the G20 economies’ uneven progress to date toward enabling the digital transformation. He said the OECD’s upcoming policy recommendations would focus on the importance of boosting investment in digital infrastructure, ensuring competition in the ICT sector and the broader economy, and establishing sufficient trust in the digital economy while also making it truly inclusive.

Jacqueline Ruff, Verizon, gives remarks during panel
Jacqueline Ruff, Verizon, gives remarks during panel

During an industry roundtable on emerging technologies, Jacqueline Ruff, vice president for international public policy and regulatory affairs with Verizon, said public policy will be important to remove barriers to the deployment of fifth-generation wireless technology, while creating a pro-investment environment. “They key to 5G will be smart communities,” she stated.

Other conference panels examined questions of equity and potential negative effects of digital technologies, as well as ways to enhance trust in an increasingly connected world. Organizers said the event would help steer discussion toward practical measures to maximize the benefits of new technologies. Panelists also focused on jobs, as well as education and skills-development challenges and opportunities, posed by digital transformation and the efforts by companies, such as IBM, to create “new collar jobs” enabling a segment of workers in more mature industries to become productive participants in the digital economy.

“Getting policy right for digital innovation is a critical factor for economic competitiveness, for trust and confidence in the digital environment, and ultimately for societal well-being”, said Bernhard Welschke, Secretary General of Business at OECD. “We need to communicate the benefits of digital transformation and Business at OECD will continue to work closely with the OECD on this challenge.”

USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson stated: “We hope that today’s discussions will enable those who may not participate directly in OECD meetings to learn more about the OECD’s work and its value to the process and substance of crafting sensible, effective policy and regulation. Whether it is in providing frameworks, or in the development of consensus-based guiding principles, the OECD has a lot to offer and think about.”

USCIB Welcomes Entry Into Force of WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement

Harbor_tradeLandmark pact will reduce customs barriers and costs for U.S. exporters

New York, N.Y., February 22, 2017 – The United States Council for International Business (USCIB) applauded the entry into force today of the landmark World Trade Organization (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA), which will reduce the costs of trading across borders and lead to increased U.S. and foreign exports and jobs. The TFA, approved at the WTO’s 2014 ministerial in Bali, Indonesia, provides enforceable government commitments, which will reduce red tape at the borders, speed movement of goods internationally, reduce costs, increase exports and create jobs.

The WTO has 164 member countries, and its rules require two-thirds of its members to ratify and pass laws making necessary changes in their customs procedures in order for the TFA to go into effect. Today, Chad, Jordan, Oman and Rwanda  submitted their ratification notices to the WTO, achieving the two-thirds threshold.

USCIB Chairman Terry McGraw, chairman emeritus of S&P Global, stated: “It is so important to the American and global economy that these 100-plus countries have committed to streamlining their customs procedures to speed the movement of products and reduce their costs.  We commend WTO Director General Roberto Azevedo for his tireless efforts to make his happen.”

McGraw, who also serves as honorary chairman of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), the world business organization, and chaired the President’s Advisory Committee on Trade Negotiations, has been a staunch advocate for the TFA and for multilateral trade liberalization in general.

“The TFA will provide a shot in the arm to U.S. exports and to the multilateral trading system,” said USCIB President and CEO Peter M. Robinson. “Studies estimate that, when implemented, the TFA will cut the average cost of exporting by some 14 percent, delivering a net gain of $1 trillion in global annual GDP and spurring the creation of more than 20 million new jobs for the global economy. What’s more, the TFA demonstrates the continued importance of the WTO and of multilateral efforts to liberalize cross-border trade and investment.”

In addition to promoting the benefits of the TFA, USCIB has worked to secure overseas ratification of the agreement through bilateral meetings with numerous governments. It has also done so via its role as U.S. affiliate of ICC, which mounted a global campaign to secure ratification of the TFA.

ICC Chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal said: “The entry into force of the TFA is a watershed moment for global trade. The reality today is that many small businesses find themselves unable to trade internationally due to complex customs requirements. By cutting unnecessary red tape at borders, the TFA will have a transformational effect on the ability of entrepreneurs in developing countries to access global markets.”

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. With a unique global network encompassing 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.

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

2017 USCIB International Leadership Award Dinner: November 28

 

Honoring
Ajay Banga
President and CEO, MasterCard

2017 USCIB International Leadership Award Dinner

November 28, 2017

United Nations

USCIB’s International Leadership Award recognizes vision, international success and excellence in leadership.

USCIB is delighted to honor Ajay Banga, president and chief executive officer of MasterCard. Each year this gala event attracts several hundred industry leaders, government officials and members of the diplomatic community to celebrate open markets and the recipient of USCIB’s highest honor.

Established in 1980, USCIB’s International Leadership Award is presented to a senior business executive who has made significant policy contributions to world trade and investment, and to improving the global competitive framework in which American business operates. Join us for what will be a truly memorable evening!

We look forward to seeing you on November 28th!

About the Nominee

Ajay Banga is president and chief executive officer of MasterCard and a member of its board of directors.

Banga is a member of the U.S. President’s Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations and sits on the board of directors of the U.S.-India Business Council (USIBC), where he recently completed his tenure as its longest-serving chairman. Banga is a member of the U.S.-India CEO Forum and co-chairs the board of directors of the American India Foundation.

Banga was also awarded the Padma Shri Award by the President of India in 2016. He is a fellow of the Foreign Policy Association and was awarded the Foreign Policy Association Medal in 2012.

Banga serves on the Executive Committee of the Business Roundtable.  He is chairman of the Financial Services Roundtable, as well as vice chairman of the Business Council. He is a member of the board of overseers of the Weill Cornell Medical College and the board of governors of the American Red Cross. Banga also serves on the board of directors of The Dow Chemical Company.

Sponsorship Opportunities

For details on sponsorship opportunities, contact Abby Shapiro (ashapiro@uscib.org, 212-703-5064).