2017 USCIB International Leadership Award Dinner

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!

USCIB’s “International Business” Summer 2017 Issue

USCIB’s “International Business” Summer 2017 issue is now live!

The Summer 2017 issue features USCIB President and CEO Peter M. Robinson‘s column on “Why International Organizations Matter to Your Business” as well as articles on developments in the B20, NAFTA and the UN high level political forum and the sustainable development agenda, 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.

USCIB’s Global Impact: 2017 Update on Advocacy

Welcome to USCIB’s Global Impact – an update on USCIB’s advocacy activities around the world in support of your interests. USCIB was at the table, along with many of our members, at key international deliberations– all for the express purpose of ensuring that the voice of U.S. business is heard where policies and regulations affecting your bottom line are determined.

Download Global Impact

At a Glance

USCIB President and CEO Out Front for American Business: USCIB President & CEO, Peter Robinson’s leadership at the B20 and OECD Week.

Keeping Markets Open for U.S. Business: With uncertainty regarding trade agreements due to political developments at home and abroad, one thing remains certain: international markets need to be open for U.S. companies. USCIB was on the ground meeting with officials from the OECD and WTO pressing for strong investment agreements and the removal of trade barriers, all in support of U.S. jobs.

Advocating for a Continued Open and Dynamic Internet: Cross-border trade in digital goods and services has grown 45-fold over the past decade. USCIB was at ICANN and the OECD advocating for policies that do not hamper innovation and that allow the Internet and broader digital economy to realize the tremendous potential to create economic opportunity and address social challenges.

Safeguarding the Role of Business in Environment and Climate Change Policy: An increasing number of multilateral organizations are considering proposals to keep business out of policy deliberations where decisions are being made that impact U.S. business bottom lines. This is particularly prevalent in the UN environmental space. USCIB was on the front lines at UNEP and the UNFCCC pushing back against these efforts as private sector involvement is critical to the success in solving the very problems that these UN agencies seek to address.

Making International Taxation Rules Predictable for Business: New global tax rules have been developed under the OECD’s Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) Action Plan. Now, the focus is on BEPS implementation and opportunities to improve tax certainty remain. USCIB met with OECD and other government officials urging them to consider the need for a predictable fiscal environment that will protect and encourage cross-border trade and investment in the context of implementing these BEPS recommendations.

Working to Reduce Trade Barriers: Unnecessary and burdensome barriers to trade can cost companies and national economies billions of dollars. The WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA), which entered into force earlier this year, promises to boost global trade flows by over $1 trillion and generate opportunities for easier, less costly cross-border trade. USCIB crossed the globe pushing for global modernization of customs laws, regulations, processes and day-to-day practices are necessary for efficient supply chains.

Leadership at the ILO and more…
Review USCIB’s engagement at the ILO’s International Labor Conference and the ICC Marketing & Advertising Commission.

Upcoming USCIB Representation around the World to be Covered in the Next Global Impact
APEC SOM 3 Meetings – Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam; August, 2017

WCO Harmonized System Committee (HSC) Meeting – Brussels, Belgium; November, 2017

APEC CEO Summit – Da Nang, Vietnam; November, 2017

ICC Customs & Trade Facilitation Commission Meeting – Paris, France; November, 2017

UNFCCC COP23 – Bonn, German; November, 2017

WTO Ministerial – Buenos Aires, Argentina; December, 2017

UNEA3 – Nairobi, Kenya; December, 2017

Historic Business Meeting at the UN Advances the Sustainable Development Goals

ICC Secretary General John Danilovich addresses participants at the Sustainable Development Goals Business Forum during the UN High Level Political Forum

USCIB members joined today’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Business Forum (live now on UN TV) during the High Level segment of the UN High Level Political Forum (HLPF) to highlight the role of business in advancing environmental, economic and social cooperation for the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  At this first business-organized meeting in the UN’s General Assembly Hall, speakers from the UN, governments, NGOs and business discussed private sector investment, information sharing and public-private partnership to take forward the 17 SDGs.  The SDG Business Forum was organized by the Business Coalition for 2030, a coalition of major business organizations and the UN Global Compact, facilitated by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC).

This year’s HLPF, from July 10 – 19, review and deliberations focused on SDGs on innovation and infrastructure, as well as food security, gender equality, health and oceans.  Speaking to the HLPF, USCIB Vice President for Energy and Environment Norine Kennedy stated, “Innovation, infrastructure, economic growth and empowerment and good governance are the four inter-linked cornerstones for all 17 SDGs for business.”  Kennedy also emphasized the importance of consulting with private sector groups at the national and regional level to develop enabling frameworks for business actions to advance the SDGs. Over 40 countries submitted national reports this year on their progress towards the SDGs.

In his remarks to the HLPF, ICC Secretary General John Danilovich noted that after two years of implementation, “the SDGs have been embraced by companies of all sectors and sizes as ‘Business Development Goals.’”

For this year’s HLPF, USCIB members, including Bechtel, Cargill, Citi, Hilton, Monsanto, Novozymes and Pirelli, added new examples of their actions to advance the SDGs to USCIB’s Businessfor2030 web platform.

For more information on USCIB’s SDG Working Group and Advocacy, please contact Norine Kennedy or Gabriella Rigg Herzog.

USCIB has been on the ground during the HLPF for the past two weeks, including supporting an International Agri-Food Network event on Agriculture and Food last week.

G20 Reaffirms Commitment to Resist Protectionism

German Chancellor Angela Merkel at G20 Summit

Leaders of the Group of 20 major economies wrapped up their summit in Hamburg, Germany by issuing a communiqué that forged compromise language over trade enforcement and trade liberalization, and advanced discussion of the digital economy.

But the Trump administration appeared isolated on climate change, with the other G20 nations recommitting themselves to action under the Paris Climate Agreement despite the U.S. pledge to withdraw.

“G20 leaders said the right words about resisting protectionism which will be essential in ensuring access to good jobs in the 21st century,” said USCIB President and CEO Peter M. Robinson, who serves as a co-chair of the B20 (Business 20) Employment and Education Task Force.

In their final statement, the G20 leaders committed to keeping global markets open, “noting the importance of reciprocal and mutually advantageous trade and investment frameworks and the principle of non-discrimination.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said at a closing press conference on Saturday: “I am satisfied that we managed to say clearly that markets need to remain open.”

John Danilovich, secretary general of the International Chamber of Commerce, said: “We commend the G20’s focus on strengthening the multilateral trading system. A strong, rules-based trading system is a pre-requisite to achieve the G20 leaders’ laudable ambition of making globalization work for all.”

USCIB’s Robinson also welcomed progress made by the G20 governments on enhancing digital commerce.

“We agree with the leaders statement that continued growth and innovation spurred by the digital economy will be essential to meeting the needs of people around the world,” he said. “It’s important that governments maintain a fundamentally pro-investment and pro-competition approach to the digital economy.”

But Robinson had a mixed reaction to the final language on climate change action. “Other members of the G20 are ramping up their cooperative efforts and joint action on climate,” he said. “so we encourage the United States to remain connected and involved in international collaboration for energy security and innovative technology deployment that is essential both for U.S. prosperity as well as tackling climate challenges at home and abroad.  USCIB continues to encourage the Administration to consider how to advance these efforts in the UN Climate treaty while it considers ways to re-enter the Paris Agreement.”

Regarding education and employment, Robinson emphasized the importance of educating, training and retraining to gain the necessary skills for the future of work, noting “workers need to be able to successfully adapt to change.”

USCIB Pushes for a Pro-Business Policy in Multilateral Forums

As an increasing number of multilateral organizations consider proposals to keep business out of policy deliberations, USCIB met with Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for International Organizations (IO) Affairs Nerissa Cook on June 26 to encourage the administration to implement a consistent pro-business access policy in multilateral forums and to build on existing positive interactions between the UN and U.S. business.

The State Department has the lead for managing U.S. government engagement with international organizations, including many in the UN system which take decisions impacting U.S. business interests from the standpoint of regulations, norms and standards in the global marketplace.  USCIB members have voiced concerns about several of these bodies, such as the World Health Organization (WHO), whose rules limit engagement with some private sector interests and set business-discriminatory precedents across the UN system.

“We appreciate the strong efforts across the State Department, IO and EB to advance and protect U.S. business interests,” said Mike Michener, USCIB’s vice president for product policy and innovation, who leads USCIB work in the health, agriculture, and chemicals policy.  “American business strongly supports continued U.S. government engagement in multilateral forums particularly where decisions are being made that impact U.S. business bottom lines.  Moreover, business brings its commitment, innovation, know-how, and investment to solving the very problems that these UN agencies seek to address via the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. UN agencies stand to benefit from employing the inclusive multi-stakeholder partnership approach used by the UN Environment Program (UNEP) in the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) and the Montreal, Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm treaties.”

In concluding the discussion, USCIB President and CEO, Peter Robinson, highlighted the practical importance of good governance principles throughout the UN, stating, “access, transparency and accountability to the U.S. private sector are prerequisites for business engagement in implementation of UN initiatives and policies.”

 

Potter Gives Statement on Climate Change at ILO Conference

USCIB Senior Counsel Ed Potter is currently attending the International Labor Organization (ILO) International Labor Conference (ILC) in Geneva, Switzerland (June 5-16) as a U.S. employer delegate. The ILC is discussing pressing global issues such as women at work, application of labor standards, peace and stability, migration and climate change.

Potter delivered the following statement on June 12 during the 2017 Plenary Statement on the Director General’s report on behalf of business regarding climate change and the Paris Agreement:

 

2017 Plenary Statement on the Director General’s Report

Adopted in 2015, the Paris Agreement on climate change is now the globally recognized framework for international climate action and represents a reset of the global approach to climate change.  Anything adopted by the ILO on climate change prior to 2015 should be reevaluated in light of the Paris Agreement.   The Paris Agreement is historic because it envisions self-determined actions and pledges by all countries, according to their priorities and resources.  Importantly, it eliminated the binary Kyoto annexes which divided 193 countries into 2 arbitrary categories.

We are concerned by language in the Director General’s Report that seems to over-simplify the challenge ahead, portraying a straightforward “green” vs. “dirty” choice of technologies, industries, products and jobs.  We do not live in a binary “green” job “brown” job world, and similarly we do not have “green” versus “brown” energy or technology.  The reality is more complex, and there are many other stakeholders involved – notably consumers.  The fact is that all industry sectors will need to transition to cleaner and more efficient operations and energy sources.  The scale of transformation required to meet Paris commitments cannot be met without business finding ways to respond to growing populations seeking reliable affordable energy sources to run businesses, schools, hospitals, etc.  Whether the discussion is on ICT and smart grids, or new ways to sequester carbon that could extend the use of fossil fuels while reducing their greenhouse gas emissions, or zero emissions transport, a fuller and more multi-dimensional picture of enterprises is needed.  It is not about the coal miner versus the solar panel installer – it is much more complex.

Transitions will be felt in the business community in the form of opportunities for new industries or products across a wider array of sectors than those normally referred to as “green” through supply and value chains and arising from regulations, costs or innovations that result in more disruptive change or harm to competitiveness.  Without growth and productive employment, there is less room for the successful protection of the environment and the promotion of decent work.  As enterprises are the primary source of job creation, a business-friendly environment remains an essential priority.   Sustainable jobs and sustainable businesses go hand in hand.

The Paris Agreement calls not just on governments but other societal partners, including the business community to act.  The business community has shown strong and continuous commitment to support the Paris Agreement and its implementation.  Delivering the Paris commitments depends on the full engagement of business and employers.  In fact, after my country’s recent withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, nearly 1000 large companies and investors joined a “We Are Still In” movement, representing 120 million Americans and 40 percent of the US economy at the state and municipal level.  Local attitudes are important and matter.

As highlighted in the Director General’s Report, over the past two years. the UNFCCC has launched its work on “Just Transition”.  Yet until last month, the UNFCCC did not adequately or directly involve business and employers on these topics – while the ILO has been consulted throughout, as has the ITUC.  It is only in the last 2 months that business or employer views have been communicated to the UNFCCC via a joint submission by the IOE and ICC, and by IOE and ICC participation in the May 9 Bonn meeting on the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.   The Roundtable highlighted the need for enhanced involvement of employers and the need for direct consultation with them in the future on just transition and other employment related matters.  Tripartism is a cornerstone of this Organization and should apply both inside and outside the ILO.

Much of the Director General’s report focuses on the labor market churn that will occur as a result of the transition from “dirty” to “green” jobs.  The strong impression the reader gets from his Report is that climate change requires a dedicated, special program by the ILO.  Our view is that structural change and job impact of climate change is not at all dissimilar from other ongoing structural change resulting from technological change.  Ask any expert about the future of work and you will hear about a world dominated by artificial intelligence, 3D printing, an on-demand economy, and five generations in a virtual workplace where almost any worker can perform almost any work from anywhere they choose. The ILO approach to climate change needs to be knitted together and treated holistically with other ILO structural change initiatives and the future of work.

Thank you, Mr. President.

 

USCIB Statement on U.S. Withdrawal From the Paris Climate Agreement

New York, N.Y., June 1, 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 the Paris Climate Agreement:

“Like many others in the U.S. business community, USCIB is disappointed by the news that the Trump administration has elected to leave the Paris Climate Agreement. In our view, this decision could leave U.S. companies unprotected and exposed to possible discrimination under the Paris Agreement if the U.S. government is not at the table.

“The Paris Agreement is redefining global markets for energy and environmental goods and services, as well as providing major economic stimuli for companies. U.S. energy security and access were never threatened by the Paris Agreement, which allows each national government to define its own climate action plan. Moreover, the U.S. stands to benefit from trade and investment opportunities that the Paris Agreement will set in motion.

“We are interested to learn more about how the U.S. will pursue new arrangements while remaining in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. While it does so, we encourage the U.S. to stay involved on behalf of U.S. economic interests, and to bring U.S. solutions to this crucial global effort. We encourage the administration to reform areas of the UN climate framework toward more fair, transparent and balanced approaches that are responsive to U.S. circumstances and aspirations.

“USCIB members are committed to advancing sustainable development and environmental solutions through international cooperation, and have supported the UNFCCC and the Paris Agreement since their inception. Multilateral forums and cooperative approaches are the best way to address the transboundary challenges of energy access and innovation, climate change and sustainable development. In close coordination with our global business partners, including the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and the Major Economies Business Forum (BizMEF), USCIB will continue to champion U.S. business interests in the UNFCCC, and will seek opportunities to promote U.S. environment and energy solutions through business engagement and implementation, and to broadly deploy climate-friendly investment and innovation.

“USCIB has represented U.S. business interests in the UN climate negotiations for over 25 years, and during that time has benefited from the diligent efforts of U.S. government representatives at the table to advance and defend U.S. business interests, often under challenging conditions. We express thanks to the current U.S. climate negotiating team, and others with whom we have worked, for their extraordinary efforts on our behalf.”

About USCIB:
USCIB promotes open markets, competitiveness and innovation, sustainable development and corporate responsibility, supported by international engagement and regulatory coherence. Its members include U.S.-based global companies and professional services firms from every sector of our economy, with operations in every region of the world. As the U.S. affiliate of several leading international business organizations, 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
Tel: +1 212 703 5043
jhuneke@uscib.org

Kennedy Delivers Pro-Business Messages at UN Climate Meeting

USCIB’s Norine Kennedy at the UN climate talks in Bonn

USCIB’s expert on climate change and environment, Norine Kennedy attended the most recent UN climate change negotiations in Bonn, Germany from May 8-18. Kennedy participated at the 46th session of the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI 46) which included a Workshop on Non-State Actors, at which she delivered a statement on behalf of Business and Industry groups attending the UN meetings on technology, implementation and the Paris Agreement.   Conclusions from the SBI focus on enabling frameworks for public and private sector climate action, and as such have important implications for the Paris Agreement.

On May 9, Kennedy participated in the SBI Workshop on Non-State Actors which was organized to explore new forms of engagement by business and other non-governmental groups.  Some developing country representatives and non-governmental groups advocated a limit or ban on business observers based on a distorted interpretation of “conflict of interest,” citing the World Health Organization’s Framework of Engagement for Non-State Actors (WHO FENSA) as a model.   However, government delegations from Australia, Canada, the EU, Norway, the U.S. and others spoke strongly in favor of full inclusiveness and the necessity of keeping business involved in the Paris Agreement.

“The purpose of this discussion is to extend inclusion and substantive cooperation, not to create a tribunal,” Kennedy cautioned during her intervention. “Most business groups are subject to abundant requirements for transparency in their national settings and then again here at the UNFCCC. There is almost no possibility of misrepresenting interests or members.  Governments and others know what the business interests are when they directly hear from them and they take that into account accordingly.”

Kennedy repeated and elaborated on these recommendations in an Op-Ed on TheHill.com on the importance of business participation in intergovernmental climate deliberations and partnerships, and was subsequently quoted by the New York Times and Le Monde. “The reason we were able to get the Paris Agreement in the first place was that the UN was willing to open their doors to a whole range of stakeholders, including business,” she stated in a May 16 New York Times piece entitled, “’Vulnerable Voices’ Lash Out as Companies Sway Climate Talks.”

Like it or Not, UN Needs Private Sector Input in Climate Talks

USCIB’s Norine Kennedy at the UN climate talks in Bonn

USCIB Vice President Norine Kennedy has an op-ed in The Hill today urging UN negotiators not to freeze the business community out of future discussion of climate change. The full text of the op-ed is available on The Hill’s website.

Kennedy, who attended the latest UN climate talks in Bonn last week, worked closely with the U.S. and other governments, as well as numerous business groups including the International Chamber of Commerce, to push back against proposals by a few governments and NGOs to curtail private-sector participation under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

 


 

The Hill

May 15, 2017

Like it or Not, UN Needs Private Sector Input in Climate Talks

By Norine Kennedy

BONN, GERMANY—As the current round of U.N. climate talks here in Bonn near their conclusion, delegates are allowing themselves a sense of cautious relief. The Trump administration has postponed a final decision on its continued involvement in the UN climate treaty – and the Paris Agreement concluded in 2015 – until after this meeting concludes on May 18. A hard-working, albeit smaller-than-usual, U.S. delegation is on hand, and the talks are moving ahead on a range of technical matters.

(Read the full text on The Hill’s website.)