Internet Governance Forum (IGF)

The Internet Governance Forum (IGF) is a multistakeholder space that facilitates the discussion and dialogue of public policy issues pertaining to the Internet. The IGF was convened in 2005 by the United Nations General Assembly.

With the renewal of its mandate by United Nations in December 2015, the IGF consolidates itself as a platform to bring people together from various stakeholder groups as equals. While there’s no negotiated outcome, the IGF informs and inspires those with policy-making power in both the public and private sectors. At their annual meeting delegates discuss, exchange information and share good practices with each other.

The IGF facilitates a common understanding of how to maximize Internet opportunities and address risks and challenges that arise. The IGF is also a space that gives developing countries the same opportunity as wealthier nations to engage in the debate on Internet governance and to facilitate their participation in existing institutions and arrangements. Ultimately, the involvement of all stakeholders, from developed as well as developing countries, is necessary for the future development of the Internet.

The twelfth annual meeting of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) will be held in Geneva, Switzerland, from 18 to 21 December 2017.

Industry Appeals to China on Cybersecurity Law

With China’s broad cybersecurity law set to take effect next month, USCIB has joined with a range of industry groups from the United States and other countries in appealing for the country to delay its entry into force. Among other things, the new law would give law enforcement enhanced authority to access private data and require data to be stored servers located in China.

In a joint letter, the business groups said they are “deeply concerned that current and pending security-related rules will effectively erect trade barriers along national boundaries that effectively bar participation in your market and affect companies across industry sectors that rely on information technology goods and services to conduct business.”

The letter called on China to ensure that cybersecurity regulations comply with China’s World Trade Organization (WTO) commitments and encourage the adoption of international models that support China’s development as a global hub for technology and services.

USCIB Op-Ed: Time for Some ‘Tough Love’ at the UN

U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley (credit: U.S. Mission to the UN)

The Hill has published an op-ed by USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson on UN reform — see below. The op-ed is also available on The Hill’s website.

This op-ed follows on a letter to the New York Times on the same topic last month, as well as an op-ed on UN funding in January. It further advances USCIB’s position that the UN must work more effectively with the private sector and other stakeholders to advance shared goals.


The Hill

May 1, 2017


Ambassador Haley needs to dole out some ‘tough love’ to United Nations

By Peter Robinson, opinion contributor

Critics of the United Nations are gaining ground in Washington. Proposals to defund and disengage from the U.N. have been put forward on Capitol Hill and by the Trump administration in its proposed budget.

As a longtime observer of, and participant in the U.N. representing the American business community, I’d like to offer some unsolicited advice to Ambassador Nikki R. Haley, the U.S. representative to the U.N., on how we could work to improve the global body.

The U.N. deserves a lot of the criticism being leveled at it. Many observers, myself included, acknowledge that parts of the U.N. system often suffer from poor management, an inability to efficiently set and meet priorities and the tendency to take an unbalanced view toward certain stakeholders.

This is evident in the organization’s attitude toward the private sector. There have indeed been positive experiences, such as in the U.N. 2030 Development Agenda, where the U.N. is reaching out to the private sector to meet commonly agreed goals of poverty reduction, environmental protection and better governance.

But too often, in many parts of the U.N. system, the business community is still regarded with suspicion, and its motives are called into question or criticized as a conflict of interest. With criticism of the U.N. on the rise, now is the time for the United States to push for effective reform. Here are four areas where the U.S. could exercise some “tough love” in the United Nations.

First, insist on good management. Financial resources are scarce, and we need to know that our taxpayer dollars are being used wisely. New U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres has pledged to make the organization leaner and more effective.

Work with him to increase the ability of the U.N. Office of Internal Oversight Services to act as a truly independent “inspector general” throughout the U.N. system, with direct reporting back to U.N. governing bodies authorized to take specific action on recommendations.

Second, demand more transparency and accountability. The U.N. has taken steps to open its doors to non-governmental entities, but much more needs to be done, particularly from the standpoint of the business community. Too often, the U.N. sets global norms and standards with little or no input from outside stakeholders, including the private sector.

This is unfortunate, especially given the extent to which business is looked to for funding, innovation and implementation in such areas as climate change, improved nutrition and better health care. In addition, some U.N. agencies, such as the World Health Organization, actively blacklist business organizations from even observing their activities. This damages the U.N.’s credibility and effectiveness.

Third, ensure the U.N. avoids redundancy and mission creep. While the U.N. plays a central role in global governance, it cannot and should not do everything or have the final say. United Nations negotiators are sometimes too eager to take up issues already being addressed elsewhere, like in global taxation, data and privacy issues, or intellectual property rights.

This not only wastes government time and money, it creates uncertainty and confusion for companies and everyone else. The U.S. should guide the U.N. and its specialized agencies to focus their resources on areas where they can add the most value and where they have a clear mandate.

One way to do this would be to develop stricter guidelines for voluntary contributions from member states, which are usually funds over and above assessed contributions for pet projects that often deviate from an agency’s mission.

Fourth, and perhaps most important, encourage the U.N. to partner with the private sector. Governments can’t do everything. The World Bank estimates that effectively tackling global problems of poverty, health, job creation and energy access will require trillions of dollars over the next 15 years, with much of that coming from the private sector in the form of project finance and foreign investment.

But this won’t happen if business views are sidelined or ignored. The U.S. should spur the U.N. to step up its partnerships with companies in such areas as innovation, infrastructure and investment.

Ambassador Haley should focus especially on U.N. agencies and bodies that have kept the business community in the dark or at arm’s length. Organizations such as the WHO and U.N. Human Rights Commission have drifted away from their core agendas and have enacted counterproductive restrictions on business — a key community which is keen to bring resources, expertise and implementation to advance their respective missions.

We should insist on inclusive and transparent governance in the U.N., with an open door for responsible actors from civil society, including the private sector.

The United Nations has made important progress, and it must continue to seek out new opportunities for collaboration that can improve lives and increase prosperity in the United States and around the world.  But none of this can happen if the United States is not at the table. The U.N. was in large part an American creation. It’s going to be up to us to try to fix it.

Peter M. Robinson is president and CEO of the United States Council for International Business.


B20 Issues High-Level Digitalization Statement

blue tone city scape and network connection conceptThe B20 issued a high-level statement on “Digitalization for All: Towards an Inclusive Interconnected World” which was signed by fifty leading business representatives including USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson, who serves as co-chair of the Employment and Education Task Force. The high-level statement emphasizes the benefits of digitalization, from boosting consumer welfare to facilitating equality, and highlights it as a critical cross-sectoral and cross-cutting mean to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda. However, obstacles remain in terms of inadequate internet access, insufficient broadband coverage and the need to build skills to realize the full potential of the digital economy.

The statement recommends public-private collaboration to better prepare business and people for the digital economy and the need to regularly adjust curricula in schools, continuing education and requalification programs, especially for women and girls. The statement notes that Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) also need government support in increasing knowledge exchange and fostering expertise on technology application.

In addition to Robinson, signatories include Tom Donohue, co-chair of the Employment and Education Task Force and president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and a USCIB Trustee, Daniel Funes, chairman, International Organization of Employers and co-chair of the Employment and Education Task Force and Sunil Bharti Mittal, chairman of the International Chamber of Commerce and co-chair of the Trade and Investment Task Force.

The B20 Task Force on Digitalization also released a policy paper on “Digitalization for All: Future-Oriented Policies for a Globally Connected World.” Key recommendations in the policy paper include: (1) fostering global connectivity, which includes improving cybersecurity and enabling cross-border data flows; (2) strengthening Industry 4.0 and the Industrial Internet by fostering innovation and ICT infrastructure deployment; and (3) supporting the evolution of human-centric artificial intelligence (AI) and related technologies.  USCIB actively contributed to this paper.

USCIB Washington Update – February and March 2017

During the months of February and March, 2017, USCIB Staff hosted a conference with BIAC/OECD on Digital Transformation, discussed Brexit with Alexander Lau of the UK government and Chris Southworth of ICC UK, arranged a member briefing with Doug Frantz, Deputy Secretary-General of the OECD, and Bernhard Welschke, Secretary General of Business at OECD (BIAC), presented at the OECD Investment Committee meetings in Paris,  participated in the ICC Trade Committee meetings in London, provided comments on NTIA’s Internet of Things Green Paper, addressed customs issues at the APEC SOM 1 meetings in Vietnam, shared member views at the OECD Meetings on VAT in Paris, and much more. Below are summaries of these and other highlights from the activities of USCIB in Washington, D.C. over the last two months. If you have any questions or comments, or want more information on a specific topic, please contact any of the staff members listed at the end of this brief.

Table of Contents:

  1. Trade and Investment – Opening Global Markets for Trade and Investment
  2. ICT Policy – Promoting Sound Policies for New Technologies
  3. Tax – Advancing Tax Policies that Promote U.S. Competitiveness
  4. Customs and Trade Facilitation – Reducing Barriers and Costs from Customs and Border Control Practices
  5. Membership
  6. Upcoming Events
  7. Staff List

Trade and Investment – Opening Global Markets for Trade and Investment

  • UK Government Briefs USCIB Trade and Investment Committee on Brexit: On March 7, 2017, at the Citigroup offices in Washington, D.C., the USCIB Trade and Investment Committee held a conference call with Chris Southworth, Secretary General of ICC UK, and Alexander Lau, Senior Policy Adviser (Trade) at the Trade and Partnerships Directorate in the UK Department for Exiting the European Union. Alexander Lau provided an overview of the current political and legislative situation for the UK withdrawal process from the EU and Chris Southworth commented on the state of the government and the Brexit process from a business perspective. The Committee also received a briefing from Carol Doran Klein, USCIB Vice President and International Tax Counsel, on the Border Adjustment Tax (BAT) that has been proposed in the House and how it compares to existing tax law. Other topics discussed at the meeting included reports out from the BIAC and ICC Trade and Investment Committee meetings, a discussion on a potential NAFTA renegotiation, and the USTR’s 2017 Trade Agenda.
  • Mulligan Represents USCIB at ICC Meeting with WTO and UK Government Speakers: On March 23, 2017 the ICC Trade and Investment Commission held a full day meeting in London on a wide range of global trade issues.  Ian Ascough, Deputy Director, Multilateral Trade, Department for International Trade, United Kingdom briefed members on how the Brexit process will impact UK trade work.  He stressed their desire for a free trade agreement with the EU, no border in Ireland, and to be champions of free trade globally. They will seek to secure a UK schedule in the WTO and build up their capability in the WTO.  Rob Mulligan, USCIB Senior Vice President, Policy and Government Affairs, raised the trade concerns of business in needing sufficient transition times coming out of Brexit to address any changes related to customs, values chains, and regulatory requirements. Bernard Kuiten, Head of External Relations, WTO briefed the Commission on planning for the WTO Ministerial which will be held in Argentina this December.  Some areas that could be addressed in the Ministerial if member countries agree would include fisheries subsidies, e-commerce, services facilitation, agriculture, and investment.  The Commission also agreed to a suggestion by Mulligan to prepare a short paper on key ICC trade policy principles.
  • Members Raise Issues with OECD’s Doug Frantz and BIAC’s Bernhard Welschke: On March 9, 2017, USCIB members met with Doug Frantz, Deputy Secretary-General of the OECD, and Bernhard Welschke, Secretary General of Business at OECD (BIAC) who described current priority work at the OECD. Members raised issues they had on work related to trade and investment, digital trade, the G20 process, U.S. funding for international organizations, state owned enterprises, and broader themes regarding the anti-globalization rhetoric on the rise. Members directly voiced both concerns and support for specific work streams and ongoing processes at BIAC and the OECD.
  • Donnelly Speaks for Business at State’s OECD Delegate Training: On February 14, 2017, USCIB Vice President for Investment and Financial Services Shaun Donnelly was a guest speaker at an all-day training session for experts around the U.S. government who represent the U.S. at various OECD Committees, expert groups, and conferences. The training, organized and hosted by the State Department’s Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs (“EB”) which coordinates overall U.S. participation in the OECD, focused on ensuring USG subject matter experts are also effective USG delegates, representing not their home agency but the overall U.S. government. Donnelly represented the official “stakeholders” in the OECD system, specifically Business at OECD (BIAC). He urged USG delegates to consult closely with BIAC representatives at and around OECD meetings in Paris and to work here at home with USCIB and our members as the sole USG affiliate of, and entry point into, the BIAC business network.
  • Speaking Up at the OECD for Strong Investment Protections: Shaun Donnelly led the BIAC team during the March 6-10, 2017, OECD Investment Committee meetings in Paris. As a lead speaker at the OECD’s Global Forum on Investment on March 6 and its Annual Meeting on Investment Agreements on March 7, as well as in the BIAC Investment Committee delegation’s formal and informal meetings with the OECD committee and key delegations, Shaun delivered our key messages on the importance of strong investment agreements to provide predictable security assurances for foreign direct investments around the world. Strong International Investment Agreements (IIAs) need to include broad coverage and definitions, high-level core protections, strong enforcement provisions, and tightly drawn exceptions and carveouts. The tried-and-true Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) arbitration system generally works very well. Shaun was very clear about our deep skepticism over the EU’s radical new “investment court system” to replace ISDS. He also challenged advocates of new “multilateral investment frameworks” to explain how such multilateral bodies could reach the high-level protections and enforcement procedures in gold-standard Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs) like those of the U.S.
  • USCIB Leads Industry Meetings with USTR on Colombia OECD Accession: On February 16, 2017, Eva Hampl, Director, Investment, Trade and Financial Services, led a group of companies and associations in a meeting with Dawn Shackleford, Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for WTO and Multilateral Affairs, Zoe Sophos, Deputy Director for WTO and Multilateral Affairs at U.S. Trade Representative and Leslie O’Connor, Deputy Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Latin America to discuss the OECD Accession process for Colombia. Companies in certain sectors have been facing serious market access barriers in Colombia, which USCIB has been advocating must be dealt with before Colombia’s accession to the OECD can move forward. The group met again with Dawn Shackleford, Leslie O’Connor, and Joe Whitlock, USTR Senior Director for Innovation and Intellectual Property on March 23 for further discussions, given recent developments. USCIB also provided input into updated Business at OECD (BIAC) discussion papers on alcoholic beverages, pharmaceutical and health care issues, and scrapping incentives, which were finalized in March and submitted to the OECD for consideration.
  • USCIB Comments on the EU Investment Court: In March, USCIB submitted comments in response to the EU Consultation on their proposed Investment Court System. The comments reflect USCIB’s long-held and frequently articulated view that the EU’s proposal is an inadequate response to what is largely a political problem in the EU. USCIB calls on the EU to further elucidate why some of these changes are necessary in their view, and how those changes address the alleged problems they cite.

ICT Policy – Promoting Sound Policies for New Technologies

  • USCIB Urges U.S. Government to Avoid Prescriptive Regulation of the Internet of Things (IoT): On March 6, 2017, USCIB filed comments in response to the Federal Register notice requesting public comments on NTIA’s Internet of Things Green Paper. Echoing our 2016 submission, USCIB applauded the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s (NTIA) examination, “The Benefits, Challenges, and Potential Roles for the Government in Fostering the Advancement of the Internet of Things,” as timely and important. We expressed support for the themes of the so-called “green paper,” which included (1) continued private-sector leadership in the development of IoT, (2) government efforts to enable infrastructure availability and access; (3) removal of regulatory barriers, and (4) collaboration with the private sector to address potential IoT cybersecurity and privacy risks. However, we urged NTIA to avoid overly prescriptive regulation as well as duplicative or conflicting regulatory mandates for IoT.
  • USCIB Hosts Conference with BIAC/OECD on Digital Transformation: On March 8, 2017, the USCIB Foundation, the educational arm of USCIB, in partnership with Business at OECD (BIAC) and the OECD, organized a conference in Washington, DC on the digital transformation of the economy. “Fostering Digital Transformation: The OECD’s Role”, which was held at the Microsoft Innovation & Policy Center, explored how policy makers and the business community can work together to ensure that new technologies and digital applications can be utilized to realize a more prosperous, productive, inclusive, and socially beneficial world. David Redl, chief counsel for communications and technology at the Energy and Commerce Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives, kicked off the conference, underscoring the importance of fostering investment in U.S. networks, streamlining regulation, and improving online trust and security to bring the benefits of the Internet to every American. Other featured speakers included OECD Deputy Secretary General Douglas Frantz, and Andrew Wyckoff, director of the OECD Directorate for Science, Technology and Innovation, as well as USCIB member company experts from AT&T, Citi, Disney, Facebook, GE Digital, Google, IBM, Mastercard, Microsoft, and Verizon.
  • State/Commerce Officials Brief USCIB Members on the Multilateral ICT Agenda, Privacy Frameworks: At the ICT Policy Committee Meeting on March 9, 2017, Julie Zoller, Acting Coordinator for Communications and Information Policy, State Department, provided a comprehensive overview of the multilateral ICT agenda, noting key issues that will be addressed in the OECD, G20, and International Telecommunications Union (ITU). She encouraged continued engagement with USCIB in shaping the policy outcomes. In addition, Nasreen Djouini, International Trade Specialist at International Trade Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, offered an update on the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield framework and other EU privacy-related developments. Michael Rose, Policy Advisor, Office of Digital Services Industries, Commerce Department then debriefed members on the outcome of the February 22-25, 2017, meetings of the APEC Electronic Commerce Steering Group and Data Privacy Subgroup, noting that support for APEC’s Cross-Border Privacy Rules System has grown substantially. In the past six months, as many as five countries (Korea, China, Singapore, Australia and the Philippines) have demonstrated active interest in joining the CBPR system in the near-term, with Korea at the head of the queue, according to Rose.
  • USCIB Helps Further Business Priorities at ICANN 58: USCIB Vice President for ICT Barbara Wanner attended meetings of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) in Copenhagen, Denmark on March 11-16, 2017. USCIB member representatives from 21st Century Fox, Amazon, AT&T, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Verizon also participated. The meeting largely focused on domain name system (DNS) policy issues and inter-stakeholder consultations. Wanner participated in DNS meetings in her new capacity as the Business Constituency representative to the Commercial Stakeholder Group, enabling great input to policy discussions at the executive committee level on behalf of USCIB members.

Tax – Advancing Tax Policies that Promote U.S. Competitiveness

  • USCIB Represents Members at VAT/TAG Meeting: Carol Doran Klein, USCIB Vice President and International Tax Counsel, participated in the VAT/TAG in Paris. Two important topics that were discussed were the implementation of the VAT/GST guidelines and the role of platforms in collecting VAT/GST. The implementation of the guidelines is important, in part, because improving collection of VAT in the cross-border context was the only recommendation to come out of the BEPS work on the digital economy. To the extent that business argues that the proper tax to reflect the value of the market is a consumption tax, it is important that the VAT can be made to work across borders.
  • Carol Doran Klein Speaks at the Pacific Rim Tax Conference in Palo Alto: Carol addressed the Pacific Rim Tax Conference on the challenges and opportunities of the BEPS process. Carol focused on the need for consistent implementation of the BEPS outcomes and the importance of dispute resolution to that goal. The conference also provided an opportunity to interact with officials from many Pacific Rim governments including Australia, Canada, China and the U.S.

Customs and Trade Facilitation – Reducing Barriers and Costs from Customs and Border Control Practices

  • Giblin Represents USCIB at APEC SOM 1 in SCCP VWG and A2C2: February 20-24, 2017, Megan Giblin, USCIB Director for Customs and Trade Facilitation, attended APEC meetings in Vietnam in her Co-Chair role of the Subcommittee on Customs Procedures (SCCP) Virtual Working Group (VWG), where she briefed on the Industry Chemicals Project Status. SCCP participation provides visibility to USCIB members on key topics of discussion with the Customs representatives of the 21 APEC Economies.
  • USCIB Participates in Washington, D.C. COAC Meetings: On March 1, 2017, Megan Giblin represented USCIB and its members at the quarterly COAC meeting where, among other topics, formal COAC working group recommendations on the rulings process were approved and presented to Treasury, DHS, and CBP. Several of USCIB’s core issues and concerns were addressed in the recommendations.
  • USCIB Participates in Q4 COAC Meeting: Giblin also attended the World Customs Organization (WCO) 59th Harmonized System Committee (HSC) Session in late March along with Ken Montgomery of CompTIA, who served as the lead ICC delegate for this Session. On the agenda for the 59th Session were important USCIB member issues, including EHTP (Electrically Heated Tobacco Product), Crab Flavor, Petroleum Preparations, and technology matters issues like 3D printers and Selfie Sticks.


  • Membership Meetings: The Washington, D.C. membership department and policy staff met with representatives from member companies IBM, 3M, McDonald’s, UTC, Chevron, Cisco, Marriott, S&P Global and Visa to develop our understanding of their policy priorities for the next year and beyond, and to see how USCIB can better serve their policy needs.
  • New Members: USCIB has recently welcomed Mars as a new member.

Upcoming Events:

Meetings of the UN’s Committee of Tax Experts, New York – April 3-7

ICC Commission on Taxation Meeting, New York – April 7

ICC Digital Economy Commission (ICC-DEC) Meeting, New Delhi, India – April 4-5

B20 Task Force on Digitalization & G20 ICT Ministerial, Dusseldorf, Germany – April 5-7

BIAC and OECD Trade Committees, Paris, France – April 25-27

B20 Summit, Berlin, Germany – May 2-3

OECD Committee on Digital Economy and Its Working Parties, Paris, France – May 15-19

USCIB/OECD/BIAC 2017 International Tax Conference, Washington, D.C. – June 5-6

USCIB Trade and Investment Committee Meeting, Washington, D.C. – June 14

World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) Forum, Geneva, Switzerland – June 12-16

ICANN 59, Johannesburg, South Africa – June 26-29


USCIB Policy and Program Staff

Rob Mulligan
Senior Vice President, Policy and Government Affairs
202-682-7375 or

Erin Breitenbucher
Senior Policy and Program Associate and Office Manager, Washington
202-682-7465 or

Elizabeth Kim
Policy and Program Assistant, New York
212-703-5095 or

Shaun Donnelly
Vice President, Investment and Financial Services
202-682-1221 or

Carol Doran Klein
Vice President and International Tax Counsel
202-682-7376 or

Megan Giblin
Director, Customs and Trade Facilitation
202-371-9235 or

Mia Lauter
Policy and Program Assistant, New York
212-703-5082 or

Ronnie Goldberg
Senior Counsel
212-703-5057 or

Mike Michener
Vice President, Product Policy and Innovation &
202-617-3159 or mmichener

Eva Hampl
Director, Investment, Trade and Financial Services
202-682-0051 or

Chris Olsen
Policy and Program Assistant, Washington
202-617-3156 or

Alison Hoiem
Senior Director, Member Services
202-682-1291 or

Barbara Wanner
Vice President, ICT Policy
202-617-3155 or

Jonathan Huneke
Vice President, Communications and Public Affairs
212-703-5043 or

Kira Yevtukhova
Communications Manager
202-617-3160 or

Norine Kennedy
Vice President, Strategic International Engagement, Energy and Environment
212-703-5052 or


Business Finalizes Recommendations to G20 Sherpas

USCIB President Peter Robinson and IOE President Daniel Funes de Rioja (2ns and 3rd from right, respectively) at the B20 session in Paris
USCIB President Peter Robinson and IOE President Daniel Funes (2nd and 3rd from right, respectively) at the B20 session in Paris

USCIB President and CEO Peter M. Robinson took part in today’s Special B20 Germany-OECD-BIAC meeting at the OECD in Paris, designed to provide coordinated private-sector input to the G20 leaders, in advance of a key G20 sherpas meeting this week in Germany. The main G20 leaders summit is scheduled for July 7-8 in Hamburg, Germany.

“Today’s meetings were important because we finalized key recommendations to the G20 sherpas on trade and investment policy, job-creation and the digitalization of the economy, among other topics,” said Robinson, who serves as co-chair of the B20 Employment and Education Task Force. “We hope the G20 governments will take these recommendations to heart.”

B20 President Jürgen Heraeus stated: “If we want to ensure future-oriented, sustainable economic growth, business has an important role to play. We are ready to do so. This cooperation offers the outstanding opportunity to shape global economic governance. Our global economy is changing rapidly. We are facing a multitude of risks: climate change, political conflicts, terrorism to name just a few. The G20 can serve as an agenda-setter.”

The B20 meeting was co-hosted by Business at OECD (BIAC), and OECD Secretary General Angel Gurria addressed the gathering. “Business at OECD provides continuity and expertise across G20 and B20 presidencies,” said Business at OECD Chairman Phil O’Reilly. “We support the OECD in its vital mission to improve domestic and global economic governance. At a time when trade and investment across borders are subject of much ill-informed debate, OECD evidence on the substantial benefits of open and competitive markets is more important than ever.”

Daniel Funes de Rioja, chairman of the International Organization of Employers, also took part in today’s meetings. Meanwhile, USCIB Senior Vice President Rob Mulligan participated in meetings in London around the conclusion of the G20 finance ministers meeting, which was notable in part for the ministers’ decision not to re-emphasize their shard commitment to resisting trade protectionism.

Following the conclusion finance ministers meeting, International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) Secretary General John Danilovich issued a statement calling on the G20 governments to commit to shared values of openness and cooperation.

“We continue to face the challenge of global growth being too low and benefiting too few,” said Danilovich. “This is the defining economic test of our times, and we urge all G20 economies to take concerted and urgent action to enable inclusive growth. A retreat into protectionism would be the wrong response to this challenge.”

Danilovich continued: “Trade and globalization are complex processes, but at their heart are some simple truths. Trade means more choice for consumers. It means lower prices, so the money in your pocket goes further. Companies that trade are more competitive, and create more and better-paid jobs. That’s why trade matters if we’re to deliver the increases in prosperity, and reductions in inequality, that G20 finance ministers rightly committed to realize this weekend.”

“The global business community is naturally concerned by any weakening of the G20’s decade-long stance on resisting protectionism. We remain encouraged that discussions on this issue will continue in the coming months at official level. ICC will do all it can to urge G20 leaders to take the strongest possible stance on maintaining open markets at their annual summit in Hamburg in July. Protectionism is no path to progress.”

Wanner Represents Business at ICANN Meetings in Denmark

Wanner at ICANN Meetings in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Wanner at ICANN Meetings in Copenhagen, Denmark.

USCIB vice president for ICT policy, Barbara Wanner, attended meetings of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) in Copenhagen, Denmark last week, concluding a first of three rounds of meetings scheduled for 2017. Wanner joined 2,400 participants from business, government, civil society, and the technical community for a six-day meeting largely focused on domain name system (DNS) policy issues and inter-stakeholder discussions.

Wanner participated in DNS related meetings in her new capacity as the Business Constituency representative to the Commercial Stakeholder Group, enabling greater input to policy discussions at the executive committee level on behalf of USCIB members.

A noteworthy addition to this meeting – and reflecting heightened global concerns about protections of personal data – was a special “privacy summit,” which featured senior privacy officials from the Council of Europe and EU Article 29 Working Party. “An important result of the “summit” was recognition by the ICANN community of the need for timely, legal analysis of the implications of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation, which goes into effect May 28, 2018, on the processing of data related to domain name registrations and related contractual obligations of companies that register domain names,” observed Wanner.

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.”