Donnelly Co-Authors Op-Ed in The Hill on Commercial Diplomacy

USCIB Senior Advisor Shaun Donnelly and his longtime State Department colleague Ambassador (ret.) Tony Wayne recently co-wrote an op-ed in The Hill titled, “Biden’s Trade Policy Needs Effective Commercial Diplomacy.”

Wayne and Donnelly, both retired U.S. ambassadors, ran the State Department’s Economic and Business Bureau in the early 2000s; Wayne served as assistant secretary and Donnelly was his principal deputy assistant secretary.  Their recent op-ed recommends that the new Administration focus on strengthening a government-wide effort to support U.S. companies (and thereby, U.S. workers and localities) to win more business opportunities overseas in order to bolster American revenues, jobs, and global competitiveness across the United States.

According to both, the international competition is fierce, and getting increasingly more fierce every day. “Frankly other governments have upped their games in recent years, so we have some catching up to do,” they argue in the op-ed.

“High-level political support, interagency teamwork, strong Ambassadorial leadership in the field, and in-depth partnership with the U.S. private sector will be essential.”

“Both in our days together at the State Department and now as colleagues in the American Academy of Diplomacy, Ambassador Wayne and I have been working on these important issues of how the U.S. Government can best support U.S. companies and workers, to help them win more deals, contracts and partnerships around the world,” said Donnelly.  “We’ve worked with the Obama and Trump Administrations on these issues and we anticipate engaging actively with the incoming Biden team at key agencies, as well as key players at the White House, on the Hill and beyond.  The U.S. needs to up its game, play stronger offense on international commercial battlefields. I see this work as a natural extension of my earlier work at State and USTR on international economic and trade policy and also of the important work we at USCIB have been doing to support U.S. business.”

Op-Ed: Business Must Come Together to Respond to COVID-19 Now

Op-Ed by Scott C. Ratzan MD, Executive Director of Business Partners for Sustainable Development

Earlier this month, nearly 500 experts in public health, law and human rights wrote an open letter to U.S Vice President Mike Pence to act swiftly, fairly and effectively, warning that “the COVID-19 outbreak is unprecedented in recent American history, and there is no playbook for an epidemiological event of this scope and magnitude.”

Yet, just weeks later, we all are living with unprecedented turmoil from this novel coronavirus, COVID-19.

While the virus was named a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) by the World Health Organization (WHO), this is the seventh time we have had such a proclamation in the last two decades. H1N1 influenza, polio, ebola in West Africa and in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zika, all abated and did not cause as much havoc. Financial markets are on a roller coaster, planes grounded and many of us sheltering in place or in a self-imposed or government-recommended quarantine.

The future of our public health and economy depend on how government officials, policymakers, leaders and our fellow citizens react.

This includes honest, coherent, transparent, and timely communication while providing adequate funding and support for the response. The health care system needs immediate resources for equitable and effective infection control and the means to effectively manage the disease.

As 24/7 news, interactive websites, social media and alerts fill our day, the virus continues to spread. Unfortunately, without a clear treatment or cure, fear and uncertainty results in a rich environment for misinformation and misguided actions.

COVID-19 is a test of our system’s ability to address a legitimate public health threat with an unknown trajectory. Multiple sectors must leverage knowledge, expertise, networks and resources to produce better public health outcomes. Being prepared with a plan and being proactive is the name of the game in prevention, mitigation and management of risk and the adverse consequences of any threat.

Business must play a critical role in planning, implementing and adapting to this crisis due to its wide reach, resources and impact on employees, partners and markets.

Communication from employers on coronavirus is the most credible source of information, according to a recent Edelman ten-country study (March 6-10). This is consistent with a 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer, which showed that “my employer” is the most trusted institution by 18 points over business in general and NGOs, and by 27 points over government and media.

Employers are central in communicating the response. The public needs the assurance that as more is learned, information will be shared accurately and clearly from sources they trust.

This emergent threat challenges our society to cooperate amongst all sectors, including government, media, technology platforms and the private sector.

We know that large scale communication campaigns that employ behavioral economics, health literacy and communication levers (mass and social media) can drive citizens toward healthier decisions. As COVID-19 continues to spread, the business sector’s historical hallmarks of innovation, efficiency and management can help address the challenge we face today.

There are some promising examples:

  • A COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator supported by Mastercard will join with the WHO, government and private sector funders and organizations to speed the response to the COVID-19 epidemic by identifying, assessing, developing and scaling-up treatments.
  • The USCIB is leveraging existing networks to catalyze partnerships to address challenges, such as COVID-19. This includes working with the International Organization of Employers (IOE) and the International Labor Organization (ILO) to distribute WHO guidance on simple and low-cost measures for creating a healthier and more productive workplace.
  • The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and Business at OECD (BIAC) are also working on the design of an action plan to reach millions of businesses with recommendations to help governments deal with the threat to the global economy.
  • The Global NGO Business Fights Poverty is collaborating with Business Partners for Sustainable Development (BPSD) to develop an online “challenge” discussion on how business should tackle the coronavirus challenge.
  • NBCUniversal, Viacom/CBS, iHeartMedia, The Atlantic, Disney/ABC Television and the Ad Council will donate advertising inventory for campaigns that will advise consumers about social distancing, steps that can be taken to protect the public and more.

While the WHO was established to advance “informed opinion and active cooperation on the part of the public” we have now learned that health issues are not confined to one organization or sector.

Only by working together, with the public and private sectors, we can advance a society where our livelihoods are not threatened by similar future outbreaks and create a resilient society capable of responding to any future threat we may face.

Scott C. Ratzan MD is Executive Director of Business Partners for Sustainable Development. He is Former Senior Fellow at Harvard Kennedy School Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government.

USCIB in the News: Taxes, Trade and Tariffs

USCIB’s voice and views were reflected in many of the top stories of the past several months, which saw a heavy focus on taxes, trade and tariffs. USCIB and its global network were featured prominently in numerous stories covering NAFTA modernization, China tariffs and the OECD’s work on global tax policy.

In October, USCIB CEO and President Peter Robinson contributed a letter to the Financial Times in response to an editorial urging action on the digital divide. In his letter, Robinson noted that “public-private partnerships are indeed needed to broaden access to the internet, and companies are already moving ahead in this regard, in addition to taking action on their own.”

In discussing G20 trade tensions, USCIB Senior Vice President Rob Mulligan sat down with BBC World News to do a live television interview. Mulligan said that Trump is right to address the balance of trade between the U.S. and China, but that tariffs aren’t the answer and will ultimately cause higher prices and job losses.

To read more of USCIB activity in the media, please visit this link.

Hampl Testifies Regarding Proposed China Tariffs

 Following the Trump administration’s proposed Section 301 tariffs on Chinese goods, USCIB Senior Director for Investment, Trade and Financial Services Eva Hampl testified before the Section 301 Committee, chaired by USTR on May 16 regarding the proposal. Hampl’s testimony reflected USCIB member concerns about potential consequences the proposed tariffs will have on sectors vital to the U.S. economy. Her testimony was drawn from comments USCIB sent earlier this month to the U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer. Hampl was joined by over 100 other business representatives to share specific concerns regarding the proposed tariffs.

“We believe that the imposition of tariffs will not achieve the important goal of changing China’s behavior in the space of emerging technologies and intellectual property rights,” said Hampl in her testimony. “China’s threat of retaliation further exacerbates uncertainties caused by this proposed action. Rather than create more opportunities for U.S. business, sweeping tariffs will stifle U.S. agriculture, goods, and services exports and raise costs for businesses and consumers.

Hampl emphasized the need for a “holistic structure” to address the aforementioned issues. Speaking on behalf of USCIB, Hampl applauded the Trump administration for looking at alternative approaches, such as initiating a WTO dispute by requesting consultations with China.

“It is important for the administration to address these issues with a broad view, working collectively with U.S. industry, Congress, and our trading partners, to adequately address China’s unfair trade practices and get China to be WTO compliant,” noted Hampl.

The proposed tariffs pose a unique challenge to industrial inputs, which represent over 80 percent of the proposed list. Tariffs on industrial goods are especially problematic because they represent not just a tax on U.S. consumers but a tax on U.S. manufacturers and workers, and on the products they export. Tariffs on aerospace, machinery and IT parts and other advanced technologies can undermine the most competitive sectors of American manufacturing, driving up production costs in the U.S., impacting U.S. manufacturing employment, and making U.S. manufacturers less competitive against global rivals.

“Tariffs on industrial parts imported into the U.S. could have the unintended consequence of prompting manufacturers to move final production outside of the U.S.,” warned Hampl. “To see how U.S. companies will be affected by the tariffs, it is important to look to how the supply chain functions. China is the second largest economy and the largest manufacturing economy in the world. We cannot ignore that China may have some unique capabilities, at the product level, that U.S. businesses need to tap into in order to remain globally competitive. For many products or inputs, there is no feasible alternative to procuring from China. We urge the Administration to use this process to ensure that its actions do not inadvertently harm some of the most competitive sectors of the U.S. economy, and the hundreds of thousands of American jobs that depend on them.”

In addition to the testimony, USCIB also co-sponsored a reception last week for Hill staff centered around the China 301 hearing, as well as NAFTA, celebrating Great American Jobs Supported by Trade. Representatives from U.S. government, companies, and associations, spent the evening discussing various important developments in the trade space.

Fighting for American Business: USCIB in the News in 2017

Throughout 2017, USCIB President and CEO Peter M. Robinson, alongside other USCIB leaders and staff, garnered important coverage from the news media on issues critical to USCIB members. Policy issues ranged from NAFTA and the need to enshrine investor protections to the need for reform at the United Nations.

USCIB members and committee leaders, particularly Jerry Cook of Hanesbrands and Tam Nguyen of Bechtel, also made headlines on issues such as customs and trade facilitation and the evolution of corporate sustainability standards, respectively.

“USCIB won important news coverage in a wide variety of areas,” said Jonathan Huneke, USCIB’s vice president for communications and public affairs. “Thanks to outstanding thought leadership from USCIB President Robinson, as well as committee leaders and our staff experts, we were able to consistently punch above our weight, holding our own in a crowded media environment.”

Read the full 2017 media review here. To request an interview with a USCIB expert, contact USCIB Communications.

USCIB’s Customs Chair Writes on Trade, Customs in Adam Smith Project

USCIB’s Customs and Trade Facilitation Committee Chair and Vice President of Government and Trade Relations at Hanesbrands Jerry Cook recently posted commentary on the Adam Smith Project blog (formerly known as the American Shipper column).

The commentary urges all World Trade Organization (WTO) members to take necessary steps to join the World Customs Organization’s (WCO) Harmonized System Convention or commit to using it as the basis of the national customs tariff as well as commit to implementing the 2017 Harmonized System in a timely manner, seeking technical assistance from the WCO when applicable.

“The business world likes certainty,” Cook writes. “Understanding the factors that go into such landed costs as customs duties are key to assessing production and distribution costs. If there is any uncertainty over the common language of international trade, it can mean headaches, delay and extra cost.”

Read his commentary on the Adam Smith Project.

The U.S. and Mexico Must Work Together as Neighbors

Flag Badges of America and Mexico in PileUSCIB Chairman Terry McGraw has joined with ICC Mexico Chair Maria Fernanda Garza in a joint appeal for the United States and Mexico to work together to address common challenges of trade, immigration and security.

In a joint op-ed in the Mexican newspaper El Financiero, the two business leaders urged their compatriots to reject the antagonism emanating from the U.S. campaign trail, reminding readers of the direct and measurable benefits the North American Free Trade Agreement has brought to both Mexicans and Americans alike.

McGraw and Fernanda Garza finished by reiterating that the business communities of both the United States and Mexico are united in their support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which they urged their respective legislatures to ratify without delay.

Please see below for the English translation of the op-ed. To read it in Spanish on El Financiero’s website, click here.

USCIB and ICC Mexico each serve as their country’s national committees of the International Chamber of Commerce.

 

The U.S. and Mexico Must Work Together as Neighbors

By Harold McGraw III and María Fernanda Garza

If the U.S. presidential campaign has reminded us of anything, it is the importance of neighborliness. Just as your own neighborhood deteriorates if you and your neighbors don’t communicate or work together well, so it is in business and international affairs.

Right now, on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border, we face a stark choice: build walls, foster mistrust and disengage our economies – or work together to continue building shared prosperity. As representatives of the business communities from both nations, we strongly urge our fellow countrymen and our leaders to choose the latter course.

Since the North American Free Trade Agreement was negotiated more than 20 years ago, Mexico and the United States have enjoyed an increasingly close and mutually beneficial relationship that builds on our respective strengths and abilities, our vibrant economies and vast resources, our unique position as neighbors and, most importantly, our peoples. Mexico, the U.S. and Canada have turned North America into one of the most important and most dynamic free trade areas in the world. It has taken foresight and resolve.

Bilateral trade between Mexico and the U.S. has multiplied by six since NAFTA’s entry into force, reaching nearly $500 billion in 2015. Mexico is now the second-largest export market for U.S. goods and its second-largest supplier. It is estimated that U.S. trade with Mexico supports some six million American jobs.

With a growing, $1 trillion economy and a developing middle class that eagerly consumes U.S. and other foreign products, Mexico is the world’s 9th-largest world importer, and it buys 16 percent of everything the U.S. sells to the world. It is the largest export market for California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, and one of the three most important export markets for 29 other U.S. states.

This burgeoning trade relationship is built upon regional economic integration, cooperation and capitalizing on both nations’ competitiveness. Bilateral trade often occurs in the context of shared production, where manufacturers on each side of the border work together to produce goods. The development of robust supply chains as a result of NAFTA has translated into highly integrated trade in such key industries as automobiles, aerospace and electronics.

For instance, Mexican exports to the U.S. contain 40 percent of U.S. value-added, which is much higher than those from South Korea or China which are at five percent and four percent, respectively.

The U.S. and Mexico have a shared interest in fostering economic integration in North America, which is becoming, once again, the most competitive region in the world. Among other things, both countries need to ensure an efficient and secure border, the development of human capital for innovation and the growth of the services sector.

Businesses on both sides of the border firmly believe that the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) will further strengthen Mexico-U.S. relations, North American competitiveness and our shared prosperity by encouraging competition and setting new and modern disciplines in the Asia-Pacific Region. With TPP, North America will become an even more important export platform to the world, with the consequent creation of jobs. We therefore are urging our respective legislatures to quickly ratify the TPP.

Especially in the face of growing protectionist and isolationist sentiment, we cannot stress strongly enough the critical importance of closer cooperation between our two governments in fostering a strong U.S.-Mexico relationship – one that contributes to shared economic growth, competitiveness and prosperity throughout North America. As neighbors, we have a shared responsibility to keep the neighborhood safe and prosperous.

Harold McGraw III is chairman of the United States Council for International Business. Maria Fernanda Garza chairs the Mexican chapter of the International Chamber of Commerce.

On trade, time for US to play offense

The Hill – March 9, 2015

An op-ed by USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson and former Congressman James Bacchus argues that the United States needs to capitalize on changes in global economics and energy markets to go on the offensive and negotiate new, market-opening trade agreements.

On trade, time for US to play offense

Make 2015 the Year of Trade

By Jerry Cook, HanesBrands, Chair of USCIB’s Customs & Trade Facilitation Committee

“A new year means new opportunities, especially in the trade world. With the recently resurrected World Trade Organization Trade Facilitation Agreement seemingly back on track, and Trans-Pacific Partnership close to completion, 2015 should be the year of trade.”

Read the full column at American Shipper.

New CBP Chief Creates New Opportunities

By Jerry Cook, HanesBrands, Chair of USCIB’s Customs & Trade Facilitation Committee

American Shipper

“As we dash through spring, I remain positive about the exciting developments in our trade realm, in particular the Customs community. The U.S. Senate confirmation of Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Gil Kerlikowske ushers in new opportunities to strengthen the public-private sector relationship and enhances the focus on executing trade more efficiently.”

Read the full column: https://www.uscib.org/docs/2014_06_09_Jerry_Cook_Column_American_Shipper.pdf