USCIB Meets With New OECD Secretary General Cormann on His First Official DC Visit

L-R: Kennedy, Robinson, SG Cormann, Johnston meet in the OECD Washington DC office in July 2021

USCIB members joined a first meeting and dialogue with OECD Secretary General Mathias Cormann, hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on July 21 in Washington DC. USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson, and Citi Managing Director and Business at OECD (BIAC) Chair Charles R. Johnston, led the discussion, along with USCIB Board Member and Executive Vice President for International Affairs at the Chamber Myron Brilliant.

As the U.S. affiliate of and representative to BIAC, the official business spokes-organization to the OECD, USCIB values and engages with OECD on a wide range of cross-cutting issues. In light of the U.S. chairmanship of this year’s OECD Ministerial Council Meeting on October 5–6 in Paris, the meeting offered USCIB Committee Chairs and other active member representatives the opportunity to highlight their priorities for OECD’s policy recommendations.

SG Cormann described his leadership priorities for OECD, which center around restoring economic growth and recovery, including through multilateral trade. He highlighted the thought leadership role of the OECD in G7 and G20 discussions of a global corporate minimum tax rate. He also discussed the potential for OECD to contribute to a possible similar global conversation on carbon pricing and carbon border adjustment. Other topics covered included responsible business conduct; tackling illicit trade; and innovation and digital economy.

In his closing remarks, Robinson stated, “Imagine what could be accomplished if all multilateral institutions followed the OECD’s consultative model to work with business and co-create solutions to urgent challenges!”

Robinson thanked Cormann, and said that USCIB and the American business community are dedicated to working with OECD through BIAC to show the way through and past the pandemic on fundamentals like regulatory coherence and combatting corruption, as well as on emerging technologies and issues.

OECD Concludes Final Workshop on Illicit Trade in E-Commerce Series

The OECD Task Force on Countering Illicit Trade (TF-CIT) recently concluded the third and final workshop in their “Project on Illicit Trade in E-Commerce” series, focusing on the experiences of online platform operators in combatting counterfeiting. Business at OECD Anti-Illicit Trade Expert Group (AITEG) supported these workshops as part of the new public-private partnership with TF-CIT.

USCIB Anti-Illicit Trade Committee Chair David Luna, joined by, among others, USCIB members from Amazon, eBay and Walmart, used this workshop to express their concerns and ongoing approaches towards combating illicit trade, as well as, possible ways forward, including companies’ online platforms planning to make better use of Artificial Intelligence (AI), for example, with regards to improved authentication programs and a greater focus on addressing intellectual property fraud. USCIB members highlighted that to counter illicit trade more effectively, closer partnerships within the business community are essential and stressed that collaboration with public authorities, as well as business chambers and associations should be enhanced.

“As the Business at OECD AITEG Chair, I applaud our new partnership with the OECD Task Force on Countering Illicit Trade (TF-CIT),” said Luna, “and I commend our members for their commitment to work through public-private partnerships to help fight illicit trade across the digital world. Together through collective action, information-sharing, and best practices, we can proactively target today’s online nefarious actors and criminal networks involved in the trafficking in counterfeit and pirated goods.”

As this was the final workshop on illicit trade in e-commerce, the OECD TF-CIT has created a website dedicated to this project available here.

USCIB Mourns the Passing of Rob Mulligan

Rob Mulligan (right)
Left: Rick Johnston
Center: Peter Robinson

USCIB members, staff and our global network are mourning the passing on June 20 of Rob Mulligan, former senior vice president for policy and government affairs.

Rob joined USCIB in October 2010 as Senior Vice President, Washington and was promoted to Head of Policy in 2013. With his broad Washington experience, knowledge of trade and investment policy, sound judgement, and always constructive advice, he was a valuable leader in and contributor to our organization.

“Following his passing, we at USCIB have been impressed and inspired by the number and kinds of messages that have been received from so many different corners of the world, just as we have been sad to have to say farewell to our colleague Rob,” said USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson. “We shall miss him.”

USCIB Board Member, Chair of USCIB’s Trade Committee and Business at OECD (BIAC) Chair Rick Johnston (Citibank) added: “Rob was a great friend and colleague in our DC international trade community—a real leader in helping us define and refine issues.”

Hanni Rosenbaum, BIAC Executive Director, noted “Having worked with Rob for many years, we will always remember him, his strong commitment to our common objectives and his courageous battle during his illness.”

Wilmer’s Lauren Mandell Speaks for Business on FDI Screening

Lauren Mandell

The OECD’s Investment Promotion Agency (IPA) Network organized seminars on the important issue of Government screening of inward Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) June 17 and 18. Lauren Mandell, special counsel at USCIB member law firm WilmerHale, was the sole business speaker at the opening session; other speakers were government investment promotion officials, regulators, and OECD policy experts. Investment screening is a growing practice around the world in both OECD member nations, including the U.S., and in developing countries.

According to USCIB Senior Adviser Shaun Donnelly, USCIB and the Business at OECD (BIAC) coalition have long spoken out in support of open flows of FDI in all directions, believing FDI promotes economic growth, competition, and jobs. Some screening, as in the U.S., is focused on national security consideration but “national security” can be abused to justify protectionist or mercantilist policies by host governments. And some governments have investment screening which goes beyond national security factors to broad, vague standards of “national interest” or “competitive need” reviews which can easily be abused to discriminate against foreign investors.

“Lauren Mandell did a great job of delivering the business perspective on this important range of issues,” said Donnelly. “Drawing on his prior experience as a USTR investment policy negotiator and participant in the U.S. Government ‘CFIUS’ review process, as well as his broad private sector experience, Lauren was able to shape the overall debate and ensure balance in the discussions.”

Donnelly, a longtime investment expert and former U.S. government negotiator was also able to chime in from the audience to support Lauren’s messages and highlight long-running U.S. government concerns over the government of Canada’s broad “National Interest” reviews of inward investment proposals.

“Lauren Mandell did a great job in getting the business perspective and concerns into this important debate at the OECD,” added Donnelly.  “It’s so important to have the private sector perspective included in these important policy sessions at the OECD and beyond. Lauren was able to bring real-world experience and credibility to very interesting panel discussion. We at USCIB are very grateful to BIAC for designating Lauren as a lead business speaker and, especially, to Lauren for making time to take on this speaking role.”

Brazil’s Accession to OECD: USCIB Hosts Discussion on Regulatory Good Practices

USCIB co-hosted a third meeting of the Brazil-OECD Business Policy Roundtable last week, gathering U.S. and Brazilian industry and government officials to discuss the advancement of regulatory good practices (RGPs) to facilitate Brazil’s accession to the OECD.

According to USCIB Director for Investment, Trade and China Alice Slayton Clark, Brazil is currently undertaking significant regulatory reform consistent with OECD guidelines, such as Recommendations of the Council on Regulatory Policy and Governance. Ministry of Economy Program Director Kelvia Frota de Albuquerque noted recent actions toward that end, including Decree 10,411 that makes regulatory impact analysis (RIA) mandatory for all significant regulations, which identifies the regulatory problem and assesses available alternatives to direct regulation. The decree was issued pursuant to the Regulatory Agencies Law and the Economic Free Law of 2019, coming into force with respect to the Ministry of Economy this past April, and will apply to other federal administrative bodies on October 14, 2021.

It is part of a whole-of-government effort to harmonize and streamline regulatory functions, according to Frota de Albuquerque. A restructuring of licensing and permitting throughout the country at the regional, municipal and local levels will require a significant cultural shift, high-level intervention from the Ministry of Economy and significant capacity building, data management, stakeholder engagement and ex-post analysis.

“Regulatory reform in Brazil is catalyzed not only by its quest for OECD accession but by regulatory commitments it will undertake when it ratifies the Protocol Relating to Trade Rules and Transparency signed in October 2020, updating the U.S.-Brazil Agreement on Trade and Economic Cooperation,” said Clark.

Deputy Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Latin America Courtney Smothers said that she hopes other workstreams will also inspire progress, including reforms advanced through the World Trade Organization (WTO) Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Committee, the U.S.-Brazil regulator-to-regulator dialogue, the Brazil-U.S. CEO forum and regional avenues, such as the Summit of the Americas.

Australia and Canada will be leading an OECD peer review of Brazil’s reform efforts, issuing recommendations next year for additional regulatory improvement, said Manuel Gerardo Flores Romero, coordinator of the OECD Regulatory Policy Programme in Latin America.

The Roundtable discussions are a private sector collaboration led by the USCIB, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Brazil-U.S. Business Council and the Brazil National Confederation of Industry (CNI). Additional roundtable discussions will be held throughout 2021, covering investment and trade, tax, environment and sustainable development, innovation and intellectual property. Digital issues were discussed at the March Roundtable earlier this year.

Digital Economy Conference Assesses a Decade of OECD’s Internet Policy Principles

Digital Economy Conference panelists and speakers

USCIB, Business at OECD (BIAC), and the OECD held another successful Digital Economy conference on May 25, which focused on a decade of OECD’s Internet Policy Principles (IPPs) and aptly titled “Policymaking in a Data-Driven World.” Distinguished speakers from the OECD and both the public and private sectors provided insights and expertise during the event: AT&T, Facebook, Microsoft, Google, IBM Ireland, Walmart, the Inter-American Development Bank, the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Department of Justice, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Center for Democracy and Technology, the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism, MIT, Georgetown University and others.

The IPPs, adopted in 2011, have underpinned the OECD’s evolving work on digital economy issues. The COVID-19 pandemic, which has required many to conduct their lives primarily digitally, highlighted the salience of the IPPs, with its calls for global free flow of information and services, multistakeholder participation in policymaking, and consistent and effective privacy protections and cooperation to ensure Internet security.

“History will likely show that the IPPs were one of the OECD’s more noteworthy contributions to policymaking in a digital economy world,” said USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson during his opening remarks.

Moreover, these themes have been echoed in recent digital economy work of the United Nations, the U.N. Internet Governance Forum and other multilateral bodies. The virtual conference also considered how the IPPs have been reflected in some of the OECD’s ground-breaking digital work – such as development of the Artificial Intelligence (AI) Principles and how IPPs may be employed to address challenges posed by the rapid pace of digital innovation and related changes to the digital ecosystem.

“Over this past year with the COVID-19 pandemic, we have witnessed an incredible acceleration of the digital transformation which has made our cooperation with the OECD all the more important,” said BIAC Executive Director Hanni Rosenbaum. “We see this third phase of the digital project as a key opportunity to advance, among others, secure and globally interoperable policy frameworks for responsible data sharing and collaboration on cross-border data flows with trust.

The conference was the fifth Digital Economy conference organized by USCIB, BIAC and OECD, and the second conference in the series that has commemorated the late Joseph H. Alhadeff.

USCIB Board Member Rick Johnston (Citi) Elected Chair of Business at OECD

Charles R. Johnston in 2015

USCIB Board of Directors member and Chair of USCIB’s Trade and Investment Committee Charles (Rick) Johnston has been elected as the new Chair of Business at OECD (BIAC). BIAC’s General Assembly elected Johnston on May 19 and will succeed Phil O’Reilly.

According to a BIAC media release, Johnston will lead high-level engagement opportunities, including BIAC’s participation in the annual OECD Ministerial Council Meeting and the annual meeting with the OECD Secretary General and Ambassadors. He will also guide BIAC’s overall strategy ensuring that BIAC represents the broad interests of its members.

“It is a time of transformation and rejuvenation,” Johnston said at the General Assembly meeting. “The OECD is about to hand the reins over to Mathias Cormann, its new secretary general. In that position, Mr. Cormann will lead the Organization as it takes on an enhanced role for guiding its Members and others in a sustainable recovery from a devastating global pandemic, and in an era that sees fundamental challenges to the potency of democratic governance and market-based economies. Our service as a trusted and credible adviser to the OECD has never been more important.”

Click here to view BIAC’s media release.

 

Educate to Vaccinate Event Promotes COVID-19 Global Workplace Challenge

Anuradha Gupta of Gavi

Update: a recording of the event is now available! (Passcode: %@vyo7?f)

Following the launch of The USCIB Foundation’s Business Partners to CONVINCE (BP2C) initiative and the initiative’s COVID-19 Global Workplace Challenge, the group held its first major event “Educate to Vaccinate: The Role of Employers” on April 29. The event brought together global public health and business experts, small and medium companies from around the globe, international employer organizations, and other stakeholders, to discuss actionable workplace strategies for vaccine adoption and the vital role employers can play in educating their employees on the facts about COVID-19 vaccines and motivating – not mandating – the workforce to get vaccinated.

“What better example of the transformative power of science, policy, business and society working together than the response to the pandemic,” said USCIB Executive Vice President Abby Shapiro, who leads BP2C. “Working with three of the world’s largest business networks including the ICC, IOE and Business at OECD to mobilize their business networks, BP2C will reach millions of workers with information and tools to combat misinformation and inspire confidence in vaccination. Keeping employees safe is not only the right thing to do, but also the way forward to a healthy, vaccine-literate workforce.”

Notable speakers at the “Educate to Vaccinate” event included GAVI Deputy Chief Executive Anuradha Gupta, Meredith Flynn-Ripley (Salesforce), Dr. Vicki Weldon (ExxonMobil), Julia Spencer (MSD), as well as public health experts: Larry Gostin (Georgetown University), Heidi Larson (The Vaccine Confidence Project and the CONVINCE initiative), Dr. Scott Ratzan (CUNY School of Public Health and BP2C), and Nancy Lee (Global Health and CONVINCE). Senior international business network representatives included Ali Karami-Ruiz from Business at OECD, Roberto Suárez Santos of the International Organization of Employers (IOE), and Andrew Wilson from the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC).

Participants also heard from companies and organizations across the globe that have already signed up to take the Workplace Challenge including Randstad North America, the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the American Staffing Association, and dozens of other companies and organizations around the globe.

“We encourage everyone to take the Workplace Challenge and, by doing so, showcase their commitment to educating their employees,” added Shapiro.

What are you waiting for? Sign up now for The Workplace Challenge!

Business Partners to CONVINCE (BP2C) is the private sector arm of the global, multisector CONVINCE (COVID-19 New Vaccine Information, Communication, and Engagement) initiative that advances vaccine literacy and promotes vaccine acceptance.

Donnelly, Hampl Help Lead Business Input on OECD China Work

USCIB Senior Advisor Shaun Donnelly and member company Dell staffer Eva Hampl led a significant “kick-off” session for Business at OECD (BIAC) and its China Experts Group to elevate and deepen a dialogue with the OECD’s Ambassadorial-level Informal Reflection Group on China on May 3.

The BIAC China team presented concerns and recommendations on four China-related items: state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and government support; inward and outward foreign direct investment (FDI) policies; innovation and digitalization policies; and a “climate neutrality” agenda. Other key topics will be addressed in future OECD and BIAC China discussions. Over 100 participants were on session, including OECD country Ambassadors and senior delegates, OECD staff, and BIAC participants, including USCIB members.

Representing BIAC, Donnelly led on FDI issues, focusing on both sides of the China investment coin – foreign investment into China and Chinese investment in our home countries and in third country markets.  With regards to investing in China, Donnelly highlighted business concerns over lack of a level-playing field, formal and informal discrimination against foreign investors, and a lack of effective rule of law in China. On the side of Chinese FDI in our countries, he highlighted two priority concerns, including establishing strong, targeted, and enforceable national security rules on foreign investors while avoiding investment protectionism. Donnelly also noted potential problems in competing against Chinese companies , often state-owned enterprises, which have invested in our markets can be heavily subsidized back home. Donnelly’s comments sparked a good discussion on the substantive issues and on priorities for OECD Investment Committee work going forward.

Hampl, a former USCIB policy director now with Dell’s Washington office, is Vice Chair of the BIAC China Experts group. Hampl was one of three BIAC presenters on innovation and digitalization issues, highlighting that supply chain resiliency, especially in the semiconductor sector, is at the top of global concerns with China and praising the OECD for its ability to decouple economics from politics on such vital issues. Hampl also noted the importance of engaging China constructively on a range of issues related to standards, privacy, intellectual property protections, as well as the broader issues of leveling the playing field and competition against Chinese SOEs.

According to Donnelly, other BIAC colleagues made assertive presentations on the unique challenges of competing with Chinese SOEs, especially in China, but also in the U.S. and around the world.  Several participants urged that disciplines on SOEs be added to the World Trade Organization (WTO) agenda and included in bilateral trade and investment agreements.  Finally, the climate neutrality agenda item provoked broad agreement that the OECD must play a leading role in the broader effort to enlist China constructively in the global climate effort; while much remains to be done, participants agreed that engaging China on climate should be somewhat easier now that the U.S. has rejoined the Paris Climate Accord.

BIAC Executive Secretary Hanni Rosenbaum, who led BIAC in this novel, in-depth BIAC/OECD session on China, was delighted with participation and the quality of debate. Rosenbaum sees potential for deepening and expanding the BIAC/OECD dialogue on China with new leadership coming to the OECD and a growing consensus among OECD member countries that China poses unique challenges.

“I thought it was an excellent session,” said Donnelly. “The discussion was substantive, candid and forward-looking. The four agenda items are crucial, but there are plenty of other important China-related issues where BIAC can make useful contributions to OECD’s work. These high-level, cross-cutting China discussions, hopefully to be held regularly, can complement in-depth work in specific OECD committees. There is a lot of challenging work with China and the OECD can play a valuable role in this effort.”

Alice Slayton Clark, USCIB’s new director for investment, trade and China will be leading USCIB’s work on China, both specific to the OECD and more generally, going forward. If you have issues, questions, or suggestions related to China, please get in touch with Clark.

USCIB Leads in Preparations for Upcoming China Meetings at OECD

USCIB members and staff played leading roles in the April 23 China Expert Group’s preliminary meeting to preview and discuss Business at OECD (BIAC) presentations that will be made at the kick-off session of the OECD’s Informal Reflection Group on China in May. During the preliminary meeting, BIAC experts, including USCIB Senior Advisor Shaun Donnelly and Dell’s Eva Hampl (formerly USCIB and now a Vice Chair of BIAC’s China group), advanced key points that BIAC will emphasize including on state-owned enterprises (SOEs), investment, innovation and digitalization, and climate neutrality.

With regards to SOEs, Donnelly and others emphasized the importance of including provisions on SOEs in future investment and trade agreements, updating World Trade Organization (WTO) rules on subsidies, drawing China into multilateral consensus on export and development finance, as well as engaging China to reduce excess capacity in steel and rejoin the Global Forum on Steel Excess Capacity. The investment dialogue between China and the OECD should also be intensified and made more substantive, rather than political, according to Donnelly. Updating the investment policy review of China is also critical since the last review was done in 2008.

On innovation and digitalization, Donnelly noted the need to review efforts to onshore production in the name of supply chain resiliency, to study global value chains to ensure that policies are driven by OECD-generated facts and not politics and protectionism, to foster cooperation on IT and Artificial Intelligence (AI) information-sharing and standards’ development, engaging China on implementation and dissemination of AI principles and policies, as well as monitoring and acting on China’s development of virtual currency along with its impact on major currencies.

“Engaging China on harmonizing carbon pricing and emission trading schemes, pushing China more toward sustainable investment policies at home and abroad (such as their Belt and Road projects use of fossil fuels) and continuing to press for mitigation and strong environmental commitments from China is key,” said Donnelly.

Donnelly also led a discussion urging BIAC, as a business forum, to press the OECD and its member governments for substantive reform and results in its engagement with China and to worry less about protocol and diplomatic formalities.

“It was great to have USCIB and American business actively involved in BIAC’s preparations for this important China strategy session at the OECD,” added Donnelly.  “With a new Secretary General coming to OECD in June, a new U.S. Administration looking to play a leadership role at the OECD, and steadily growing concerns around the world about some of China’s policies and practices, it’s vital that Business at OECD and its American members focus on these issues of how the OECD can play a useful role with China.”

Donnelly added: “Eva Hampl from Dell did a great job leading Friday’s discussion on the innovation and digitalization issues.  She and I look forward to our roles as BIAC lead speakers in the session with the OECD China group.  It was also great to see several USCIB members logging on for the BIAC discussion, confirming that China issues, broadly defined, remain important priorities for USCIB and its broad, cross-sectoral membership.”

If members have issues, questions or suggestions related to this BIAC and OECD effort on China, please contact Allice Slayton Clark (asclark@uscib.org).