USCIB Member Appointed to Leadership Role in ICC Commission on Customs and Trade Facilitation

John Bescec, Microsoft

The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) Commission on Customs and Trade Facilitation has announced that Microsoft’s John Bescec has been appointed as new chair of the commission. Bescec is currently a vice chair of the USCIB Customs and Trade Facilitation Committee (CTFC) and a director of Customs and Trade Affairs at Microsoft.

“We are delighted to advise that ICC Secretary General John W.H. Denton has appointed new officers of the ICC Commission on Customs and Trade Facilitation,” said ICC Global Policy Director Andrew Wilson. “Together with the ICC HQ team, the officers will form a new Steering Group for the Commission to guide our work to tackle customs frictions globally — including our engagement with the World Customs Organization.”

Bescec, who is based in Canada and represents Microsoft at both USCIB and ICC – Canada, was jointly nominated for the position by USCIB and ICC-Canada. He will be stepping down as vice chair of the USCIB Committee to focus his efforts on the ICC Commission.

USCIB thanks Bescec for his leadership commitments and looks forward to actively working with him and the newly appointed ICC Commission Vice Chairs, who include Irina Kitiashvili, chief operating officer, IDS Borjomi Beverages (Georgia), Mahmut Kobal, group head of customs and international trade, Beiersdorf (Germany), Karen Poujade, group customs director, Alstom (France), Anil Rajput, senior vice president of corporate affairs, ITC Ltd (India), Alejandro Terzián, head of the Center of Excellence for International Trade and Customs Compliance, Bayer LATAM (Argentina).

“Working with the new leadership group, we will take the opportunity to assess specific areas of engagement in the coming weeks — including the status and mandates of existing working groups within the Commission’s remit,” added Wilson.

WTO and UN Host Global Dialogue on Trade and Food

USCIB Senior Vice President, Innovation, Regulation, and Trade Brian Lowry participated in an outreach event on July 6 convened by the World Trade Organization (WTO) Secretariat in collaboration with the United Nations Food Systems Summit.

The Global Dialogue on Trade; Trade, An Essential Piece of the of the Food Systems Puzzle was curated by Dr. David Nabarro and convened to encourage an informal dialogue and exchange of views amongst invited participants, representing a broad range of stakeholders from government, civil society, business, farmers, academia and more.

A high-level opening plenary with WTO Director General Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Special Envoy of the United Nations Food Systems Summit Dr. Alice Kalibata, was followed by discussions in ten breakout sessions amongst invited participants under Chatham House rules. Lowry participated in breakout discussion on Realizing the Human Right to Food, which was facilitated by Michael Fakhri, UN special rapporteur on the Right to Food. Other sessions focused on topics such as, international trade in food in times of crisis, global agricultural value chains, nutrition security, ensuring sustainable food trade and food safety.

According to Lowry, no reports or outcomes will emerge from the discussions in the breakout rooms. A high-level closing plenary presented in broad terms some of the subjects discussed in the breakout sessions and included closing remarks by WTO Deputy Director General Jean-Marie Paugam.

USCIB-IOE United Nations Side-Event Focuses on Global Recovery, Private Sector Innovation

As in previous years, USCIB, as part of the recognized Business and Industry Major Group at the United Nations in New York, hosted a side-event during the United Nations High-Level Political Forum (HLPF). Co-organized with the International Organization of Employers (IOE), this year’s event focused on private sector partnerships and contributions to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) and to powering a global recovery from the pandemic’s economic and social devastation.  A key element of this official HLPF business side-event was on encouraging and deploying business innovation.

The event brought together leaders from companies, employer organizations, the multilateral system, and more, to explore the innovative ways that business can be a valuable partner in defeating the pandemic, while restoring lost progress towards SDG’s. The event featured two panels; one focused on COVID-19 recovery and the second on private sector innovation, including on addressing climate change and the digital divide. USCIB speakers from Microsoft and Novozymes flagged the criticality of business engagement through partnerships with government, UN bodies and other stakeholders.

“Building forward better sustainably in the Decade of Action and Delivery will require a stronger than ever commitment to multi-stakeholder engagement and partnership,” said USCIB Senior Vice President Norine Kennedy. “Business is committed to the SDG’s, not only because implementing the 2030 Agenda is the right thing to do, but also because of the strong business case for doing so. The UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development offers business opportunities for new markets, job creation and sustainability solutions.”

Dr. Scott Ratzan provided an update on The USCIB Foundation’s initiative, “Business Partners to CONVINCE,” and its Global COVID-19 Workplace Challenge, which is tackling vaccine hesitancy and misinformation, especially in the work place.

According to Dr. Ratzan, “the private sector has been at the forefront of tackling the pandemic – from the historic race to develop vaccines, to opening premises to production of PPE and vaccination campaigns, to training and educating employees on public health and safety. Business has shown that it can and should be a meaningful partner in building back better, contributing not just funding, but innovation, expertise, technology, fresh ideas and diverse perspectives of business and employers, particularly Small and Medium Enterprises, who are so crucial to economic growth at the local level.”

In the News: USCIB Quoted in Tax Notes Following OECD Global Tax Update

USCIB Vice President for Taxation Policy Rick Minor was quoted in a lead article in Tax Notes on July 6 regarding the significant global tax update statement made on July 5 by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

The OECD inclusive framework on base erosion and profit shifting confirmed that 130 of its 139 members have agreed on key elements of the plan, which aims to address the tax challenges of an increasingly digital and globalized economy.

According to the OECD, the 130 countries and jurisdictions represent more than ninety-percent of global GDP.

In the Tax Notes article, Minor said the USCIB’s members will follow the inclusive framework’s progress closely. “I understand the next significant document will be the design and implementation plan mentioned in the statement,” he said. “We should expect consultation with the business community will continue more earnestly now.”

USCIB Tax Committee members Will Morris (PwC) and Robert Stack (Deloitte) were also quoted.

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.”

USCIB is Committed to Fighting for LGBTQI+ Equality and Inclusion

Pride Month may be coming to an end, but USCIB is committed to fighting for LGBTQI+ equality and inclusion throughout the year.

As stated in Article 1 of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights, “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.”

In her statement for Pride Month, United States Ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield pointed out: “The struggle to end violence, discrimination, criminalization, and stigma against LGBTQI+ persons is a global challenge that deserves a global response. LGBTQI+ status or conduct is still criminalized in more than 70 countries or territories, and many individuals continue to face discrimination, harassment, and violence at work, at school, and in public accommodations.”

USCIB and our members are committed to treating all individuals with dignity, respect and equity and call on the international community to fight for the human rights of LGBTQI+ individuals around the world.

Annual Labor Conference Deliberates COVID-19 and Social Protection

As in years past, USCIB participated in the International Labor Organization’s (ILO) International Labor Conference (ILC) June 3-June 19.  As the U.S. employer representative to the International Employers’ Organization (IOE), USCIB is the only U.S. business organization to participate in the annual conference.

Due to COVID-19, the ILC was cancelled in 2020 for the first time in its 100-year history and is taking place virtually this year.  A second session of the ILC will be taking place from November 25 to December 11 and will cover the critical topics of skills and inequalities.

In addition to standing agenda items, the June session included discussions on the ILO’s response to COVID-19 and Social Protection, as well as General Body elections for the 2021 to 2024 term, to which USCIB Senior Advisor Tom Mackall secured a position as a representative for the Americas. Declarations on the ILO’s Response to COVID-19 and Social Protection were adopted by the Plenary on the Final day of the ILC. USCIB Vice President for Corporate Responsibility and Labor Affairs Gabriella Herzog and Policy and Program Manager Daniella Goncalves participated in the Social Protection negotiations.

Notably USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson delivered remarks on the Director General’s Report, Work in the Time of COVID. After acknowledging and thanking DG Guy Ryder for his years of service, Robinson laid out USCIB priorities for a sustainable and equitable recovery from the pandemic. Highlighting Business Partners to CONVINCE (BP2C) and USCIB’s unique policy expertise and access to multilateral fora, Robinson noted: “USCIB continues to advocate to address decent work deficits through investments in securing rule of law. We remain particularly concerned by the persistent issue of forced labor, which requires international attention. The ILO has a critical role to play and should apply its expertise, leadership and resources to support the elimination of forced labor. “

“We are confident that through increased collaboration and policy coherence, investments in capacity building efforts, and continued social dialogue, with the ILO serving as the custodian of SDG-8, we will emerge from this pandemic a stronger, more resilient and inclusive society,” added Robinson.

WTO and Industry Leaders Discuss Future Work for WTO

USCIB and member companies Deloitte, Google, Mastercard, Merck, Pfizer and Walmart participated in a June 23 exclusive Virtual Trade Dialogue with World Trade Organization (WTO) Director-General Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and several WTO ambassadors. The Trade Dialogue, facilitated by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), provided a robust exchange between global industry leaders and the WTO leadership in three areas: WTO response to COVID-19, deliverables for the twelth WTO ministerial meeting (MC12) and future work for the WTO.

Ngozi expressed cautious optimism about the future of international cooperation, as evident from the successful outcomes of the recent G7, the G20 global health and the U.S.-EU bilateral summits. She reiterated the need to deliver concrete results at MC12 in the areas of trade and health, fishery subsidies and food security as a way to restore credibility in the WTO as an effective institution. Ngozi and WTO ambassadors pressed business leaders to engage their host governments to deliver outcomes, as well as to communicate the importance to global industry of an effective WTO, now and in the future.

Her messages were underscored by ICC Chair and Mastercard Executive Chairman Ajay Banga, who outlined the significance of trade to global economic recovery, and the imperative that nations reinvigorate the WTO as a functional negotiating and adjudicatory body. B20 Chair Emma Marcegaglia concurred, promoting a WTO reform roadmap and other trade objectives business would like adopted this fall by G20 leaders as a catalyst for MC12.

Industry participants expressed hope for progress in areas, such as the role of the WTO in future health emergencies, joint initiatives on e-commerce and services regulations, and trade facilitation for a circular economy, gender inclusivity and micro, small and medium enterprises.

For more, including a summary of the issues raised, click here to link to a WTO report on the Trade Dialogue.

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.”

USCIB Welcomes New Leadership in Board of Trustees, Board of Directors

Following recent membership elections, USCIB is pleased to welcome new members to the Board of Trustees and Board of Directors for the 2021-2023 term:

New Trustees include Palo Alto Networks CEO and Chairman Nikesh Arora; U.S. Chamber of Commerce CEO Suzanne P. Clark; Ernst & Young Global Chairman and CEO Carmine DiSibio; Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi; BP America Chairman and President David Lawler; Sullivan & Cromwell Vice Chair Scott Miller; The Chemours Company COO Mark Newman; PayPal President and CEO Daniel Schulman; and the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) President and CEO Johnny Taylor.

New Directors include SHRM Chief of Staff, Head of Government Affairs and Corporate Secretary Emily Dickens; Microsoft Vice President for UN Affairs John Frank; Chevron Vice President and General Manager for Government Affairs Karen Knutson; Exxon Mobil Vice President for International Government Relations Leyla Levitsky; Proskauer Rose Partner and Chair of USCIB’s Arbitration Committee Peter Sherwin; and Johnson & Johnson VP for Global Taxation and USCIB Tax Committee Vice Chair Louise Weingrod.

USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson also expressed his appreciation to the nominating committee, which was chaired by Novozymes A/S President and CEO and USCIB Trustee Sustainability Champion Ester Baiget; with members Deloitte Global Deputy CEO and Chief People & Purpose Officer and USCIB Vice Chair Michele Parmelee; and KPMG LLP U.S. Chair and CEO and USCIB Trustee Paul Knopp.