New OECD Reports Outlines Business Investment Contribution to SDGs

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has recently published a report on “The Contribution of International Business Investment to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).” The report surveys the main type of financing behind business investment in developing countries, recent trends, an evaluation of the contribution of these flows to the SDGs, and prospects going forward.

The report highlights that multinational enterprises (MNEs) have become one of the most important actors for channeling investment to the developing countries. A relatively new actor providing financing for development is the State-Owned Enterprise (SOE). Furthermore, mergers and acquisitions (M&A) is one of the primary vehicles that MNEs use to invest in foreign markets and a major component of foreign direct investment. M&A inflows in developing countries starting declining already in 2012.

An increasingly important source of international investment into developing countries is China; in 2017 China doubled its M&A in developing countries to $25 billion, making it their top resource of international M&A (ahead of Japan and the US). Meanwhile, private flows align naturally with the SDGs in the area of infrastructure: SDG 6, which focuses on clean water and sanitation), SDG 7 on affordable and clean energy, SDG 9 on industry, innovation and infrastructure, and SDG 10 which aims to reduce inequalities.

“The report calls to action for improving the global rules for trade and investment, pursuing domestic policy reform agenda to improve business climates, and addressing new areas of regulatory co-operation,” observed USCIB Senior Director for Investment, Trade and Financial Services Eva Hampl.

The OECD will be organizing a round table on investment and sustainable development on October 23, 2019, as part of the next OECD Investment Week.

USCIB Joins Coalition in Urging Specific US Government Action on US-China Trade

USCIB joined Americans for Free Trade, a multi-industry coalition consisting of over 150 members, to send a letter to President Donald Trump on April 22 regarding upcoming U.S.-China trade talks.

The Coalition letter urged the U.S. government to fully and immediately remove all recently imposed tariffs, including U.S. tariffs and China’s retaliatory tariffs as part of a final deal, while also encouraging the U.S. to come up with a deal that levels the playing field for U.S. companies by achieving meaningful changes to address China’s unfair trade practices that put American technology, innovation and intellectual property at risk.

Regarding unfair trade practices, the letter stated: “For too long, China has engaged in unfair trading practices, including forced technology transfer, cyber theft, intellectual property violations and more. We hope any final deal will resolve the structural issues that are at the core of the trade dispute in order to fully protect American technology, innovation, and intellectual property.”

The letter also urged the government to avoid any enforcement mechanism that would trigger further tariffs and obtain clarity on how the tariff exemption process will be carried out in the event of a deal.

Finally, the group also urged an economic assessment by the Administration examining the costs of tariffs for American businesses and consumers.

Americans for Free Trade represents companies that employ tens of millions of American workers and provide goods and services to virtually every corner of the United States.

Latest US Business Tax Dialogue With OECD to Focus on Digital Economy

Washington, D.C., April 23, 2019 – With national governments jostling over the appropriate means to tax the activities of fast-growing global tech companies, the G20 has called on the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to deliver a solution by 2020 to the tax challenges posed by the digital economy.

Against this backdrop, American and other global companies will meet with key officials from the OECD and national governments at a high-level conference, June 3-4 in Washington, D.C.

The 2019 OECD International Tax Conference, which will take place at the Four Seasons Hotel, will provide a unique opportunity for business experts to interact directly with key leadership from the OECD’s Center for Tax Policy and Administration (CTFA), along with senior tax officials from the United States and other OECD countries.

The conference is the 14th annual gathering on global tax policy developments convened by the United States Council for International Business (USCIB), in cooperation with the 36-nation OECD and its official private-sector advisory body Business at OECD (also known as BIAC). Details on the event are available at www.uscibtax.org.

“With the taxation of the digitalizing economy on a fast-track at the OECD, this year’s conference comes at just the right time,” said USCIB President and CEO Peter M. Robinson. “All companies are potentially affected by the changes that are being considered. We will also be looking closely at tax and development policy, the latest developments in tax treaties, transfer pricing and the tax implications of Brexit. It’s really a must-attend event for global tax professionals.”

Key speakers at this year’s conference include:
Pascal Saint-Amans – Director of the Center for Tax Policy & Administration, OECD
Grace Perez-Navarro – Deputy Director of the CTPA, OECD
Martin Kreisenbaum – Director General, International Taxation, German Ministry of Finance
Lafayette (Chip) Harter – Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Tax Affairs, U.S. Treasury
Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala – Economist and International Development Expert (Nigeria)
Doug O’Donnell – Commissioner, Large Business and International Division, IRS
Mike Williams – Director of Business and International Tax, HM Treasury (UK)
Will Morris – Chair, BIAC Committee on Taxation and Fiscal Affairs
Bill Sample – Chair, USCIB Tax Committee

The tax event continues USCIB’s fruitful collaboration with the OECD and BIAC on digital economy topics, following upon a USCIB-hosted March conference in Washington, D.C. on the OECD’s “Going Digital” project.

About USCIB:
USCIB promotes open markets, competitiveness and innovation, sustainable development and corporate responsibility, supported by international engagement and regulatory coherence. Its members include U.S.-based global companies and professional services firms from every sector of our economy, with operations in every region of the world, generating $5 trillion in annual revenues and employing over 11 million people worldwide. As the U.S. affiliate of the International Chamber of Commerce, the International Organization of Employers, and Business at OECD (BIAC), USCIB provides business views to policy makers and regulatory authorities worldwide and works to facilitate international trade and investment. More information is available at www.uscib.org.

Contact:
Jonathan Huneke, VP communications, USCIB
+1 212.703.5043 or jhuneke@uscib.org

International Chamber of Commerce Prepares to Launch Incoterms® 2020

Paris and New York, April 22, 2019 – The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) is preparing for the publication of Incoterms® 2020, an update of the renowned regulations that define the responsibilities of buyers and sellers operating in the international trade system, according to ICC’s American national committee, the United States Council for International Business (USCIB).

Facilitating trillions of dollars in global trade each year, the “international commercial terms,” or Incoterms® rules, are a commonly accepted set of definitions and rules governing commercial trade activity.

“The revised Incoterms® rules will have a direct impact on traders throughout the United States and the world,” according to USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson. “It will be important for everyone involved in cross-border business to familiarize themselves with the changes. We will be working to educate our members and the business community at large on the most important changes.”

Nearly a century ago, following a series of studies conducted in the 1920s, the Paris-based ICC concluded that there was a need for the creation of a common protocol for importers and exporters everywhere. The first set of Incoterms® rules was published by ICC in 1936. Since then, ICC has periodically revised the Incoterms® rules to reflect changes in the international trade system.

For the past decade, Incoterms® 2010 has provided critical guidance to importers, exporters, lawyers, transporters and insurers across the world. ICC is preparing for the official release of Incoterms® 2020 later this year.

USCIB said that, joining with ICC chapters around the world, it plans to roll out training programs and seminars alongside the worldwide publication of the new terms.

“Now more than ever, participants in the global trading system require guidance and clarity,” Robinson said. “With the emergence of new technologies, government policies, and environmental regulations, Incoterms® 2020 will provide a common framework for the future of trade.”

USCIB has established a central information page on its website for all the latest developments surrounding the introduction of Incoterms® 2020. Go to uscib.org/about-incoterms-2020 for more information.

About USCIB:
USCIB promotes open markets, competitiveness and innovation, sustainable development and corporate responsibility, supported by international engagement and regulatory coherence. Its members include U.S.-based global companies and professional services firms from every sector of our economy, with operations in every region of the world, generating $5 trillion in annual revenues and employing over 11 million people worldwide. As the U.S. affiliate of several leading international business organizations, including ICC, USCIB provides business views to policy makers and regulatory authorities worldwide, and works to facilitate international trade and investment. More information is available at www.uscib.org.

Contact:
Jonathan Huneke, USCIB
jhuneke@uscib.org, +1 212.703.5043

 

UN Partnership Forum Underscores Improving Relationship with Business

Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations Amina J. Mohamed opened the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Partnership Forum with a reminder to Forum participants that “we are all development actors.” The 2019 Forum, held at the UN headquarters in New York, convened representatives from governments, across the UN system, NGOs and business to share experiences on how to design and promote successful effective partnerships and how partnerships can advance the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and its 17 SDGs.

Ann Cairns, vice chairman of Mastercard, highlighted the necessity of enabling frameworks for partnerships, stating that the challenge is to “build out an ecosystem that works, country by country, for partnerships, and people have to be able to use that system.”

Three main sessions considered:

  • How to build effective country level partnership platforms
  • Multi-stakeholder partnership as a lever for inclusion and impact
  • Raising ambition for UN associated-partnerships

Norine Kennedy, who leads USCIB work on strategic international engagement, energy and environment, spoke on behalf of the International Organization of Employers (IOE), to draw attention to the importance of pursuing open, transparent and inclusive business involvement in informing and advancing UN outcomes and initiatives.

“In light of the substantial challenges ahead in the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, we should open the doors wide to partnership with the private sector,” stated Kennedy.

The Partnership Forum is part of the annual round of UN 2030 Agenda related meetings leading up to the UN High Level Political Forum (HLPF). While the HLPF holds deliberations on clusters of SDGs year by year, SDG 17 on partnerships is reviewed every year. Framed as a goal to “Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development,” SDG17 is being re-interpreted to emphasize partnerships with the full variety of non-governmental actors, including the private sector.

Donnelly Returns to State as “Economic Leadership” Panelist  

L-R: Manisha Singh (US Department of State); Charles Rivkin (Motion Picture Association of America); Shaun Donnelly (USCIB)

USCIB Vice President for Investment Policy and Financial Services Shaun Donnelly was invited back to the Department of State last week as a featured panelist at the annual “Economic Leadership Day,” session, organized by the three bureaus at State working primarily on economic issues.

Prior to joining USCIB in 2011, Donnelly led a long career as a Department of State Foreign Service Officer and held several senior State Department economic positions including Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business (“EB”) Affairs, which is the third highest ranking economic policy post at the Department, as well as Deputy Assistant Secretary (“DAS”) for Trade Policy, DAS for International Energy Policy and Economic Sanctions and U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka and Maldives.

At last week’s session, Donnelly joined President and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America Charlie Rivkin, who is the former EB Assistant Secretary and former U.S. Ambassador to France, on a panel moderated by Assistant Secretary of State Manisha Singh.  The panel, entitled “Don’t Stagnate, Innovate!” featured Donnelly and Rivkin offering advice to and answering questions from economic officers across the Department on lessons from the private sector for Department officers. In his wrap-up remarks, Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan underlined his and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s strong support for economic policy work and commercial advocacy on behalf of U.S. business as top priorities of the Department of State.

“I was honored to join Ambassador Rivkin and Assistant Secretary Manisha Singh on a free-wheeling panel at State’s Economic Leadership Day,” said Donnelly. I’ve spent the bulk of my professional career doing economic policy work at the State Department so these issues of the roles of the Department of State and the people there doing economic work are near and dear to my heart.  I really enjoyed the exchanges and the follow-up private conversations, especially with younger State Department officers with long careers ahead.  Anything we at USCIB can do to promote more interactions, better coordination between the Department and leading U.S. firms is to everyone’s benefit. I commend Assistant Secretary Singh and her team for an excellent event.”

USCIB Meets With UN High Commissioner on Human Rights

L-R: Michelle Bachelet Jeria (UN); Gabriella Rigg Herzog (USCIB); Peter Robinson (USCIB)

USCIB was honored to host the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and former President of Chile Michelle Bachelet Jeria during the annual spring meeting of USCIB’s Corporate Responsibility and Labor Affairs Committee on April 11 in Washington, DC.

USCIB Vice President for Corporate Responsibility and Labor Affairs Gabriella Rigg Herzog welcomed the High Commissioner and emphasized the U.S. business community’s firm commitment to respecting human rights across the world in line with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs). The UNGP serves as the global framework for governments, business and civil society regarding business and human rights.

The High Commissioner reflected on her experience to date as the global ambassador for human rights and stressed the need for all stakeholders – business, governments and civil society – to play an active and constructive role in advancing human rights around the world.

L-R: Roberto Suarez (IOE); Mthunzi Mdwaba (ILO); Michelle Bachelet Jeria (UN); Peter Robinson (USCIB); Gabriella Rigg Herzog (USCIB)

“Many USCIB corporate member’s individual and collective efforts to implement the UNGPs are underway,” said Herzog during her welcoming remarks. “USCIB and many of its members plan to highlight these actions and progress at the 8th UN Annual Forum on Business & Human Rights in Geneva this November. We have actively participated in the UN Annual Forum every year since its inception in 2012 and are pleased that for the first time this important meeting will center on the fundamental role that governments must play in carrying out their duty to pass laws that meet international human rights standards, and then effectively enforcing those laws within their own jurisdictions.”

United Nations General Assembly Commemorates ILO Centennial

L-R: Secretary General of IOE Roberto Suarez; IOE Vice-President to the ILO
Mthunzi Mdwaba; President of the International Organization of Employers Erol Kiresepi; USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson

As the International Labor Organization celebrates its one-hundredth anniversary this year, the United Nations commemorated this milestone at the UN General Assembly on April 10 under the theme “The Future of Work.” The commemorative plenary was attended by heads of state, ministers, heads of delegations from permanent missions to the UN, and representatives from the private sector, including USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson. 

Opening statements were made by President of the 73rd Session of the General Assembly María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés, Secretary General of the UN António Guterres, Director General of the International Labor Organization Guy Ryder, President of the International Organization of Employers (IOE) Erol Kiresepi, and others.

As IOE Vice President for North America, Robinson also took part in a luncheon, co-hosted by Espinosa Garcés and Ryder, to discuss progress, good practices, and lessons learned toward achieving the eight Sustainable Development Goal (decent work and economic growth). The luncheon provided an opportunity for participants to take stock of the progress in the implementation of sustainable development objectives in the area of promoting sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all. According to Robinson, the luncheon provided a terrific opportunity to support the ILO as an example of inclusive multilateralism embodied in its tripartite structure.

“We at USCIB are proud to celebrate the ILO’s centennial, alongside our partners in the Department of Labor, the AFL-CIO and the International Organization of Employers’ worldwide membership,” said Robinson.

USCIB Joins US Labor Department in Celebrating ILO’s 100 Years

L-R: Ed Potter (USCIB); Cathy Feingold (AFL-CIO); Guy Ryder (ILO)

Ed Potter, who serves as Counsel for USCIB, took part in a high-profile discussion on April 12 hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). The discussion was part of a broader set of meetings in 2019 celebrating the 100-year anniversary of the International Labor Organization (ILO). The event last week, entitled “Shaping the World of Work: U.S. Engagement with the ILO,” focused on the instrumental role of U.S. Secretary of Labor Frances Perkins in leading the United States to join its first multilateral institution in 1934 – the ILO. 

The event also featured U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta, Director-General of the ILO Guy Ryder, Director of the International Department of the AFL-CIO Cathy Feingold, and author of “The Woman Behind the New Deal,” Kristin Downey. 

Reflecting on the role the ILO plays in the world, Secretary Acosta noted in particular the ILO’s standard setting role and its work to highlight and address unacceptable child and forced labor practices in a number of countries around the world. Such poor labor practices also unfairly disadvantage U.S. businesses that prioritize doing business the right way with appropriate labor practices. On this point, Secretary Acosta stated, “free trade needs to include fair trade, and that means certain levels of labor standards that are enforced across the board, maintained, and that really should be prerequisites.”

Panelists reflected not only on the ILO’s history and achievements, but also looked ahead towards the ILO’s next hundred years and the role the ILO can play in addressing future priorities. Reflecting on the ILO’s unique governance structure in which governments, employers and workers all must come together for consensus decision-making, Potter stressed, “You can not underestimate the strength of the tripartite system that holds the ship together.” In terms of key milestones from a U.S. employer’s perspective, Potter cited the ILO’s 1944 Declaration of Philadelphia and the 1998 ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work as formative frameworks which are all the more relevant today – especially as the ILO looks towards its next century. 

This upcoming June, some 6,000 ILO tripartite constituents will come together again at the ILO International Labor Conference to negotiate, among other items, a new ILO declaration focusing in broad strokes on its next 100 years.

“USCIB will participate actively again, representing U.S. employers, constructively engaging, and playing a key role in these critical deliberations to steer the ILO “ship” towards the next century,” said Gabriella Rigg Herzog, who leads USCIB’s work on labor policy.

See below for the panel discussion:

At OECD Event, Business Encourages Girls to Dream Big

L-R: Ronnie Goldberg (USCIB), Anna Blue (Girl Up), Rebecca Campbell (Disney), Irena Sodin (Slovenian mission to the OECD), Monika Queisser (OECD). Click on the image to view a video recap.

On April 9, at OECD headquarters in Paris, Business at OECD (BIAC) organized a conversation with The Walt Disney Company and leading advocates for diversity in the workplace on the importance of gender inclusion within the creative sector.

Rebecca Campbell, president of Disney’s Europe, Middle East and Africa operations, presented on the company’s efforts to re-imagine gender narratives through its storytelling and “Dream Big, Princess” initiative. Since 2017, Disney has collaborated on this initiative with Girl Up, the United Nations Foundation’s program to support leadership development of adolescent girls around the globe. Campbell said that some 40 percent of the directors of its upcoming film releases were women, and it was committed to bringing that number to parity with men − despite an industry-wide average of less than 5 percent for top-grossing films over the past ten years.

A panel discussion, moderated by USCIB Senior Counsel Ronnie Goldberg, highlighted progress, challenges and opportunities for stakeholders to harness creativity and innovation for the advancement of gender inclusion. Panelists included Anna Blue, co-executive director of Girl Up; Disney’s Campbell; Irena Sodin, Slovenia’s ambassador to the OECD; and Monika Queisser, senior counselor at the OECD’s Employment, Labor and Social Affairs Directorate.

The event featured robust Q&A from an audience that included daughters of many OECD employees. Other speakers included BIAC Secretary General Russel Mills; Andrew Haviland, charge d’affaires at the U.S. Mission to the OECD; and Virginie Delalande, a coach and speaker and the first deaf person to become a practicing lawyer in France.

Following the discussion, participants enjoyed a cocktail reception and tour of Disney’s Dream Big, Princess exhibition, featuring inspirational photography and video content of real-life women and girls across the globe dreaming big.

Click here to view a short video recap of the event.