USCIB Promotes ATA Carnet as Tool for Department of Commerce

Andy Shiles (left) with Under Secretary for International Trade, Department of Commerce Gilbert Kaplan (right)

USCIB joined a breakfast meeting in New York with the Under Secretary for International Trade with the Department of Commerce Gilbert Kaplan last week. NY District Department of Commerce Director Carmela Mammas and Joe Schoonmaker from the NY District Export Council (NYDEC) hosted the meeting, which was attended by Andy Shiles, USCIB’s senior vice president for ATA Carnet and trade services.

Kaplan discussed the effort of the Department of Commerce offices to reach out and collaborate with U.S. Ambassadors around the world to utilize Embassies for networking and meeting opportunities for American businesses to establish and strengthen business relationships in other countries to help stimulate international trade.

“There are exciting times in the world of international trade,” commented Shiles. “Under Secretary Kaplan received excellent comments from several representing the NYDEC. You can guess that we also discussed the use of an ATA Carnet as one of the tools the Department of Commerce should promote with small and medium sized companies as they strive to expand the international markets for US goods.”

Over 100 Business Representatives Lobby Senate on NAFTA

Following previous successful NAFTA Senate Lobby Days, USCIB once again participated last week, joining more than 100 representatives from the agriculture and business community to talk about private sector concerns and perspectives regarding the ongoing negotiations to modernize NAFTA. The Senate Lobby Day, as in the past, was coordinated as a larger Coalition effort by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

“The purpose of this day was to increase support in light of the high-level talks among the NAFTA countries currently taking place in DC,” noted Eva Hampl, USCIB director for investment, trade and financial services. “There is concern in the business community about the Administration’s alleged push to conclude an agreement on an accelerated timeline.”

Hampl led one of the groups that went up to the Hill last week, where she met with several Republican and Democratic Senate offices throughout the day.

“While the various offices are certainly focused on NAFTA, they do not appear to have a definite action plan on what to do in the event of the potential negative scenarios that may take place, such as withdrawal from NAFTA 1.0 or an inadequate NAFTA 2.0.,” said Hampl.  “Also, while the Committee appears to get briefings from the Administration when they request it, the remainder of the Senators are not being briefed in a way that should be expected under TPA, given that the agreement is allegedly near conclusion.”

USCIB Supports US Candidate for Leadership Position at ITU

Eric Loeb (AT&T), chair of USCIB’s ICT Policy Committee and Doreen Bogdan-Martin

USCIB and the U.S. International Telecommunication Union Association (USITUA) jointly organized a special roundtable discussion on April 5 in Washington, DC to hear a brief of Doreen Bogdan-Martin’s candidacy for director of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Telecommunication Development Bureau (BDT).

The Roundtable attracted nearly 40 participants from both trade associations, as well as from the U.S. Government and the Washington, DC diplomatic community.

The U.S. Government will formally deposit Bogdan-Martin’s candidature prior to the ITU Plenipotentiary (PP-18), which will take place in Dubai in October. Senior U.S. Government officials have already indicated that one of Washington’s leading goals at the PP-18 is to secure Bogdan-Martin’s election to this post, highlighting her track record with the ITU, including being the chief architect of the Global Symposium of Regulators, coordinating the UN Broadband Commission, and recently launching ITU’s new gender empowerment initiative, EQUALS.

“Doreen’s candidacy is significant because she is the only female candidate for this position,” said Barbara Wanner who leads USCIB’s work on ICT policy. “Importantly, she brings 20 years of experience at the ITU, include 14 years in the Telecommunication Development Bureau, most recently as the Chief of ITU Strategic Planning and Membership. USCIB members strongly support Doreen’s candidacy, knowing that she will pursue the development agenda in a manner that thoughtfully considers all stakeholders’ views.”

During the course of the roundtable last week, Bogdan-Martin noted that the two most significant obstacles to connecting the remaining 3.9 billion people in the world who are still offline are the still-high costs for services and devices, as well as the lack of relevant content to stimulate demand for access and online services. “I envisage the BDT redoubling its efforts on digital inclusion, which is at the core of the 2030 Agenda,” noted Bodgan-Martin. “Together we will make the ITU-D a thriving, forward-looking community of Members served by a BDT known for quality, relevance, and practical solutions.”

Election of the director of the ITU Telecommunication Development Bureau (BDT) will take place at the ITU Plenipotentiary in Dubai later this year (October 29-November 16, 2018).

Time to De-Escalate U.S.-China Trade Conflict, Says USCIB

President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping at last year’s G20 Summit in Germany (White House photo)

Washington, D.C., April 6, 2018 – The United States Council for International Business (USCIB), which represents America’s top global companies, is urging the U.S. and China to take steps to de-escalate their trade conflict. Responding to statements by President Trump and China’s commerce ministry over the past 24 hours, USCIB said both parties should seek to resolve their differences via established bilateral and multilateral mechanisms.

“China’s unfair trade practices and its mistreatment of U.S. and other foreign companies are serious problems,” said USCIB President and CEO Peter M. Robinson. “But an escalating, tit-for-tat trade war is not the way to solve them, and risks doing serious harm to the American and global economies.”

Robinson said both sides should seek to work constructively, tone down their rhetoric, and step back from threats to impose new trade barriers, which he said could rattle international markets, imperil future growth prospects and damage the global trading system. He urged the U.S. to use the multilateral mechanisms it has helped build over the years to defuse a looming crisis.

“We should be working with our allies, with other major trading nations, and via the World Trade Organization to apply pressure on China in a way that does not boomerang back to hurt U.S. farmers, workers, consumers and companies.”

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, 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

ILO Launches Inquiry Into Rights Violations in Venezuela

For only the 13th time in its history, the International Labor Organization’s (ILO) Governing Body agreed to appoint a Commission of Inquiry for Venezuela to examine allegations of the Venezuelan government’s non-compliance with a number of legally-binding ILO Conventions. Specifically, allegations were made of attacks, harassment, aggression and a campaign to discredit the employers’ organization – FEDECAMARAS – its leaders and affiliates.

“This action is especially notable because it is a rare instance of ILO action supporting an employer organization’s right to freedom of association,” said Ed Potter who serves as the USCIB’s ILO Governing Body member. It is the only other time, again after a decade old fight, that an Employer freedom of association case was approved for a Commission of Inquiry by the GB.

At its 332nd meeting earlier this month, the ILO Governing Body agreed, by consensus, to approve the appointment of a Commission of Inquiry for Venezuela. The allegations against the Government of Venezuela state a lack of consultation with FEDECAMARAS on laws that affect the labor and economic interests of the employers, and the adoption of numerous increases to the minimum wage without consultation with employer and worker representatives. The Governing Body has discussed this complaint six times since it was presented by 33 employer delegates at the International Labor Conference in June 2015.

“In taking the decision to set up the Commission of Inquiry, the Governing Body expressed deep concern about the lack of any progress with respect to its previous decisions and recommendations regarding the complaint,” noted Potter. “In particular, it referred to the failure to establish a tripartite roundtable, bringing together government, employer, worker as well as ILO representatives to resolve all pending issues. The Governing Body also expressed its regret that it had not been able to carry out the high-level mission it had recommended at its November 2017 Session, due to objections raised by the Government about the agenda of the mission.”

The Commission of Inquiry is made up of three independent members and is tasked with carrying out a full investigation of the complaint, ascertaining all the facts of the case, and making recommendations to address the problems raised in the complaint. A Commission of Inquiry is the ILO’s highest-level investigative procedure. It is generally set up when a member State is alleged to have committed persistent and serious violations of ratified International Labor Conventions, which are binding international treaties, and has repeatedly refused to address them.

 

USCIB Mourns Passing of Services Sector Advocate J. Robert Vastine

J. Robert Vastine

USCIB is mourning the passing of a longtime trade and services advocate J. Robert Vastine who passed away on March 30. Vastine is a former president of the Coalition of Services Industries (CSI), which he headed from January 1996 to September 2012. He developed and strengthened CSI’s mission as the most influential U.S. advocate for expanded trade and investment in the vital services sectors, and built global networks of organizations and individuals who share the goal of opening up services markets.

“Bob was a passionate advocate for the services sector and policies that would enable that sector to flourish,” noted USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson. “He thoughtfully explored ways to develop metrics to support the positive narrative about the services sector’s potential. And he established CSI’s Global Services Summit as an annual event that the global services community respected and endeavored to support both financially and substantively.”

Prior to joining CSI, Vastine served as president of the Congressional Economic Leadership Institute, a bi-partisan, non-profit foundation that helps educate Congress on issues affecting U.S. economic competitiveness. Vastine’s extensive Capitol Hill experience includes having served as staff director of the Senate Republican Conference, Republican staff director of the Senate Committee on Government Affairs, legislative director for Senator John H. Chafee of Rhode Island, and legislative assistant for Congressman Thomas B. Curtis of Missouri.

Vastine graduated from Haverford College in Haverford, Pennsylvania and the Johns Hopkins University School for Advanced International Studies in Washington, DC.

Hampl Advocates on SOE Issues at OECD Meetings

USCIB Director for Investment, Trade and Financial Services Eva Hampl was in Paris the week of March 26 participating in various meetings surrounding the work of the OECD Working Party on State Ownership and Privatization Practices. The consultation with the SOE working party took place on March 27. Business at OECD (BIAC) used this platform to present comments on global reporting standards for internationally active SOEs, integrity and anti-corruption in state-owned enterprises, as well as the OECD working party’s program of work for 2019-2020.

“Addressing stakeholder and, particularly, business involvement is crucial,” said Hampl in her remarks. “The importance of the adherence to the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention to ensure government backing, the benefits of privatization, as well as the importance of a horizontal OECD work program cannot be overstated,” she said.

The SOE issue has been addressed in turn by various Committees of the OECD. During the consultation, BIAC learned that such horizontal activity is being pursued by the OECD. On March 28, BIAC participated in a discussion with members of the Working Party on the follow up to the special roundtable on SOEs and Integrity in October, and on the “building blocks” of future OECD Anti-Corruption and Integrity Guidelines for the state as owner of SOEs. Hampl reiterated the point about the importance of stakeholder input, highlighting that business is at the frontlines of these issues and should be regarded as a specifically relevant stakeholder. Following the discussion, Hampl attended a joint session with the Integrity Forum entitled Towards Anti-Corruption and Integrity Guidelines for State-Owned Enterprises.

Hampl Moderates Panel on Trade and Corruption in Paris

USCIB Director for Investment, Trade and Financial Services Eva Hampl was in Paris the week of March 26, participating in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) Global Anti-Corruption and Integrity Forum, during which she moderated a panel on “Integrity & Trade: No Need to Grease the Wheels,” which focused on the relationship between trade facilitation and opportunities for corruption at the border.

Other speakers included Senior Trade Policy Analyst at the OECD Evdokia Moise, Policy Director of Trade Negotiations at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Norway Benedicte Fleischer, Capacity Building Director at the World Customs Organization (WCO) Ernani Checcucci, and Director, ABAC Governance and External Engagement at GlaxoSmithKline Gonzalo Guzman. Hampl noted the importance of trade running smoothly for USCIB member companies.

“Corruption is a cost to business and companies invest in compliance systems, however there are limitations to what business can effect internally,” said Hampl. “The customs border presents many opportunities for corruption. One vehicle to address these issues, of course, is the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement. USCIB has been very active in promoting the ratification of the agreement with U.S. FTA partners, as well as within the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC). As always, implementation is the key, and robust implementation is required to achieve the full benefits of the agreement.”

Moise presented preliminary work by the OECD that is being conducted in this space, addressing issues like automation and the relationship to corruption. Following the presentation, panelists and audience participated in a debate to address the various issues surrounding the topic, including transparency, the TFA and other global efforts.

“The general consensus after the panel was that while much is already being done, still more must be achieved, particularly when it comes to collaboration between governments, business, and civil society,” noted Hampl.

Robinson: Governments Must Join With Companies to Foster Skilled Migration

USCIB CEO Peter Robinson at the March 26 international dialogue on migration at UN headquarters

Global skills mobility is integral to business and economic growth, with labor migration having contributed an estimated four percent to global economic output in recent years. That was one of the key messages delivered by USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson at a March 26 international dialogue on migration held at UN headquarters in New York.

Robinson represented both USCIB members and the International Organization of Employers, which alongside the World Economic Forum spearheads private-sector input to the inter-governmental Global Forum on Migration and Development via a recognized “Business Mechanism.” He said companies know the value of skills mobility in their workplaces: fully 74 percent of corporate respondents in a recent survey by the Council for Global Migration reported that access to global skills is critical to attaining their business objectives.

By 2020, there is expected to be a worldwide shortfall of 38-40 million skilled workers, Robinson observed, and national migration systems need to adjust to address this need. Benefits of skilled migration accrue to both the countries receiving and sending migrants, he said. Many advanced economies are facing the labor impact of aging populations and falling birth rates, and must look abroad to fill worker shortages at all skill levels. And many countries rely on remittances from their citizens working abroad as well as the skills of returning migrants.

Companies operating at the global level are increasingly sensitive to potential abuses of migrant workers in their supply chains and are taking steps to address these, according to Robinson, who currently co-chairs the B20 Employment and Education Task Force. They are participating in an array of initiatives aimed at fostering fair and ethical recruitment, and are lending their expertise to helping national authorities better process immigrants and match employment opportunities with available workers.

Robinson underlined the commitment of business to this subject area and to the UN’s Global Compact on Migration. He urged governments and other stakeholders to partner with employers at the global and national levels to address the need for expanded skilled migration.

USCIB Urges US and China to Avoid Trade War

Washington, D.C., March 22, 2018 – The United States Council for International Business (USCIB), which represents America’s most successful global companies, responded to the Trump administration’s plans to impose tariffs on billions of dollars of Chinese exports along with restrictions on Chinese investment in the United States. USCIB expressed continued concern over Beijing’s trade abuses while also urging the administration to tread carefully to avoid a trade war.

“We support the goal of getting China to stop its unfair trade practices and treatment of U.S. intellectual property,” said USCIB President and CEO Peter M. Robinson. “We are encouraged to see that the administration is considering a range of tools in addressing these concerns, including WTO dispute settlement. However, we remain concerned that potential new U.S. measures and Chinese retaliation will hurt American companies, workers, farmers and consumers.“

President Trump today announced his intention to impose tariffs on some $50 billion of exports from China under Section 301 of the 1974 trade act, in response to intellectual property violations and other trade abuses. Specifically, he instructed the office of the U.S. Trade Representative to publish, within 15 days, a list of proposed Chinese goods that could be subject to tariffs, while the Treasury Department will have 60 days to recommend steps to restrict Chinese investment in the United States.

“It’s been said that nobody wins a trade war,” Robinson added. “That would be especially true of a trade conflict between the world’s two largest economies. Escalation of the current dispute would severely impact our members, who rely on sales in both markets and who maintain complex global supply chains encompassing both countries as well as many others. These overseas sales and supply chains support millions of jobs in the United States.”

Robinson concluded: “We therefore urge the Trump administration to carefully consider the actions it takes pursuant to this Section 301 report, and we encourage both governments to work together to resolve these unfair trade practices before taking steps that will damage both economies.”

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, 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