USCIB Welcomes Signing of US-Mexico-Canada Agreement

Washington, D.C., November 30, 2018 – The United States Council for International Business (USCIB), which represents America’s most successful global companies, issued the following statement on the Trump administration’s signing of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), the update to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA):

“USCIB welcomes the signing of the USMCA, which was successfully concluded last month. The agreement contains several provisions important to our members, recognizing the many changes in the North American and global economies since the original NAFTA was signed a quarter-century ago. Modernized provisions including those on digital trade and customs are key to allowing U.S. companies to continue to thrive in the North American market.

“We commend the parties for recognizing the importance of keeping the region economically integrated, allowing North American companies to remain competitive in the global market.

“Cross-border investment is a key driver for economic growth and development for our members. We are therefore concerned that the USMCA includes provisions that will reduce investment protection in some areas. In addition, we note other changes in areas such as government procurement and de minimis that fall short in providing U.S. business the best framework for growth.

“USCIB members look forward to implementation of the agreement in a manner that addresses our key concerns and priorities in lowering barriers to cross-border trade and investment. We continue to support a seamless transition to the new agreement, allowing the existing supply chains to remain intact.”

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, USCIB provides business views to policy makers and regulatory authorities worldwide, and works to facilitate international trade and investment. More at www.uscib.org.

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

Annual APEC Summit Fails to Reach Consensus

The Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leadership Summit held its annual summit this year in Papua New Guinea (PNG) November 12-18, but for the first time in the Forum’s history, economies attending failed to reach consensus. The area of contention was around the Multilateral Trade System (MTS) section. This was also the first year that USCIB did not send a delegation to the APEC Summit, however USCIB contributed to earlier meetings this year, including the APEC meetings in Chile held September 11-12, which produced new principles in transit.

“This is clearly a disappointing outcome,” said USCIB Vice President for Product Policy and Innovation Mike Michener, who coordinates USCIB’s work on APEC. “APEC’s strength is the ability of member economies to find consensus on topics of mutual benefit, like trade. It is apparent that differing visions of trade policy blocked agreement for the first time in nearly 30 years.”

Following the summit, PNG released Statements to highlight what has been accomplished this year, including a reaffirmation of APEC’s commitment to achieve balanced, inclusive, sustainable, innovative and secure economic growth and prosperity in the APEC region, while pledging to combat protectionism and unfair trade practices. The Statements also emphasized the need to reform the World Trade Organization (WTO) in order to improve and strengthen the body to better address existing and emerging global trade challenges.

Furthermore, the Statement noted continuing support for the Work Program on E-commerce to advance initiatives on e-commerce, investment, small and medium enterprises, and trade and women’s economic empowerment.

For the 2018 APEC year, PNG chose the theme of “Harnessing Inclusive Opportunities, Embracing the Digital Future.” APEC will be led by Chile in 2019 and will focus on the digital economy, regional connectivity, and women’s role in economic growth. Chile previously hosted APEC in 2004.

G20 Highlights 2019 Priority Issues in Leaders Declaration

As Japan prepares to assume the role of host of the G20/B20 in 2019, G20 leaders issued a Declaration on December 1, outlining items needed to build consensus for fair and sustainable development.

According to USCIB Vice President for ICT Policy Barbara Wanner, there is noteworthy focus in the Declaration on the digital economy.Of the 31 points, at least three of the top ten focus on the opportunities and challenges of digital transformation,” noted Wanner. “Points 6-7 focus primarily on potential job displacement and the need for reskilling and vocational training while point 9 draws upon the work of the G20 Digital Task Force. This underscores the importance of bridging the gender digital divide, securing the use of ICTs, and ensuring the free flow of information, ideas, and knowledge ‘while respecting applicable legal frameworks and working to build consumer trust, privacy, data protection, and intellectual property rights protections.’” Point 9 of the Declaration also calls for the establishment of a G20 Repository of Digital Policies to share and promote adoption of innovative digital economy business models.

Beyond the digital economy, G20 leaders pointed out other critical areas of work, such as international trade and investment, which serve as engines of growth, productivity, innovation, job creation and development. However, the group added that the multilateral trading system has fallen short on some objectives and voiced continued support for the necessary reform of the World Trade Organization (WTO) to improve its functioning. The Group also reaffirmed its commitment towards preventing and fighting corruption.

On sustainable development, leaders emphasized commitment to leading the transformation towards sustainable development and support for the United Nations 2030 Development Agenda as the framework for advancing the G20 Action Plan. Regarding the role of energy, the G20 leaders recognize the opportunities for innovation, growth, and job creation, while acknowledging the role of all energy sources and technologies in the energy mix and different national paths to achieve cleaner energy systems.

The G20 focused this year on infrastructure for development, the future of work, and a sustainable food future and a gender mainstreaming strategy across the G20 agenda.

OECD Emphasizes Adverse Impact of US-China Trade Tensions on Economy

The OECD’s semi-annual Economic Outlook, issued on November 21, warns that U.S.-China trade tensions are adversely affecting the global economic outlook and that the majority of the burden will be felt by U.S. consumers.  And if the U.S.-China trade disputes continue to escalate, world trade could reduce significantly by 2021.  In his remarks presenting the latest Economic Outlook, OECD Secretary General Angel Gurria highlighted downward adjustments in OECD’s forecasts for GDP growth rates from their May Outlook: dropping from 3.7% to 3.5% growth globally for 2019, with an additional 3.5% drop in 2020.

For the U.S. specifically, the OECD forecast for 2019 growth drops from 2.9% in May to 2.7% in this report and a further drop to 2.1% in 2020. For Europe’s “Euro Area”, the OECD now estimates 1.6% (down from 1.8% in the May Outlook) and 1.6% growth again in 2020. For China, the OECD is now forecasting 6.32% annual growth in 2019 (down from 6.6% in the May forecast) and 6.3% growth again in 2020.  The slides from the OECD presentation demonstrate in more detail key trends the OECD identifies over the coming years.

Gurria highlighted one major reason for this decline in global growth prospects is a breakdown in international cooperation. The imposition of new tariffs and uncertainty about further restrictive trade actions are contributing to a marked slowdown in trade growth, dampening global investment and threatening jobs and living standards. The international rules-based system that has governed trade since the end of the Second World War has been undermined. Gurria’s perspective is blunt – “Protectionism is not the answer.” While Gurria does not explicitly call out U.S. trade policies, it seems clear that the U.S.-China trades disputes and U.S. more aggressive unilateral trade policy are significant factors helping drive down global economic forecasts.

USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson took note of the OECD’s semi-annual Economic Outlook. “The OECD has earned international respect for its detailed and apolitical economic outlooks,” said Robinson.  “All of us – governments, businesses and citizens – need to take heed to this OECD alarm bell.  Economic growth is the force that drives investment, trade, jobs and better lives for citizens around the world.  It seems clear that one key concerns causing the OECD and other experts to adjust their economic forecasts downward is increased protectionism.  I agree with Secretary General Gurria that protectionism is not a solution; protectionism begets protectionism and downward pressures.  We call upon the U.S. government, as well as other leading trade powers, to reject protectionism and provide global leadership to open trade and investment opportunities around the world.”

The OECD’s press release provides an excellent summary of their key analysis, findings and recommendations.

WATAC Raises Awareness About Carnets Among Indian Exports and Customs

USCIB Senior Vice President and CFO Declan Daly, who oversees USCIB’s ATA Carnet department, attended the meetings.
WATAC discussed and reviewed the operation and administration of the ATA Carnet System in member countries with the aim of spreading awareness about ATA Carnet among Indian exports and Indian customs.

 

Meetings of the World ATA Carnet Council (WATAC), were held in Jaipur, India on November 15-16 at Hotel Jai Mahal Palace and SMS Convention Centre respectively. USCIB Senior Vice President and CFO Declan Daly, who oversees USCIB’s ATA Carnet department, attended the meetings. WATAC discussed and reviewed the operation and administration of the ATA Carnet System in member countries with the aim of spreading awareness about ATA Carnet among Indian exports and Indian customs.

“Being that this was my first WATAC meeting, it was a great opportunity to meet member colleagues from all around the world,” said Daly.

The meeting was jointly organized by WATAC, which is part of the International Chamber of Commerce, and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry under the aegis of the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC), which is part of India’s ministry of finance.

The ATA Carnet is the global gold standard for temporary admissions under the auspices of the World Customs Organization. ATA Carnets are international tools of trade facilitation, which serve as a temporary export-import documentation. The ATA System is in place in 87 countries and territories, and provides duty-free and tax-free imports on goods that will be re-exported within 12 months.

Mixed Messages at Recent Meetings on Global ICT Policy

Barbara Wanner, was present at both events, alongside USCIB members, joining global business colleagues under the aegis of ICC-BASIS at the IGF and as part of the Business at OECD (BIAC) delegation to CDEP.
The two meetings could not have provided more different messages about the challenges and opportunities of digital transformation of the economy and how to address them.

 

The 13th Internet Governance Forum (IGF) and meetings of the OECD Committee on Digital Economy Policy (CDEP) and its Working Parties met in Paris, France the week of November 12. According to Barbara Wanner, who leads USCIB’s work on ICT policy, the two meetings could not have provided more different messages about the challenges and opportunities of digital transformation of the economy and how to address them.

French President Emmanuel Macron, who opened the three-day IGF on November 12 at UNESCO, depicted a digital economy fraught with danger from cyber-attacks, the proliferation of hate speech, and anti-democratic forces requiring development of a “better model” featuring regulation of the Internet and its actors. The OECD CDEP, in contrast, proceeded in a workman-like, measured manner to move its Going Digital Project toward completion as well as advance work on Artificial Intelligence (AI). Going Digital (GD) is an ambitious horizontal endeavor involving 14 OECD committees that takes a largely evidence-based and holistic approach to considering both the economic and societal benefits and the challenges of the evolving digital ecosystem.

Wanner, was present at both events, alongside USCIB members, joining global business colleagues under the aegis of ICC-BASIS at the IGF and as part of the Business at OECD (BIAC) delegation to CDEP.

“Our messages, as IGF workshop speakers and BIAC interveners, generally emphasized the commercial and developmental benefits that can be realized through the creation of a pro-innovation policy environment, the effectiveness of business-informed, risk-based approaches to privacy and security, and the importance of the multistakeholder model in considering the complexity of digital economy issues,” noted Wanner.

According to Wanner, by the week’s close, members agreed that the “watershed” moment at the IGF created by President Macron’s remarks will require further internal discussion about what business wants and needs from the IGF and strategies to tackle likely new challenges at the United Nation’s General Assembly and other multilateral organizations. Concerning CDEP’s leadership of the Going Digital Project, members generally were encouraged that the final product – to be issued at a special forum on March 11-12, 2019 – would reflect business inputs and provide a practical guide to tap the potential of digital transformation.

Unilever CEO Paul Polman to Be Honored by USCIB at Annual Gala

New York, N.Y., November 20, 2018Paul Polman, chief executive officer of Unilever, will be honored by the United States Council for International Business (USCIB), which represents America’s leading global companies, at the organization’s 2018 International Leadership Award Dinner. The gala event will be held on December 11 at the Delegates Dining Room at the United Nations HQ in New York City, under the theme “Business and Society: Creating Shared Value.”

“Under Paul Polman’s leadership, Unilever has worked tirelessly to decouple its growth from its environmental footprint and to increase the company’s positive social impact,” said USCIB President and CEO Peter M. Robinson. “Paul has actively sought to drive transformative change across sectors to implement long-term, sustainable business models. As chair of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), one of USCIB’s key global business partners, he is demonstrating vigorous business leadership on the international stage, both on sustainability and on a host of other issues.”

Polman has served as Unilever’s CEO since 2009. In addition to his chairmanship of ICC, he is a member of the International Business Council of the World Economic Forum, chair of The B Team, vice chair of the UN Global Compact, and a board member of the Consumer Goods Forum. Polman also served until recently as chair of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development.

Established in 1980, USCIB’s International Leadership Award is presented annually to a leading CEO, international figure or institution, recognizing outstanding contributions to global trade, finance and investment, and to improving the global competitive framework in which American business operates. Recent recipients have included Ajay Banga of Mastercard and Randall Stephenson of AT&T. The annual USCIB award dinner attracts hundreds of top business executives, policy makers and members of the diplomatic community.  More information on the event is available at www.uscibgala.com.

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, USCIB provides business views to policy makers and regulatory authorities worldwide, and works to facilitate international trade and investment. More at www.uscib.org.

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

 

Joint Conference Addresses Digital Taxation

The German business association BDI hosted the OECD, Business at OECD, USCIB and other business representatives at a joint conference in Berlin, Germany on November 6 to contribute to the current debate on digital taxation. The OECD is the leading organization in developing a consensus approach to this debate.

Leading global tax experts discussed current business models and value creation, profit allocation and nexus rules, and future challenges of profit taxation. Among them was USCIB Taxation Committee Chair Bill Sample (Microsoft Corporation) who gave a keynote on a panel, “Future Challenges of Profit Taxation.”

Sample spoke about a “borderless world,” with borderless businesses and borderless consumers, which increases the need for governments to work together to reduce the negative impact of hard borders on the digitalized economy.

The event, titled International Taxation in Light of Digitalization, also featured participation by OECD Deputy Secretary General Ludger Shucknecht and Director for the OECD Center for Tax Policy and Administration Pascal Saint-Amans, as well as Head of the International Tax Unit at the German Federal Ministry of Finance Christian Schleithoff.

USCIB Event Concludes With Action Plan to Promote Food Security and Nutrition Partnerships

USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson (center) speaks at the Rome event. USCIB food and agriculture lead Mike Michener (left)
This year’s event concluded with some important outcomes to help deliver results: GAIN and The USCIB Foundation are planning to take the Principles to donors such as developmental agencies, foundations, and companies interested in public-private partnerships.
USCIB will ask its member companies, with existing public-private partnerships to pilot the Principles of Engagement by applying them retroactively to the ongoing PPP.
Michener emphasized the importance of engaging the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

 

With the future of food continuing to be a pressing global challenge and malnutrition profoundly affecting every country, The USCIB Foundation once again teamed up with the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) to organize a public-private partnerships dialogue to tackle malnutrition. The November 8-9 dialogue in Rome, Italy was a second in a series and was built on last year’s event in New York. USCIB CEO and President Peter Robinson participated in the event alongside Vice President for Product Policy and Innovation Mike Michener. Robinson spoke at the opening session and took part in a fireside chat conversation with GAIN Executive Director Lawrence Haddad, who is the winner of the 2018 World Food Prize.

This year’s event featured the theme of “Together for Nutrition: applying principles for public-private engagement.” The high-level dialogue explored practical and tangible ways to implement and scale coordinated initiatives to put the draft Principles, that were agreed upon last year, into practice. The program focused on both under-nutrition and the rise of overweight and obesity, as well as the associated diet related non-communicable diseases. Leaders of governments, development agencies, and the private sector from a wide range of countries, with a particular focus on developing countries with high burdens of malnutrition, participated in the dialogue.

This year’s event concluded with some important outcomes to help deliver results. GAIN and The USCIB Foundation are planning to take the Principles to donors such as developmental agencies, foundations, and companies interested in public-private partnerships. USCIB will also ask its member companies, with existing public-private partnerships to pilot the Principles of Engagement by applying them retroactively to the ongoing PPP. Michener, who leads USCIB’s work on food and healthcare, also emphasized the importance of engaging the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

“We [GAIN and USCIB] will take the Principles to the Rome-based agencies, starting with a briefing for Permanent Representatives early in 2019, followed by the FAO Program Committee and the Executive Boards of WFP and IFAD,” he said. “We also plan to take the Principles to regional meetings, with the first meeting tentatively set for Africa in late 2019.”

Global food and agriculture constitute a US$7.8 trillion industry, employing up to 40 percent of the working population in many countries yet progress towards the ambitious 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is too slow and the scale and complexity of the problem underscores the need for deepened collaboration and renewed commitment to improving nutrition outcomes for all, especially the most vulnerable,” according to Michener.

“Countries cannot achieve their SDG goals without an aligned, motivated and incentivized private sector as a key partner,” said Michener. “In this context, improved dialogue and collaboration between government, business, civil society and international organizations is crucial for guiding engagement and focusing efforts where they can have the most sustainable impact and long-term success.”

USCIB Urges Free Data Flows to Achieve Economic Growth

USCIB filed comments on November 11 in response to a Federal Register notice from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) regarding a proposed approach to consumer data privacy. NTIA’s proposal is designed to provide high levels of protection for individuals, while giving organizations legal clarity and the flexibility to innovate.

USCIB’s comments highlighted the view that the free flow of data and information is critical for economic development and growth, citing a recent study that the increase in GDP from data flows was an estimated $2.8 trillion.

“Business realizes that the benefits of technology innovation enabled by data flows will only be realized and embraced by consumers, businesses, and governments who trust the online environment and feel confident that the privacy of their personal data will be respected,” stated the letter. “USCIB members are committed to complying with applicable privacy regulations and recognize their responsibility to adopt recognized best practices to ensure that personal data and information is appropriately secured as technology and services evolve.”

However countries such as China, India, Malaysia, Panama and South Korea have proposed restrictive data protection laws that could significantly harm U.S. companies while also undermining efforts to enhance global interoperability.

“These countries’ approaches range from quite onerous data localization requirements to national privacy frameworks that are administratively burdensome and complex, all of which end up imposing economic costs on the country by undermining their attractiveness as destinations for jobs-creating investment and innovation,” warned Barbara Wanner, USCIB’s vice president for ICT policy. “They also create an increasingly fragmented regulatory landscape, which imposes added compliance costs on business that hampers continued innovation.”

The comments also highlighted an example of a proposal made by India that would establish an alarming global precedent and could significantly impede the growth of innovation, investment, entrepreneurship, and industrial growth through strict data localization requirements, restrictions on the cross-border data flows, and extraterritorial application.

“It is vital that the U.S. continue to exercise global leadership in pushing back against this type of protective approach to personal data protection,” said Wanner.

NTIA’s initiative runs parallel to the efforts of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to develop a voluntary privacy framework and the efforts of the Commerce Department’s International Trade Administration to increase global regulatory harmony.

To read USCIB’s comments, please visit our website.