CEO of ICC Finland Talks US-Europe With USCIB Washington Team

L-R: Meghan Giblin, Barbara Wanner, Eva Hampl, Timo Vuori, Rob Mulligan, and Shaun Donnelly

ICC Finland’s Executive Director/CEO and Executive Vice President of the Finland Chamber of Commerce Timo Vuori met with USCIB Senior Vice President for Policy and Government Affairs Rob Mulligan and key staff members of USCIB’s Washington office on February 13.  Vuori, a longtime and influential ICC insider and a good friend of USCIB, is also a key board member of the influential “Eurochambres” continental business leadership group.

The wide-ranging discussion with USCIB staff touched on the challenging U.S.-European Union trade agenda including “232” steel and aluminum tariffs, possibly to be expanded to the automotive sector, as well as digital economy, data and tax issues, and the prospects for some sort of U.S.-EU trade negotiations. The underlying political developments on both sides of the Atlantic, including the Brexit developments were also of interest to all. The group discussed the global trade issues including China and WTO reform while touching on challenges in global customs, regulatory and investment policies. The group compared notes on developments inside the global ICC network and possibilities for promoting U.S.-Finnish trade and investment relationships.

“As usual, our USCIB assessments, priorities and concerns often closely aligned with Timo’s,” noted USCIB Vice President Shaun Donnelly.  “We very much value our close relationships with key partners in USCIB’s unique global network. ICC Finland has long been one of our closest and most reliable partners.  It was a great meeting and we very much appreciate Timo making time to meet with us.”

Vuori was in Washington as part of a Finnish business delegation to meet with the Hill, U.S. agencies and U.S. businesses like USCIB. Vuori also attended an Embassy of Finland dinner, along with USCIB Senior Director Eva Hampl. The theme of the February 12th dinner was “Competitiveness in a Globalized World” and provided an opportunity for a discussion on the impact that trade policies, global companies, technological revolution and politics have on competitiveness. The event was organized on the occasion of the Finnish Minister for Foreign Trade Anne-Mari Virolainen‘s visit to Washington DC.

ICC UK’s Chris Southworth Discusses Brexit Burdens in FT Letter

On February 8, the Financial Times published a timely letter from Chris Southworth, the secretary general of the International Chamber of Commerce ‘s UK national committee, on the adverse impact a “hard Brexit” could have on smaller British traders.

According to Southworth, all the excellent work to ensure port operations remain efficient post Brexit should not distract from the fact that the burden, risk and cost of new trading arrangements will be shifted upstream to companies who will have to do all the additional paperwork before their goods reach the port.

“We need the government to be a lot more honest with business. Leaving the single market will mean hard borders and new burdens,” he wrote in the letter.

To read the full letter, visit FT’s website (paid subscription required). Click here to visit ICC UK’s website.

USCIB Foundation and OECD Partner on ICT Conference

The USCIB Foundation, Inc., USCIB’s educational arm, is teaming up once again with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and Business at OECD (BIAC), to host the 1st inaugural event of The Joseph H. Alhadeff Digital Economy Conference Series on March 25, 2019 at the AT&T Forum For Technology, Entertainment & Policy in Washington, D.C.

The digital transformation of the global economy has revealed exciting potential for a more prosperous, productive, inclusive, and socially beneficial world. We need an enabling policy environment for investment and innovation, however, in order to make the most of the potential for digital transformation to improve people’s lives and generate prosperity. At the same time, we must be prepared to address how the fruits of digital innovation can create challenges to privacy, security, and the future of work.

This conference – the fourth such collaboration between USCIB, BIAC, and the OECD – will explore the findings of the OECD’s Going Digital Project, an ambitious two-year examination of how digital transformation affects policymaking across a large spectrum of policy areas. We will draw upon the expertise of the OECD Secretariat on Science, Technology, and Innovation, senior U.S. government officials, and business experts from USCIB and BIAC member companies. In particular, speakers will consider how best to secure the digital economy from ever-more sophisticated cybersecurity threats. In addition, experts will delve into both the promise and challenges of tapping the power of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and other emerging technologies.

Featured Speakers

  • David Redl
    Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information and Administrator of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), U.S. Department of Commerce
  • Robert Strayer
    Deputy Assistant Secretary for Cyber and International Communications and Information Policy, U.S. Department of State
  • Gail Slater
    Special Assistant to the President for Technology, Telecommunications and Cybersecurity Policy, National Economic Council, The White House
  • Andrew Wyckoff
    Director of the OECD Directorate for Science, Technology and Innovation (STI)
  • Russel Mills
    Secretary General, Business at OECD
  • Anne Carblanc
    Head of the OECD Digital Economy Policy Division (CDEP)
  • Julie Brill
    Corporate Vice President and Deputy General Counsel, Microsoft Corporation and Co-Chair, Business at OECD Committee on Digital Economy Policy (CDEP)
  • Laurent Bernat
    OECD Secretariat, OECD Global Forum on Digital Security for Prosperity
  • Molly Lesher
    OECD Secretariat, Going Digital Project

Sponsored by:

The Walt Disney Company
Verizon Communications
Computer & Communications Industry Association

For more information, please visit the event website.

ICC Secretary General Meets With USCIB Members, Staff

John Denton

John Denton, the Australian lawyer and diplomat who last year took the reins as secretary general of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), the world business organization that serves as the linchpin of USCIB’s global network, met with USCIB members and staff during a visit to New York in early February.

Leading representatives of USCIB member companies from a variety of industries, and reflecting a wide spectrum of expertise across USCIB’s various policy committees, gathered in USCIB’s New York and Washington, D.C. offices. Joined by video conference, they provided the ICC secretary general with their views and priorities across multiple practice areas. Denton took advantage of the opportunity to compare notes on a variety of global economic and business challenges, and laid out his efforts to streamline and re-imagine ICC’s vision, structure and services.

Denton was elected to head the secretariat of the Paris-based ICC in March of last year. A legal expert and adviser on global policy, international trade and investment and infrastructure, Denton previously served on ICC’s Executive Board and, in 2016, became the first Australian to hold the position of first vice chair of ICC.


USCIB Participates in Business Coalition Fly-in on China Tariffs  

USCIB Senior Director Eva Hampl participated in the Fly-In organized by Tariffs Hurt the Heartland the nationwide campaign against tariffs, combining the efforts of Farmers for Free Trade and Americans for Free Trade, of which USCIB is a member. Groups of representatives from associations and companies covered over 150 meetings with Senate and House offices from both sides of the aisle over February 6-7.

“There is general concern about the tariff actions, with many members of Congress having signed on to letters either on the section 232 tariffs or on the section 301 exclusion process,” stated Hampl. “However, there is also still a lot of apprehension about publicly pushing back against the President’s actions on tariffs. To those who expressed a desire to wait and see what happens on March 1 – the deadline for reaching a deal with China, to prevent tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports increasing from 10% to 25% — we repeatedly made the point that the time to act is now, as the damage to US industry and consumers increases with every day these tariffs are in place.”

To underline these points, a new study launched showed that in the event that tariffs of 25% go into effect on March 2 on List 3, combined with various other tariffs and retaliation already in place, the net impact on U.S. jobs will be over 900,000 and the annual impact on a family of four over $750. For the complete study, please click here.

There are two pieces of legislation that were introduced in in the Senate the week of February 4, both of which have House companion bills: (1) the Bicameral Congressional Trade Authority Act and (2) the Trade Security Act. Both attempt to push back against the President’s authority on tariff actions.

United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin will travel to Beijing for principal-level meetings on February 14 and 15, and these meetings will be preceded by deputy-level negotiations beginning on Monday, February 11.


Tariffs Hurt the Heartland Group Warns of Impacts on Economy

USCIB Senior Director Eva Hampl will be taking part in a “Tariffs Hurt the Heartland” fly-in on Capitol Hill February 6-7. This fly-in is organized by a broad coalition of business groups that warned about the detrimental impacts of tariffs on Chinese imports on the U.S. economy in a recent press release. Tariffs Hurt the Heartland is the nationwide, non-partisan campaign opposing tariffs that is supported by over 150 trade associations from every industry, including USCIB.

The press release emphasized that new auto tariffs and tariffs on all Chinese imports would lead to 2.2 million job losses, cost the average family over $2,300 and reduce GDP by over 1%. Moreover American workers will lose nearly one million U.S. jobs if tariffs rise to 25 percent on March 1.

The report, which served as the basis for the press release, was prepared by Trade Partnership Worldwide LLC.

In Op-ed, Robinson Stresses Business’s Critical Role in WTO Modernization

With members of the World Trade Organization set to launch new talks on digital trade amid calls for the organization to be reformed, USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson has appealed for a strong business role in efforts to modernize the global trade body.

In an op-ed published in The Hill, USCIB’s president wrote: “The views of the private sector, which has a direct stake in the rules that result from such government-to-government discussions, should be actively solicited and given careful consideration by WTO member states.”

Robinson called on governments to strengthen the WTO in four key areas:

  • tackle subsidies and the role of state-owned enterprises
  • develop new rules for cutting-edge trade issues
  • modernize the WTO’s rules and procedures, and
  • improve the WTO’s dispute settlement mechanisms

“If governments work with business, we are confident that the WTO can be reformed and modernized to continue effectively advancing a rules-based global trading system,” Robinson wrote. Read the full op-ed on The Hill’s website.

USCIB Releases 2019 Trade and Investment Priorities

USCIB has published its 2019 Trade and Investment Agenda. The Agenda is a result of an intensive consultation process with USCIB members to identify key member priorities for 2019. Per member input, many key principles developed for 2018 remain relevant for this year, though the changing trade and investment landscape has also raised new priorities for 2019.

The annual action plan anticipates a potentially busy year on trade and investment including: pressing for congressional approval of USMCA in 2019, seeking Administration action to resolve differences with China, movement on trade negotiations with Japan, EU and the UK, supporting negotiations in the WTO on a digital trade agreement, and modernizing the WTO,” said USCIB Senior Vice President for Policy and Government Affairs Rob Mulligan. “We look forward to a busy and productive year opening international markets and strengthening the global rules-based trade and investment framework.”

The 2019 Agenda will be shared with key U.S. government policymakers.

Arbitration Committee Meetings Plan for Upcoming Year

USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson speaks at the NY Arbitration Committee luncheon

USCIB co-hosted Washington, DC and New York City luncheons of its Arbitration Committee on January 25 and 29, respectively. The meetings brought together local arbitration professionals for an update on new initiatives, as well as a look back on 2018 accomplishments by the ICC International Court of Arbitration©.

Hosted by Washington, DC Subcommittee Chair, Jonathan Greenblatt of Shearman & Sterling, the Washington Luncheon featured a presentation by and discussion with the Secretary General of the ICC Court Alexander Fessas, who provided an update on the ICC’s cases in 2018, use of the expedited and the emergency arbitrator procedural rules and the ICC Court’s goals for 2019. This was followed by an interactive panel discussion with Grant Hanessian of Baker & McKenzie, Claudia Frutos-Peterson of Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle LLP, and Christopher Ryan of Shearman & Sterling, providing practical guidance for handling arbitrations involving states and state-entities and describing key differences when handling investor-state and commercial disputes. The program ended with USCIB General Counsel Nancy Thevenin providing an update on developments in USCIB’s Arbitration Committee.

Hosted by Hanessian, the New York Luncheon several days later featured executive summaries from key members of the ICC International Court of Arbitration, including President Alexis Mourre, Secretary General Alexander Fessas and Counsel for North American Cases Marek Krasula. Mourre provided insight into trends in U.S. cases during the past year and expected developments in the coming year. This was followed by a town hall-style Q&A moderated by Claudia Salomon of Latham & Watkins, who also serves as the vice president of the ICC Court, with questions about the ICC Court’s diversity initiatives, arbitrator appointment process and plans to publish some of its awards.

Business at OECD Committed to OECD Digital Tax Project

Business at OECD welcomed the OECD/G20 policy note on January 31 titled, Addressing the Tax Challenges of the Digitalization of the Economy, which was approved by the Inclusive Framework (IF) on Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS), reaffirming commitment to a multilateral solution to addressing the tax challenges of the digitization of the economy.

According to Business at OECD, this initiative will impact all businesses and is of critical importance to the integrity of the international tax system. The OECD Inclusive Framework can reach international consensus in this area, and Business at OECD is committed to engaging a diverse and effective business network in the consultative process going forward.

“Broad consensus on measures for taxation of the digitizing economy is crucial to ensure innovation, growth, and stem instances of double taxation,” stated Will Morris, chair, Business at OECD Committee on Taxation and Fiscal Policy. “In this context, measures should also enable tax administrations to collect revenue needed for essential and efficient governmental functions.”

“The OECD is the appropriate forum to have a discussion about changes to the international tax system,” emphasized USCIB Vice President for Tax Policy Carol Doran Klein. “Countries should forego unilateral changes while that consensus develops.”

On January 21 Business at OECD released 11 foundational principles for international tax measures in the digital age.