USCIB Pushes for Women’s Empowerment at ILO Event


The International Labor Organization (ILO) organized a panel discussion during the UN Commission on the Status of Women on March 16, featuring remarks from Ambassadors of Rwanda and Canada, Valentine Rugwabiza and Louise Blais, respectively. USCIB Senior Counsel Ronnie Goldberg joined the panel titled, “Gender Equality at the Heart of Decent Work for Rural Women.”

Speaking on behalf of Employers in the International Organization of Employers (IOE), Goldberg pointed out that many of the challenges women generally face are amplified for rural women.  “Infrastructure development, girls education, skills, entrepreneurship, rule of law, effective property rights and access to credit are vital elements in any policy to create jobs and improve the lives of working women in rural areas,” stressed Goldberg.

Goldberg also emphasized that “rural” does not necessarily mean “agriculture.”  “A focus on development in such areas as food processing, transport, and tourism has the potential to empower more women into work,” she added.

ICANN Focuses on Compliance of Registration Data and Privacy

Barbara Wanner, fourth from left, at ICANN 61 along with fellow ICANN Business Constituency Executive Committee members.:
Steve DelBianco (NetChoice); Phil Corwin (VeriSign); Claudia Selli (AT&T); Barbara Wanner (USCIB); Jimson Olufuye (AfICTA)

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which is responsible for ensuring the security, stability and resilience of the domain name system (DNS), held its Community Forum in San Juan, Puerto Rico on March 10-15. The Forum attracted over 2,000 participants from business, government, civil society, and the technical community from 150 countries, including USCIB Vice President for ICT Policy Barbara Wanner. Over 300 sessions delved into a range of topics relating to the Internet’s addressing and identifier systems. Last year’s implementation of the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) drove discussions throughout the week-long meeting.

Wanner, who also serves as the business constituent representative to the Commercial Stakeholders Group (CSG), was able to provide greater input to policy discussions at the executive committee level on behalf of USCIB members and facilitated important meetings with senior ICANN officials and key constituencies.

The focus of the Forum was an ICANN interim model aimed at ensuring that ICANN and the industry of more than 1,000 generic top-level domain registries comply with existing ICANN requirements concerning the collection of registration data (known as the WHOIS database) as well as meet the EU’s privacy protection requirements. Business participants also surfaced a proposal to establish an accreditation mechanism to enable third party access to data for law enforcement, consumer protection, brand management and intellectual property protection purposes.

The implications of the GDPR on ICANN’s WHOIS database policies dominated discussions throughout the week-long meetings,” commented Wanner. “The clock is running out on the May 25 implementation of the GDPR, so all stakeholders engaged in discussions with a sense of urgency,” she observed.

On March 8, ICANN proposed the so-called Calzone interim model, an approach that ICANN maintained endeavors to strike a balance between proposals put forward by various community stakeholders.

“Commercial business users raised concerns with the interim model, however, maintaining that it is overly broad in scope and does not sufficiently support legitimate public interests in allowing access to certain data for law enforcement, consumer protection and intellectual property protection,” commented Wanner.  “In order to gain access to this non-public data, business users proactively proposed a mechanism that would enable accredited users to gain access to the data they need to pursue legitimate business and public interests.”

Working through the business constituency and Commercial Stakeholder Group, USCIB will engage with other ICANN stakeholders in coming weeks to refine the accreditation model so it can be utilized when the GDPR formally goes into effect in late May.

BIAC Hosts Gender and Skills Seminar, Launches New Report

Business at OECD (BIAC) hosted a breakfast seminar on gender equality and skills as part of the OECD’s March on Gender Initiative on March 9 in Paris. The seminar was chaired by Ronnie Goldberg, USCIB senior counsel, and marked the official launch of the BIAC report “Preparing All our Minds for Work: Girls, women and learning over a lifetime” (2018), produced by BIAC and USCIB with support from Deloitte and Dell. This is the third in a series of BIAC reports that highlight business efforts towards the global advancement of women and girls in the economy.

The focus of the seminar was on corporate efforts to address unconscious bias impacting gender equality at work and featured a summary of the 2018 BIAC report and a presentation by Dell on their implementation of the MARC (Men Advocating Real Change) initiative. MARC aims to identify where unconscious bias exists and aims to promote a more collaborative and inclusive leadership style. As the first IT company to participate in MARC, Dell discussed their experience and impacts.

“Empowering women in the workplace has positive consequences for the lives and careers of both women and men —as well as for the companies that employ them,” said Goldberg. “There has been progress, but it is painfully slow. Initiatives such as MARC are making an important contribution to the cause of gender equality, which more and more companies are recognizing as a key bottom line issue.”

Gabriella Rigg Herzog who leads USCIB work on corporate responsibility and labor affairs added, “Empowering women to participate meaningfully in the global economy is good for families, communities, business and society. We applaud BIAC and the OECD for their leadership in bringing attention to practical tools and best practice examples to reduce gender discrimination and support women in the world of work.”


Colombians in Washington Lobby on OECD Accession

Last week, USCIB was actively involved in various meetings with the Colombian government, business community and civil society on the issue of Colombia’s accession process to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). USCIB Director for Investment, Trade and Financial Services Eva Hampl, who coordinates U.S. business input on OECD accession issues attended a number of these meetings, along with USCIB Senior Vice President for Policy and Government Affairs Rob Mulligan.

“With only two outstanding OECD Committees left to approve the accession, Colombia has ramped up lobbying efforts to the U.S. business community and government,” said Hampl. The outstanding committees are the Committee for Employment, Labor and Social Affairs (ELSA) and the Trade Committee. These committees are scheduled to deliberate in March and April, respectively.

In anticipation of the upcoming meeting of the Trade Committee, Colombia’s Minister of Trade Maria Lorena Gutierrez met with USCIB to discuss outstanding issues on pharmaceuticals, distilled spirits and truck scrapping, as outlined in the Business at OECD (BIAC) Pre-Accession Recommendations. Also part of the delegation was Colombia’s Minister of Finance and Public Credit Mauricio Cardenas Santamaria, who advocated strongly for Colombia to accede prior to the end of Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos term this summer.

USCIB also had a meeting with ANDI, the National Business Association of Colombia, to discuss outstanding issues for business. Bruce Mac Master, president of ANDI led a delegation of Colombian CEOs in this meeting with the U.S. business community, in an effort to make progress on issues like trucking and pharmaceuticals.

Hampl also addressed these critical issues to U.S. business with Colombian civil society in an interview on Colombian radio last week. The main concerns raised during that conversation were on the timing of the accession process given the expiring term of President Santos, and substantive issues on pharmaceuticals, including patents.

“The U.S. business community remains firm on the outstanding issues,” said Hampl. “The OECD is a group of like-minded countries when it comes to believing in open trade and investment and innovation. It is important for any new members to share those views. The Colombian market is important to U.S. industry and we value the U.S. relationship with Colombia, so we look forward to Colombia making the necessary regulatory changes to allow the accession process move forward.”

USCIB Member Appointed Chair of ICC Environment Commission

Justin Perrettson (Novozymes)

The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) announced the appointment of USCIB member Justin Perrettson of Novozymes as the new chair of the Commission on Environment and Energy. Perrettson is head of global engagements at Novozymes, the world`s leading bio innovation company, where he leads a series of policy and stakeholder interactions that support its sustainability agenda.  He also has broad international policy experience from consulting, finance and not-for-profit sectors and has served as an active member of the Commission on Environment and Energy over the past seven years.

“We are excited that Justin has been appointed chair of the ICC Environment and Energy Commission,” said Norine Kennedy, who leads USCIB’s work on environment, climate and SDGs. “He has taken USCIB’s work in environment, climate and SDGs to another level in international forums, and we know he’ll bring the same amount of energy, commitment and passion about sustainability to enhancing those synergies working with ICC.”

Perrettson has been instrumental in leading the business voice for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), climate change and public-private partnerships, serving as vice chair of USCIB’s Environment Committee and leading USCIB work on sustainable development as member of its SDG Working Group.

Perrettson will be responsible for leading the Commission on Environment and Energy in a renewed strategic direction and will ensure that ICC is leading responsible business engagement that promotes sustainable, inclusive economic growth in line with the UN Climate Change and Sustainable Development Goals.

Perrettson has said that he is “both delighted and honored to take on this new role within ICC and to work with the world’s largest business organization to drive the global sustainable business agenda forward.”

Perrettson will take over from Kersten Karl Barth, who has led the Commission on Environment and Energy’s work for the past five years.

ICC: New Leadership for World Business Organization

International Business HandshakeThe International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) has announced the election of a new secretary general and new first vice chair at its March 12 meeting of the ICC World Council in Tokyo. CEO of the leading Australian law firm Corrs Chambers Westgarth John W.H. Denton has been elected as the next secretary general of ICC.

Denton is a legal expert and adviser on global policy, international trade and investment and infrastructure. Denton, who was unanimously elected, will succeed outgoing ICC Secretary General John Danilovich. Denton previously served on ICC’s Executive Board and, in 2016, became the first Australian to hold the position of first vice chair of the Paris-based organization.

Commenting on his election, Denton added, “I’m deeply honored to have been elected as secretary general of the International Chamber of Commerce. At a time when the dual threat of populism and protectionism still loom large, it’s more vital than ever for business to have a seat at the table in global policy-making. ICC has a unique role to play in ensuring the views and experience of the global private sector are taken into account in key global forums, from the United Nations to the G20. I look forward to working with ICC’s global network in over 100 countries to do just that.”

CEO of Unilever Paul Polman has also been unanimously elected as ICC’s new first vice-chair. Polman will succeed current ICC Chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal on July 1, 2018, who in turn will take the position of honorary chair. Polman is a globally recognized business leader and a pioneer in the field of corporate sustainability having served as a member of the UN Secretary General’s High-Level Panel responsible for formulating the Sustainable Development Goal (SDGs), launched in 2015, and was subsequently appointed as a UN SDG Advocate responsible for promoting the “Global Goals.”

Commenting on these appointments, USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson said, “USCIB has appreciated the opportunity to work with John Danilovich and Sunil Mittal in recent years and thank them for their service to ICC. We now very much look forward to working closely with John Denton and his team. And of course we welcome the addition of renowned business statesman Paul Polman to ICC’s chairmanship, which will surely elevate the world business organization’s stature on sustainable development and many other topics.”

For more information, please visit ICC’s website.

Post-Brexit Trade: An Opportunity to Set New Standards

By Chris Southworth

As the United Kingdom prepares to leave the European Union, the country is at a crossroads. To deliver success means delivering trade deals fast, and the only way to do that is to be more innovative, explains Chris Southworth, the secretary general of ICC UK, USCIB’s partner in the global International Chamber of Commerce network. This was also the topic of a recent ICC UK podcast featuring USCIB’s Rob Mulligan. The views presented here are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect USCIB policy positions.

ICC UK Secretary General Chris Southworth

The UK government has committed itself to renegotiate its entire stock of trade relationships and bring home the largest number of trade deals ever delivered in a short space of time – the task has no precedent.

The first round of post Brexit deals will be with 88 countries and nine trade blocs, covering non-EU countries with EU deals – almost half the world. The scale and pace at which this task must be delivered presents a unique opportunity to be innovative – it’s the only way the government will deliver on its promises of a “free trade model that works for everyone.”

The government has begun the process of passing legislation to set up a new Trade Remedies Authority, share customs data and maintain an open procurement market, but there is currently no proposal for how the government will deliver so many deals in such a short space of time. The government says that the 60-plus countries with EU deals will roll over on the same trade terms, so no extra consultation is required, but that is highly unlikely according to the experts.

In a rare display of unity, business groups, NGOs, unions and consumer groups all agree that to move forward on trade, the UK needs a more transparent, inclusive and democratic framework to handle trade policy if there is any chance of ensuring trade benefits everyone.

The UK has become one of the most centralized G7 countries, with wide disparities across its regions, a stubborn trade deficit and a history of under-performance on productivity and competitiveness. London now dominates the UK economy, with every other region a long way behind. Brexit presents a golden opportunity for trade to play a central role in boosting regional economies as well as address the frustration and disparity that is all too clear to spot, but only if the mode of engagement changes.

If the government wants to deliver new trade deals at the pace and scale required, fresh thinking and reinvented processes are required – those who generate trade will need to be consulted on what works, not only because it is necessary, but because it is democratic. To deliver a trade model that works for everyone means giving stakeholders a say in the decisions.

The Trade Bill

The Trade Bill – currently under review in Parliament – sets out an initial framework for an independent trade policy: a Trade Remedies Authority, an open procurement market, rolling over terms with countries with third party EU agreements sharing customs data. Controversially, the bill also proposes “Henry VIII” powers giving the government the ability to overrule Parliament.

Being a member of the EU means that the UK has no formal structures or procedures for reviewing treaties, and Parliament does not have to debate, vote on or approve deals. Trade agreements are scrutinized via the usual Parliamentary means such as written questions and answers, internal debates and select committee inquiries.

If government negotiators have any chance of delivering trade deals on the scale and pace required, there needs to be a more structured approach that provides organised forums for the international community, business, unions, NGOs and civil society organisations to engage on the issues and make consensus based decisions.

There is a myth that consultation and transparency slows the decision-making process. But without dialogue there is scope for mistrust to grow, which if unchecked, has more than enough weight to derail trade negotiations – as we saw with the lack of public support for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). As hard is may be to hear, public services and food standards trumped trade and that is exactly how people expressed their views.

The TTIP negotiations collapsed, losing five to seven years of negotiation with no sign of an opportunity to restart discussions. It was a colossal waste of resources that could have been easily avoided if the engagement process had been better organised and more inclusive from the start.

The Canada-EU trade agreement (CETA) very nearly went the same way. The issues surrounding Wallonia’s role in Belgium that almost derailed CETA could very well apply in a host of UK regions. Good-quality engagement throughout the decision-making process would prevent such scenarios happening in the future and most importantly give people a stake in making trade a success.

Trade policy now influences all walks of life – it’s not possible to separate trade from public policy and it’s imperative to have the public on board if deals need to be done.

International Models

The US trade model is often cited as an option for the UK but it’s not the only country that has a better system of engagement. New Zealand has successfully integrated private sector groups, civil society and the Maori – its indigenous population – into its model for developing trade positions.

Beyond regular public meetings regarding trade policy, the government established a ministerial advisory group to oversee high-level consultations. The group consists of representatives from key export sectors, NGOs, business and minority groups to reflect the overall priorities of New Zealand’s trade agenda, and to provide feedback to the nation’s minister of trade. In short, it’s a more inclusive system.

The scale of the UK challenge provides an opportunity to set a new international benchmark – no country has it completely right. A deal with 27 EU countries, followed by 60-plus countries with EU agreements, and then the rest of the world is a lot of ground to cover in a short space of time – if the UK government is going to return the benefits of Brexit as promised.

In fact, the success or failure of Brexit will hinge on the government’s ability to deliver trade deals – this is central pillar of the Brexit strategy to offset costs incurred from leaving the EU, especially for SMEs. To do that, it means breaking from the past, opening up and building a model of engagement that is more transparent, consensual and democratic in approach – and doing it fast!

Published March 12, 2018

Controversial Proposals Remain Following Recent NAFTA Round

Eva Hampl, USCIB director for trade and financial services was in Mexico City last week for the 7th Round of negotiations of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The negotiations for this round started on February 25 and concluded with a Ministerial on March 5. U.S. Ambassador Robert E. Lighthizer, Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland, and Mexico’s Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo made statements at a press conference in Mexico on the final day relating to the relative progress of the negotiations, where three new chapters and two sectoral annexes were closed out.

In Mexico, Hampl participated in an event entitled NAFTA Negotiations Status – Current Situation & Impact Analysis hosted by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Mexico (CanCham) and organized by Galicia Abogados, a law firm in Mexico City with expertise in arbitration and ISDS issues. Hampl’s remarks at this event addressed the business perspective and priorities, covering the current status of the negotiations, highlighting the substantive and political difficulties, and outlining what these various developments mean for U.S. business. Hampl was joined by Salvador Behar, director for North America in the Secretariat of Economy, part of Mexico’s negotiating team and Jean-Dominique Ieraci, minister-counsellor for trade for the Embassy of Canada, and part of Canada’s negotiating team. The off-the-record remarks were followed by a discussion with the three speakers, joined by Jennifer Haworth McCandless, partner at Sidley Austin and international arbitration and trade expert. The discussion was moderated by Armando Ortega, president of the CanCham Mexico. Following the event, Galicia hosted a lunch for industry, which provided another opportunity to amplify the message about the importance of NAFTA negotiations, particularly investment protection / ISDS and the general enforceability of the agreement. The casual discussion included many questions on the U.S. political process, and the differences between the U.S. government position and business on several of the proposals.

The remainder of the week in Mexico City consisted of briefings from U.S., Mexico and Canada officials. Based on various briefings business had with negotiators from Mexico and Canada, as well as Congressional staff and others last week in Mexico, there continues to be very little progress in the poison pill or rebalancing proposals the United States has put on the table. There continues to be little progress on the sunset provision and automotive rules of origin, particularly as the U.S. negotiator on rules of origin was called back to Washington before negotiations could commence. On investment protection, Canada and Mexico have begun negotiating among themselves, and have similarly begun to do so on government procurement, which was a new development during this Mexico round.

“While valuable progress continues to be made on modernization chapters such as digital trade and customs, concerns remain that the progress on the controversial proposals is too incremental to bridge the dramatic divide between negotiating positions on a reasonable timeline,” said Hampl. “While Mexican officials emphasized prioritizing a good trade deal over a quick one, there are potential political complications on the horizon with the upcoming elections in Mexico. In addition, U.S. midterm elections are coming up later this year, something Ambassador Lighthizer raised in his press conference following the conclusion of the last round of negotiations.”

It does not appear likely that the negotiations will wrap up during the next round, which will take place in Washington DC, likely the week of April 9.

Additional challenges remain following last week’s announcement on steel and aluminum tariffs by the Trump administration. Trade proponents are hoping that, the more they learn about the possible impact of the new tariffs and likely retaliatory measures, the less voters will like them.  A new study from Trade Partnership Worldwide estimated the proposed tariffs would increase employment by some 33,000 jobs in the steel, aluminum and related industries, but cost some 179,000 jobs throughout the rest of the American economy.

Meanwhile, a new survey of likely voters in four key swing states by Firehouse Strategies and Optimus revealed that most voters underestimate the importance of trade on U.S. employment. Only 13.6 percent said their jobs depend on trade, while 69.3 percent said they do not. Most economists put the percentage at more than 20 percent when both exports and imports are factored in.


USCIB Pushes for Equitable, Stable Tax Systems and SDG Implementation at UN

Over 500 participants attended the First Global Conference of the Platform for Collaboration on Taxation and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on February 14-16 at the United Nations headquarters in New York. The conference was spearheaded by the OECD, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the United Nations’ office for Financing for Development (FfD). Participants included governments from over 110 countries as well as representatives across the UN system, multilateral development banks, business and other non-governmental organizations.

This meeting was the latest action pursuant to the FfD Addis Ababa outcomes calling for international cooperation on domestic resource mobilization, in relation to taxation and Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS).  As such, it aimed to advance global dialogue with relevant stakeholders on how to better design tax policy to achieve the SDGs.

Pascal Saint-Amans of the OECD Tax Policy and Administration Centre was actively involved, reminding the conference in several interventions that the Inclusive Framework on BEPS has been an open and inclusive process, in which dozens of developing country representatives have been involved.

Will Morris, chair of the Business at OECD/OECD Tax Committee stated that the combination of new tax programs, rules and reforms is moving toward enhanced international cooperation and better practice at the local level. He stated that business is rarely the source of obstacles in tax reform; more frequently, disagreements between governments are the source of blockages.

Deputy Assistant Administrator in the Bureau for Economic Growth, Education and Environment at USAID Karl Fickenscher spoke about the importance of public-private partnership involving the private sector and tax authorities relating to development projects and other SDG areas.

The wide-ranging discussions in main sessions and side events focused on three areas: opportunities to improve international cooperation and advance capacity building on taxation, options to enhance international cooperation for domestic resource mobilization relevant to SDG implementation, and tax policy to motivate SDG-facing choices for environment, health, and energy.

The host organizations confirmed that the Platform will issue “Toolkits” in the coming months for “guidance” purposes.  USCIB expects enhanced coordination between the four organizations which have committed to speak with “one voice” when providing taxation advice to developing economies.

Interventions from developing country representatives highlighted continued concerns that they are excluded from global tax policymaking. In this context, USCIB anticipates further proposals to upgrade the UN’s Tax Committee to an intergovernmental body at the next major UN financing forum in April.

“Fighting perceptions of a ‘race to the bottom’ approach by business – the reality is that business seeks equitable and stable tax systems, and level of taxation is one consideration among many,” said Norine Kennedy, USCIB vice president for strategic international engagement, energy and environment, who attended the meetings. “Successful tax reform depends on trust and confidence of citizens, and on transparency.  Collaboration among governments, labor organizations and employers’ groups can advance that trust both in taxation and overall economic policy.”

USCIB will continue to monitor developments on these issues in the OECD, UN FfD process, and in further Platform activities through USCIB’s Tax Committee and SDG Working Group.

Thevenin Serves as Arbitrator at Annual Vis Moot Practice Session

USCIB/ICC USA held it’s 12th Annual Vis Moot Practice Session earlier this month. The practice moots help law school students hone their advocacy skills in preparation for competing in one of the premier events in international arbitration – the Willem V. Vis Moot Competition in Vienna, Austria — which brings together over 300 law schools competing before hundreds of the world’s best international arbitration experts.

The Practice Session was co-organized with the ICC International Court of Arbitration’s North America office, and included eight law schools (Brooklyn, Cardozo, Fordham, Heidelberg University, New York, New York University, Pace University and the University of Bucharest) with over 30 New York-based arbitration professionals serving as mock arbitrators.

This year’s problem involved the sale of bakery goods under the United Nations Convention on the International Sale of Goods and applied the UNICTRAL Rules of Arbitration to the parties’ dispute.

“USCIB/ICC USA is proud to help support this effort to help train tomorrow’s law leaders in international arbitration,” said Nancy M. Thevenin, general counsel of USCIB/ICC USA, who also served as a mock arbitrator at the practice session. “We thank Javier H. Rubinstein of member firm Kirkland & Ellis, LLP, for hosting this event and for serving as a mock arbitrator.  We also thank Seoun “Nikole” Lee, deputy director, Alexandra Akerly, manager, strategy and development; and Mehr Kaur, promotion, officer of the ICC Court in North America for taking on the oars of organizing the practice session this year.”