At B20, Robinson Stresses Need for International Cooperation

Peter Robinson at the B20 in Japan

USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson was in Japan the week of March 11 for the B20 Summit, alongside other business leaders such as John Denton, secretary general and Paul Polman, chair of the International Chamber of CommercePhil O’Reilly, chair and Russell Mills, secretary general of Business at OECD, as well as Erol Kiresepi, chairman of the International Organization of Employers.

Robinson spoke on a panel titled, “Global Economy for All: International Cooperation for Global Governance.” In his remarks, Robinson proposed looking at international cooperation from two perspectives: strengthening global institutions and rules, while also encouraging bottom-up approaches and a general spirit of cooperation, rather than confrontation, in international economic relations.

“For the foreseeable future, we will need to accept that many electorates and governments view the world through a more nationalistic, mercantilist lens,” said Robinson. “We need to demonstrate the value in international cooperation, not just through new binding rules and official structures, but through voluntary, bottom-up initiatives. Efforts such as the Paris Climate Agreement, or the plurilateral agreements being pursued by WTO members on several issues including digital trade, should be welcomed and encouraged.”

Throughout the course of the panel, Robinson also touched upon trade conflicts with China, WTO modernization, and the need to radically reform education, job training and retraining approaches around the world.

Robinson also called out climate change as being a crucial long-term global challenge. “Climate impacts everything – economic growth, jobs, health care, where people live,” stressed Robinson. “We therefore need to view climate and energy policy in a more holistic manner.”

The Japan Times covered the B20 and quoted Robinson in their piece, “At B20 in Tokyo, World Business Leaders Urge Stronger Cooperation on Looming Challenges.” The Japan Times quoted Robinson emphasizing that “The American business community still believes in open trade, globalization and multilateralism.”

Robinson also applauded the B20’s prioritization of adoption and dissemination of artificial intelligence to ensure that AI development deployment remains “human-centric”. This issue will be a big focus of the digital economy conference that USCIB is organizing with Business at OECD (BIAC) and the OECD on March 25 in Washington, DC.

OECD Focus on “National Security” as Factor in Inward Investment Reviews

After its opening all-day Foreign Investment Treaties conference (reported in USCIB’s International Business Weekly report last week) on “level-playing fields” in Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), the OECD committee devoted a full-day of its meeting last week to a wide-ranging discussion of increasing reliance on “national security” factors in reviews of inward FDI flows by many OECD member and other governments.

“Business at OECD” representatives were  active participants in all those discussions, with USCIB Vice President for Investment Policy Shaun Donnelly among the business speakers.  David Fagan, a partner in USCIB member firm Covington and Burling’s Washington office and a leading FDI/investment security lawyer, was a featured expert speaker during the discussion where the U.S. Government’s Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. or “CFIUS” and the recently enacted Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act  (“FIRRMA”) of 2017 were much-discussed.

“David did a great job of explaining recent development in US policy on reviewing FDI,” according to Donnelly. “Our Business at OECD team was able to get across our key messages on the importance of closely delineating national security investment reviews around the world to specific, legitimate security issues and avoiding opening the door to abuse of “national security” provisions for blatantly projectionist discrimination against foreign investors around the world.”

Wanner Shares Perspectives on OECD Going Digital Summit

USCIB and nearly 20 member company representatives, under the aegis of Business at OECD (BIAC), joined 600+ OECD members and stakeholders at the Going Digital Summit, March 11-12 in Paris, which showcased a two-year project to examine digital transformation across all sectors of the economy. This ambitious horizontal endeavor, involving 14 OECD committees, undertook a largely evidence-based and holistic approach to considering both the economic and societal benefits and challenges of the evolving digital ecosystem.

The Summit presented the main findings and policy messages included in the final synthesis report, Going Digital: Shaping Policies, Improving Lives, an accompanying measurement report, Measuring the Digital Transformation: A Roadmap for the Future, and offered a first look at the Going Digital Toolkit web portal. The latter is designed “for policy and diagnosis,” in the words of OECD Secretary General Angel Gurria, to help countries assess their state of digital economic development and formulate appropriate policy responses.

The event was organized to reflect the seven pillars of the OECD’s Going Digital integrated policy framework, i.e., enhancing access, increasing effective use, unleashing innovation, ensuring jobs, promoting social prosperity, strengthening trust, and fostering market openness.

“During the past year, USCIB members and BIAC colleagues played an influential role shaping development and refinement of this integrated policy framework, which highlights the inter-related nature of the policy dimensions and underscores the need for coordination to make digital transformation work for prosperity,” said USCIB Vice President for ICT Policy Barbara Wanner who attended the meetings in Paris.

USCIB to Hold Meeting on APEC Essentials

You have heard about the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation regional forum, also known as APEC, but you are not entirely sure of the format, or how your company or business association would benefit from participation.  Here is a rare opportunity to have all of your APEC questions answered, and to bring you up to speed on recent developments at the most recent Senior Officials’ Meeting under this year’s leadership of Chile.

On March 27, USCIB will join with the National Center for APEC (NCAPEC) and C&M International to host APEC Essentials, a workshop to help participants understand the fundamentals of APEC including its history, objectives and opportunities. Learn from practical case studies led by industry discussants on how several sectors approach priority issues and leverage the APEC platform.

Besides USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson, the program will also feature His Excellency Alfonso Silva Navarro, ambassador of Chile to the United States; Emily Fischer, principal APEC coordinator, economic policy advisor, U.S. Department of State; Jillian DeLuna, director for APEC affairs, Office of the U.S. Trade Representative; Monica Hardy Whaley, president, National Center for APEC; and Ambassador Robert Holleyman, president and chief executive, Crowell & Moring International; Partner, Crowell & Moring; former Deputy U.S. Trade Representative.

Private sector participation in APEC is organized under the leadership of the NCAPEC, which serves as the designated 2019 U.S. Strategic Partner for the CEO Summit, Secretariat to the U.S. members of the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) and as Chair and Secretariat of the U.S. APEC Business Coalition.

USCIB joined with ABAC and APEC Business Coalition partners to advance common objectives during last year’s APEC leadership by Papua New Guinea. Throughout 2018, USCIB addressed a number of issues through APEC to advance discussions across a range of issue. These include chemicals regulation, advertising self-regulation, data privacy, customs, and digital trade. USCIB members and staff have engaged in several APEC working groups, including the Chemical Dialogue, APEC Business-Customs Dialogue, Customs Procedures Virtual Working Group, Alliance for Supply Chain Connectivity, the Electronic Commerce Steering Group and Data Privacy Subgroup.

“USCIB looks forward to the APEC Essentials workshop and we thank Crowell & Moring for hosting this event,” said Vice President of Product Policy and Innovation Mike Michener, who leads USCIB’s work on APEC.  “USCIB appreciates the numerous committed partnerships that APEC has established with the private sector.  These partnerships are addressing many economic opportunities, particularly on trade and regulatory issues, that will help foster greater economic integration among APEC’s twenty-one member economies.”

Donnelly Visits Google During Trade Tour in Switzerland

USCIB Vice President for Investment and Financial Services Shaun Donnelly spent the week of March 4 as the business representative on a Washington Think Tank study tour of Switzerland, focusing on trade issues and possibilities for a potential U.S.-Switzerland Free Trade Agreement (FTA).

While in Zurich, Donnelly and the 12-member study tour visited Google Switzerland’s major operations and R&D center. Google’s Zurich operations are the company’s third-largest R&D operation globally and their largest outside the United States. Google opened its first office in Zurich only fifteen years ago and it has quickly grown into one of the largest and most respected employers in the city.

Coincident with the study tour’s visit, Google invited the leadership of economiesuisse, Switzerland’s largest and most influential business association to a luncheon meeting with the visiting Washington team. Economiesuisse is USCIB’s Swiss counterpart and partner in Business at OECD, the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and other international business fora.

USCIB Speaks at Annual OECD Investment Treaties Conference

Shaun Donnelly (USCIB) speaks at the 2019 OECD Investment Treaties Conference in Paris

OECD’s annual all-day conference in Paris on International Investment Treaties had a distinctly USCIB flavor this year.  The conference, held on March 11, included leading academics, lawyers, civil society and business representatives under the auspices of the Business at OECD (BIAC) team in addition to the government experts delegates in Paris for the OECD Investment Committee meetings.

This year’s conference theme was a “Level Playing Field for Foreign Direct Investment.” USCIB Vice President for Investment Policy Shaun Donnelly led the Business at OECD team, serving as a panelist during the discussion on addressing State-Owned-Enterprises (SOE) Investment Issues and again as the business representative on the final wrap-up panel.  In addition, USCIB member lawyers and leading international arbitrators Jeremy Sharpe of Shearman and Sterling and a former chief of investment arbitration in the State Department Legal Advisor’s Office, as well as David Rivkin of Debevoise and Plimpton, formerly president of the International Bar Association, spoke on different panels.  Deputy Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Investment Policy Lauren Mandell was also a panelist.

“Investment policy issues, investment treaties and especially ‘ISDS’ international arbitration to resolve investment disputes are increasingly under political attack internationally so the conference did spark some interesting debate,” said Donnelly. “USCIB will be on the front lines defending strong investment treaties, including effective dispute settlement disciplines and arbitration provisions.”

IOE Secretary General Shares Global Priorities With USCIB

L-R: Gabriella Rigg Herzog (USCIB), Peter Robinson (USCIB), Ronnie Goldberg (USCIB), Roberto Suarez Santos (IOE)

On March 1, Roberto Suarez Santos, secretary general of the International Organization of Employers (IOE), visited USCIB’s New York headquarters to discuss the group’s global priorities and evolution as it gets ready to mark its centennial next year.

The IOE, based in Geneva, is part of USCIB’s global network and serves as the voice of the private sector on employment, labor and social affairs in the International Labor Organization (ILO), as well as a number of other multilateral bodies.

Suarez Santos met with USCIB staff and members (with help from a video link to our Washington, DC office), led by USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson, who serves on the IOE management board and as an IOE regional vice president for North America. The IOE secretary general outlined the organization’s recent growth, now up to 30 staff members, and its engagement beyond its traditional ILO role, especially in the area of sustainability, business and human rights, and broader responsible business conduct policy and practice.

Suarez Santos also noted the IOE’s longstanding complaints against the government of Venezuela due to its harassment of the Venezuelan employers federation Fedecamaras, which has resulted in the creation of an ILO commission of inquiry – the ILO’s highest level investigative procedure. USCIB and its fellow IOE members remain concerned about the situation for employers in Venezuela and will follow this ILO procedure closely.

USCIB Co-Sponsors China-US Foreign Policy Association Panel

USCIB co-sponsored a recent Foreign Policy Association event titled, “U.S.-China Trade: Taking Stock and Looking Ahead” on February 28. The event, hosted by Citi in New York, featured a panel of experts who discussed the state of trade between the two countries, including the geopolitical and economic implications of the trade war, the 90-day truce, and the negotiations currently taking place.

USCIB member Citigroup’s Global Head of Subsidiaries Marc Merlino moderated the panel. Experts included Bloomberg’s Chief Economist Tom Orlik, Director of CSIS’ Project on Chinese Business and Political Economy Scott Kennedy and Global Head of Research for JP Morgan Joyce Chang.

Technology issues, particularly as they relate to data and Artificial Intelligence (AI), were a common theme of discussion across all panelists. AI is a necessary investment for China due to their demographics and life expectancy. However, while China is focused on AI and data, they lag in the quality of their commercial aircraft and semiconducters, making economic partnerships with the United States a necessity, particularly as China’s debt continues to grow.

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.