USCIB Discusses USMCA Labor Provision With USTR’s Lewis Karesh

USCIB members met for a briefing with Lewis Karesh, who serves as Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Labor, to discuss the status of the latest developments regarding the implementation of the labor provisions of the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). The December 10 briefing with Karesh, who was the lead negotiator of the USMCA labor chapter, provided members a detailed overview of the new provisions in the agreement, including the newest feature, the Rapid Response Mechanism, discussing issues related to implementation and next steps to be expected. The meeting was co-organized by the USCIB Corporate Affairs and Labor Committee, as well as the Trade and Investment Committee, and included introductions from the respective Chairs: Laura Rubbo, Disney and Rick Johnston, Citi.

USMCA entered into force July 1 of this year and is currently being implemented. The Labor Chapter is a new provision, establishing a number of new labor requirements for signatory States. Among the enhancements, USMCA prioritizes labor obligations by including them in the core of the agreement and making them fully enforceable, whereas NAFTA labor obligations were contained in a side agreement on labor.

“We appreciated learning more about the USMCA labor chapter elements and their implementation status. Promulgation and effective enforcement of national labor laws that align with international standards should be the norm everywhere, and that certainly should be the case with U.S. trading partners if we are to achieve our shared goal of advancing worker rights globally,” said Gabriella Rigg Herzog, USCIB vice president for corporate responsibility and labor affairs.

The USMCA implementing legislation established an Interagency Labor Committee for Monitoring and Enforcement, co-chaired by USTR and the Department of Labor, to coordinate U.S. implementation of its labor obligations, monitor Mexico’s labor law reforms and enforce USMCA labor provisions where necessary. “Implementation and enforcement of trade agreements is key to how effective their negotiated provisions will be for companies” commented Eva Hampl, USCIB senior director of investment, trade and financial services. “The North American market covered by USMCA is extremely important to our members and their ability to continue to be able to compete in the global market place. Effective implementation of all provisions, including the Labor Chapter, is a top priority.”

Donnelly Advocates for Investment, Investor-State Dispute Settlement

USCIB Senior Advisor Shaun Donnelly was a panelist in a two half-day virtual Forum on Investor-State Mediation December 8-9 organized by the British Institute of International and Comparative Law (BIICL). The conference brought together international arbitrators, mediators, academics and investment experts. Donnelly’s panel, wrapping up the conference, was focused on “Future of ISDS Mediation: Climate Change, COVID-19 and the Potential Surge of Investor State Disputes.” ISDS (Investor-State Dispute Settlement) is the arbitration enforcement provisions commonly found in international investment agreements. 

Donnelly, the lone business voice on a panel with ISDS skeptics from NGOs and academia, emphasized the importance of private sector investment, including Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), to drive global economic recovery, growth, trade and jobs. 

“Investment agreements with strong investor-state dispute  settlement provisions can be key to incentivizing investment flows,” said Donnelly.  Donnelly also challenged critics to show any recent surge of ISDS cases, noting investors are generally acting responsibly and assisting host governments in dealing with the daunting health and economic crises. He endorsed serious mediation efforts as an additional tool, but not as a substitute for, to support strong investment agreements in resolving disputes. 

“If early, time-limited, voluntary mediation can solve problems, resolve disputes, cut costs, and speed decisions, great!” he added.  “I enjoyed the opportunity to participate in a very interesting, very international conference focused on mediation as potential tool to help resolve investment disputes,” Donnelly said. “It was important for business voices to be there with lawyers, arbitrators and mediators, as well as NGO activist and academics. We had a good exchange. I think effective mediation could be a useful tool in some cases but it has to be voluntary for the parties and should not be seen as an excuse for radical revisions to international investment agreements and established dispute settlement mechanisms.”        

USCIB Member P&G Wins 2020 Corporate Leadership Award

P&G’s Deborah Majoras. Image source: Google

The Coalition for Integrity (“C4I”), a leading Washington-based NGO devoted to fighting bribery and corruption in the U.S. and internationally, awarded its coveted Corporate Leadership Award for 2020 to Procter & Gamble (“P&G”), a long-time USCIB member company.  P&G was honored on December 8 for its good corporate citizenship, leadership in proposing transparency and integrity and its long-established Purposes, Values and Principles (“PVP”) program.  P&G Chief Legal Officer Deborah Majoras accepted the award on behalf of P&G CEO David Taylor.  The Coalition also cited P&G’s extraordinary efforts and philanthropy in 2020 to fight the COVID-19 virus. 

P&G is the seventh USCIB member company to receive the C41 Corporate Leadership Award, joining previous winners Bechtel, The Coca-Cola Company, General Electric, Marriott International, PepsiCo and Raytheon Technologies.

USCIB President & CEO Peter Robinson congratulated P&G. “We’re delighted to see, again this year, one of our leading companies, P&G, recognized for its pathbreaking leadership on corporate responsibility, integrity, anti-corruption and corporate citizenship,” said Robinson. “Like other USCIB companies, P&G has earned an enviable reputation for its corporate leadership here at home in the U.S. and around the world.  P&G sells products in 180 countries around the world and has a direct corporate presence in over 70 of those nations. Our member companies are making the world a much better place and are an example for other companies around the world.”   

The Coalition presented its other major award, the Integrity Award, to Dr. Anthony Fauci, in recognition of his work in combatting the COVID-19 virus and maintaining a high standard of scientific integrity and credibility. The Coalition’s press release on the Awards non-dinner gala ceremony highlights Dr. Fauci’s acceptance speech. USCIB Senior Advisor Shaun Donnelly is a longtime member of the Coalition for Integrity’s Policy Advisory Board.  He and USCIB Senior Director for Trade, Investment and Financial Services Eva Hampl have worked with the Coalition on international anti-bribery issues, including promoting enforcement of the OECD Anti-bribery Convention. 

USCIB Leads Business Dialogue on Climate Change and Trade, Investment and Recovery

The Major Economies Business Forum (BizMEF) held its annual Business Dialogue on December 7, en route to next year’s Glasgow Climate Summit; this year’s BizMEF event was held virtually following the postponement of COP26 in Scotland.  The event, Restoring Momentum, Advancing Synergies – Building Recovery into COP26 with the Private Sector, set the scene for a series of in-depth dialogues in 2021 on trade and climate, climate investment and finance for innovation and national climate pledges that reflect COVID19 impacts and recovery opportunities.

The BizMEF Business Dialogue marked the fifth anniversary of the Paris Agreement and welcomed over seventy participants from government, academia and business.  Opening the session were USCIB CEO and President Peter Robinson and the Chief Strategist for Minority, Policy and Communications of the Climate Select Committee from the U.S. House of Representatives George David Banks.  In his remarks, Banks cautioned against unilateralism and stressed that multilateralism, commercial strategies and leveraging domestic policies will go a long way in realizing the goals of the Paris Agreement.

The dialogue discussed free trade and climate change, including the European Union’s Carbon Border Adjustment mechanism proposal, the impacts and considerations of the COVID-19 pandemic on economic disruption and development of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), as well as climate change finance and investment.

High-level government speakers at the December 7 dialogue included Ignacio Garcia Bercero, from the European Commission Directorate General for Trade, Motoko Ogawa, deputy director of Japan’s Environmental Economy Office and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) and Switzerland’s lead negotiator for climate finance, Gabriella Blatter.

USCIB is a founding member of BizMEF, an alliance of more than twenty leading multisectoral business groups from OECD and non-OECD countries, including BusinessEurope, Brazil (CNI), France (MEDEF), Japan (Keidanren), CGEM (Morocco), the AI Group (Australia) and others. BizMEF Dialogues at Climate Summits have been held every year since 2012 in Doha, Warsaw, Lima, Katowice, Marrakesh, Bonn and, most recently, in Madrid last year.

Brazil’s Accession to OECD: Robinson Provides Input at “Brazil OECD Business Policy Roundtables”

As Brazil continues its reform efforts to accede to the OECD, USCIB partnered with the Brazil-U.S. Business Council of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Brazil’s National Confederation of Industry (CNI) on December 8 to launch a series of Brazil OECD Business Policy Roundtables. The roundtables convene private sector representatives to build sectoral consensus and identify priorities and possible improvements for Brazil.

“The objective of this collaborative effort between the U.S. and Brazilian business communities is to channel private sector input to Brazilian policy makers with the goal of effecting further reforms in line with OECD standards,” said USCIB Senior Director for Trade, Investment and Financial Services Eva Hampl.

USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson spoke at the event this week and commended the reform efforts that have taken place in Brazil so far as critical to ensuring market access and a level playing field for companies operating in both markets. “Brazil is an important trade partner for the U.S. and therefore a very important market to USCIB members,” said Robinson. “Issues like trade, investment, taxation, intellectual property, and the digital economy are top of mind for our companies as they look to the Brazilian market. We look forward to discussions on all of these important issues with stakeholders in the roundtables following today’s launch event.”

As the U.S. representative to Business at OECD (known as “BIAC”), USCIB has been actively monitoring potential future accessions. Brazil formally requested OECD membership in May of 2017. According to Hampl, since the formal request in 2017, Brazil has taken steps to reform several parts of its economy to meet the OECD’s standards for eventual accession. To date, Brazil has not yet been invited to join the OECD.

In October of this year, the U.S. and Brazil updated the 2011 Agreement on Trade and Economic Cooperation. While not a comprehensive trade agreement, the update included important provisions on customs and trade facilitation, good regulatory practices and anti-corruption.

As with the accession of Colombia to the OECD, USCIB led the U.S. business effort at the OECD to share priorities on reforms. “We look forward to facilitating a similar conversation regarding Brazil,” added Robinson. “This collaborative effort with CNI, our network partner through Business at OECD, as well as the Brazil-U.S. Business Council of the U.S. Chamber, is an important step in discussing what is at stake for business in the economic relationship with Brazil.”

Robinson Delivers Business Perspective on Investment at UNCTAD High-Level Conference

As the leading business speaker at the opening plenary session of the virtual Global Investment Promotion Conference organized by the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) December 7-8, USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson laid out a clear message on the importance of investment in driving global economic recovery, trade and jobs. 

Robinson shared the virtual dais with UNCTAD Secretary General Mukhisa Kituyi, President of Botswana Mokgweetsi Masisi, Prime Minister of Barbados Mia Mottley, as well as leading business representatives, including the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) Permanent Observer to the United Nations Andrew Wilson.

Robinson’s remarks on trade focused on Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and the critical role of governments’ efforts in promoting FDI; he emphasized the importance of a strong investment climate and rule of law as foreign investors evaluate possible foreign investments. Robinson also endorsed UNCTAD’s efforts to build capacity of developing country governments in investment promotion.  According to Robinson, one key element in any investment agreement is access to effective, independent dispute settlement procedures by a potential investor.

“I was honored to be included in the opening panel for UNCTAD’s important virtual conference on investment promotion,” Robinson said. “We appreciate UNCTAD’s work in the critical area of investment policy. UNCTAD has clearly established itself as the global ‘go-to’ source for investment statistics and catalogue of provisions of regional and bilateral investment agreements.  We also greatly support UNCTAD’s efforts to include business perspectives in their conferences, including in panels and debates.  We at USCIB are convinced that FDI flows in all directions are key to getting the global economy back on track. The economy benefits from both inward and outward FDI flows, fostering trade, creating good jobs at home and abroad, as well as bolstering American competitiveness in today’s and tomorrow’s competitive global economy.”

USCIB member and Microsoft’s Vice President for UN Affairs in NY John Frank was a featured speaker on a December 8 panel “Executive Dialogue of Investment Facilitation and Advocacy.”  The Conference program and full list of speakers is available at Global Investment Promotion Conference – World Investment Forum – UNCTAD

USCIB Contributes to Discussion With OECD on China

USCIB participated in a Seminar with the OECD Informal Reflection Group on China as part of the Business at OECD (BIAC) delegation of the China Expert Group on November 27. The BIAC China Expert Group was created for the purpose of contributing expert guidance to China–OECD cooperation in areas that improve the investment climate and overall business environment in China. According to USCIB’s China lead Eva Hampl, who participated in this meeting, the group promotes adherence to OECD instruments and the sharing of knowledge on policy practices, contributing to a more level playing field for all businesses operating both inside and outside of China. It consults annually with the OECD Informal Reflection Group on China, which includes OECD Ambassadors from a wide range of countries. It also works with the OECD’s senior representative in Beijing to help scale–up the OECD presence in China. China is not a member of the OECD but participates in many of its meetings as an observer.

The focus of the discussion was “The OECD and China in the post-COVID scenario. Avoiding decoupling –strengthening resilience.” The business presentation provided an economic assessment, noted the global challenges, and included several so-called reflection topics on technological decoupling, artificial intelligence, state-owned enterprises (SOEs), and supply chain resilience.

Hampl, USCIB Senior Director for Investment, Trade and Financial Services, spoke on the issue of supply chain resilience, highlighting current business challenges globally in the context of the pandemic, as well as specifically related to China.

Hampl encouraged the OECD not to shy away from addressing the difficult issues, highlighting successful OECD workstreams on SOEs and subsidies.

“The relationship with China is complex, multifaceted and can be challenging for business,” stressed Hampl.

The OECD’s December 2020 Economic Outlook released yesterday highlights that China, where the recovery from the pandemic started earlier, is expected to grow strongly at 8% in 2021, accounting for over a third of global growth. Given China’s importance in the global economy, its practices and policies have a significant impact on its trading partners, providing strong incentives to work together to address common challenges and responsibilities.

Foreign Direct Investment More Important Than Ever During Health and Economic Crisis

USCIB Senior Advisor Shaun Donnelly was up early on Thanksgiving morning, participating virtually as a panelist in the annual International Investment Agreements (IIA) Experts conference organized in Geneva by the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). This year’s conference focused on the theme of IIA reform in the time of COVID-19. Donnelly participated in six of the last seven annual conferences organized by UNCTAD on international trade agreements.

In addition to his role as a panelist, Donnelly submitted a short written statement and a three-minute video message. 

“Our main message was simple,” said Donnelly. “In a time of health and economic crisis, private foreign direct investment (FDI) is more important than ever to restoring global economic growth, trade and jobs.” According to Donnelly, investment agreements, including strong dispute settlement provisions can be a critical factor to incentivizing FDI flows. 

Donnelly, a retired U.S. Ambassador and now a consultant to USCIB, also noted, “Unfortunately UNCTAD and many of the government and NGO speakers seem to share a view that FDI rules and IIAs need to be ‘reformed’ to reduce protections for investors and their access to independent arbitration to resolve investment disputes with host governments.  We have a different view; incentivizing and protecting FDI is more important than ever as we all strive for global economic recovery. So it is for business to speak up and get its views on the table in these international investment policy session. I was pleased to be joined this year on my panel by Winand Quaedvlieg from VNO, our Dutch counterpart national association and Chair of the Investment Policy Committee at Business at OECD.”     

UNCTAD’s link to the conference program presentations (including Donnelly’s) and documents.   

USCIB Members Address Network Security During Crises, Environmental Sustainability at IGF

The fifteenth Internet Governance Forum (IGF), which was held in two phases November 2 -November 17, featured expert commentary from USCIB members that addressed two of the key thematic pillars of this year’s event – trust and improving the environment. Chris Boyer (AT&T) moderated a USCIB-organized workshop, in which Kathryn Condello (Lumen) highlighted how business and government closely collaborated from the earliest days of the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure secure, stable and reliable connectivity and, in so doing, create a framework for trust in the online environment.

In another USCIB-organized workshop, Matt Peterson (Amazon) and Caroline Louveaux (Mastercard) described their respective companies’ efforts to leverage technologies and their networks to address the planet’s environmental challenges through such initiatives as Amazon’s “Climate Pledge Fund” and Mastercard’s “Priceless Planet Coalition.”

According to USCIB Vice President for ICT Policy Barbara Wanner, both USCIB workshops attracted thirty-five to fifty virtual attendees from stakeholder groups throughout the world and garnered praise for the relevance and insightfulness of speakers’ comments in view of the still-rampant pandemic and challenges to the global environment.

Under the overarching theme ‘’Internet for human resilience and solidarity,” the annual IGF was hosted virtually by the United Nations given COVID-related travel restrictions. Given its virtual nature, the IGF Secretariat estimated that the event brought together more than five thousand leaders and ‎stakeholders of all sectors and all parts of the world, to discuss the impact of the Internet on ‎our lives within four key thematic tracks: (1) Data; (2) Environment; (3) Inclusion and (4) Trust.‎ As mentioned, USCIB members chose to showcase their corporate expertise under the trust and environment themes in two of the more than 200 IGF workshops.

Carol Doran Klein Retires, USCIB Welcomes Rick Minor as New Tax Lead

Carol Doran Klein
Carol Doran Klein

USCIB is pleased to announce that Richard Minor (who goes by Rick) has joined as its next International Tax Counsel upon Carol Doran Klein’s retirement.

“Carol has contributed immeasurably to the strengthening of the USCIB tax practice and we are grateful for her professional contributions and personal friendship over the last ten years,” said Peter Robinson, USCIB’s president and CEO. He added, “While we are saddened to see Carol go, Rick is a worthy successor and an excellent addition to the USCIB team. He brings a wealth of technical knowledge on international tax matters, experience in OECD tax policy and process, and a robust foreign government and European Commission network. I’m confident his expertise and international perspective will serve USCIB members well.”

Rick Minor
Rick Minor

Minor has deep experience in both the private and public sectors, having held senior tax roles with three large companies in Europe, in addition to serving as a Digital Policy Advisor to the Government of Luxembourg on a broad range of cross-border business issues with particular regard to EU data privacy, VAT and digital tax policy. His corporate background included positions as Vice President, Group Tax Counsel and Government Affairs for AOL Europe; Head of Tax, EMEA for ArcelorMittal; and Director of Tax, EMEA for Honeywell Europe. Minor also served as Director of International Cooperation and Business Investment for the North Carolina Department of Commerce, working to attract U.S. and foreign corporate investment to North Carolina. Minor got his bachelors at Duke University, his law degree at UNC-Chapel Hill and his LL.M. in tax at Georgetown. He began his career as an attorney specializing in international tax planning with global law firms in DC, Munich and London. Doran Klein and Minor served together on the OECD Technical Advisory Group (TAG) for VAT.

Minor assumes management of the USCIB Committee on Taxation, which promotes sound, appropriate and consistent international tax policy in the U.S. and overseas, including minimizing double taxation. The committee is chaired by Bill Sample, tax policy advisor at Microsoft Corporation, and encompasses leading tax professionals from USCIB member companies and organizations. The committee is especially active on OECD matters, in view of USCIB’s role as the American affiliate of Business at OECD (BIAC), and organizes a yearly conference bringing together USCIB members with top tax officials from the OECD and member governments.