USCIB Outlines AI Policy Priorities

Digital technologies and the online environment enabled by them present unprecedented opportunity to raise productivity and generate economic growth.
Close cooperation with business can ensure that regulatory approaches create a holistic framework that enables business investment.

In response to a Federal Register request for information concerning the National Artificial Intelligence (AI) Research and Development Strategic Plan, USCIB submitted comments outlining AI policy priorities.

“USCIB members believe that digital technologies and the online environment enabled by them present unprecedented opportunity to raise productivity, foster creativity and innovation, generate economic growth, build trust, and enhance social prosperity,” said USCIB Vice President for ICT Policy Barbara Wanner. “Key to realizing these social and economic benefits, however, are policies that ensure an open, safe, secure, stable, interoperable, seamless, and sustainable Internet.”

The comments submitted by USCIB emphasized that serving as essential complements are policies that encourage both private investment and public-private partnerships in the R&D needed to drive innovation and realize the potential of AI and other emerging technologies. Such policies are most effectively developed when informed by stakeholder engagement.

“Government policymakers can benefit from close cooperation with business, academia and other stakeholders to ensure that the legal, policy, and regulatory approaches implemented create a holistic framework that enables sustainable business investment in infrastructure and product innovation, includes technically feasible solutions, and offers appropriate privacy and human rights protections,” added Wanner. “The participation of a full complement of stakeholders best ensures that decisions concerning R&D and related policies avoid unintended consequences or outcomes that fall short of expectations. Importantly, a multistakeholder approach will help to build trust and dispel fears that could undermine realization of AI’s economic and societal benefits.”

Robinson Contributes Letter to FT on Making Internet Affordable to All

FT featured a letter by USCIB CEO and President Peter Robinson in response to an editorial “The web should be open to all the world’s citizens” on October 11.

In the letter, Robinson emphasizes the important role of public-private partnerships as crucial to broadening access to the internet, noting that companies such as Google, Ericsson, Facebook, Intel and Microsoft are already moving ahead in this regard.

“Focused on driving prices down to meet the UN Broadband Commission target of entry-level broadband services priced at less than 5 percent of monthly income, they are working with governments and other stakeholders in countries as diverse as Nigeria, the Dominican Republic and Myanmar to make the internet more affordable and accessible,” writes Robinson.

The full letter can be found here, subscription to FT required.

USCIB Welcomes Trilateral Update of NAFTA

Washington, D.C., October 1, 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 announcement of a United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), modernizing the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA):

“We welcome the conclusion of a trilateral agreement between the United States, Mexico and Canada on the modernization of NAFTA, which is a longtime priority for our members and American business more broadly.

“The North American market is very important to the success of our members, and keeping the region economically integrated is vital for U.S. companies to remain competitive in the global market.

 “The USMCA contains numerous provisions important to our members, recognizing the many changes in the North American and global economies since the original agreement was signed a quarter-century ago. We look forward to reviewing the details of the agreement to ensure that it addresses our key concerns and priorities in lowering barriers to cross-border trade and investment.”

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 information is available at www.uscib.org.

Contact:
Jonathan Huneke, VP Communications
+1 212.703.5043 or jhuneke@uscib.org

Op-Ed Dispels Myths of Business “Conflict of Interest” at UN

As the annual United Nations General Assembly is underway in New York this week and next, USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson contributed a timely op-ed in The Hill, titled “UN’s private-sector phobia prevents if from hitting its lofty goals.”

“It is increasingly evident that the international community is not on track to deliver the expected results under the Paris Agreement (as well as the broader U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change) or the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals,” writes Robinson. “So why, at a moment when governments and international organizations should be actively seeking ways to encourage business to step up, is the private sector being accused of having a ‘conflict of interest’ or of actively seeking to upend global consensus?”

Robinson points out that accusations of conflict of interest are rampant across UN agencies, including the World Health Organization and in the context of the UN climate talks. He then outlines six “myths” about business influence in international policy-making and dispels them one by one.

To read the full op-ed, please visit The Hill.

 

USCIB Voices Concerns With China’s WTO Commitments

As part of the annual request by the U.S. Trade Representative for comments on China’s compliance with World Trade Organization (WTO) commitments and notice of public hearing, USCIB submitted comments on September 21 reflecting USCIB members’ feedback and concerns. Since China acceded to the WTO in 2001, while progress has been made in some areas, there still remain significant WTO obligation compliance concerns.

USCIB’s submission highlights concerns that arise in selected horizontal areas that transcend industry sectors, including IT security measures, China’s antimonopoly law, intellectual property rights, market access, national treatment and non-discrimination, the regulatory environment, standards, state-owned enterprises, customs and trade facilitation, taxation, labor laws, certification, licensing, and testing barriers. USCIB’s submission also addresses issues related to specific industry sectors that face problems in China, including agricultural biotechnology, audiovisual, chemicals, electronic payment access, express delivery services, recoverable materials, software, and telecommunications.

“On China’s fulfillment of its WTO obligations, USCIB acknowledges the efforts China has made since joining the WTO in 2001 to meet its obligations under the terms of its accession agreement,” said USCIB Senior Director for Investment, Trade and Financial Services Eva Hampl, who leads USCIB’s work on China. “However, there still remain significant WTO obligation compliance concerns. USCIB notes that its member concerns extend beyond those discussed in this paper, including government procurement; until China officially accedes to and implements the WTO Government Procurement Agreement (GPA), government procurement program concerns remain among USCIB members.”

A public hearing to discuss these issues is scheduled to take place on October 3, 2018. Hampl will be testifying and highlighting the most urgent issues to U.S. industry.

USCIB Submits Comments on China 301 Tariffs

Tariffs of 10-25 percent are contemplated
Negative impact could exceed actual harm from Chinese trade abuses

On September 6, USCIB submitted extensive comments on the Trump administration’s proposed $200 billion list of tariffs on imports from China, following up on earlier submissions in response to the quickly escalating trade conflict between the United States and China.

“USCIB and its members continue to be very concerned about the potential unintended consequences these proposed tariffs of 10 or 25 percent on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports are likely to have, affecting many sectors vital to the U.S. economy and jobs,” the USCIB statement said. “Particularly if [the U.S. Trade Representative’s office] imposes 25 percent tariffs on this broad list of products, these tariffs will impact consumers and will severely impact U.S. competitiveness. The negative impact of such tariffs to U.S. consumers and industry appears disproportionate to the intended purpose.”

The statement said that, while China’s forced technology transfer requirements and other abusive practices harm U.S. competitiveness, the administration’s “sweeping tariffs endanger the U.S. economy in similar ways.” USCIB said its members are “very concerned that these proposed tariffs will stifle the U.S. economy, and not achieve the important goal of changing China’s behavior.”

The statement also recommended a number of changes to the list of tariffs being proposed by the administration. USCIB also signed on to a broader industry statement appealing to the Trump administration not to proceed with the proposed tariffs, saying the effort would likely backfire against U.S. businesses and workers.

In August, USCIB Senior Director for Investment, Trade and Financial Services Eva Hampl provided testimony to the 301 Committee chaired by the U.S. Trade Representative’s office, expressing concern about the proposed tariffs’ potential unintended consequences.

USCIB Expresses Dismay at Uncertainty Over NAFTA

Washington, D.C., August 31, 2018 – The United States Council for International Business, which represents America’s most successful global companies, released the following statement regarding today’s announcement on modernization of the North American Free Trade Agreement:

USCIB has consistently stated that any NAFTA modernization must include all three countries. We are therefore disappointed to see the Administration notifying Congress of the conclusion of a trade agreement with Mexico that does not include Canada. As we and others in the business community – as well as other stakeholders and many in the Congress – have expressed on numerous occasions, the value of NAFTA is in its trilateral nature. The indication that Canada is an optional participant is extremely discouraging. We urge the Administration to pursue a final, modernized, comprehensive and high-standard NAFTA that includes Mexico as well as Canada, providing new and updated benefits to American businesses and workers.

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 several leading global business bodies, USCIB provides business views to policy makers and regulatory authorities worldwide, and works to facilitate international trade and investment. More information is available at www.uscib.org.

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

USCIB Statement on Announcement of U.S.-Mexico Trade Deal

Washington, D.C., August 27, 2018 – The United States Council for International Business (USCIB), which represents America’s most successful global companies, released the following statement on the U.S.-Mexico trade deal announced today:

“USCIB is encouraged that the Trump Administration and Mexico have reached an agreement in principle to modernize NAFTA. Updating the 25-year-old agreement has been a priority for the U.S. business community. We look forward to seeing the details of the agreement and if they effectively address our members’ key issues and concerns. In this regard, we are troubled by indications that certain investor protections have been removed or reserved only for specific sectors.

“More broadly, we hope that an agreement on NAFTA signals a redirection of U.S. trade policy – away from confrontation and toward cooperative efforts to open markets abroad. Our members, and the American economy, prosper when we are tearing down barriers to cross-border trade and investment, not erecting new ones.

“We and our members are also very committed to the fundamental structure of NAFTA as a single trilateral agreement. We are looking forward to a completed, comprehensive, trilateral NAFTA modernization that addresses all of our issues and includes Canada.

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 information is available at www.uscib.org.

Contact:
Jonathan Huneke, VP Communications
+1 212.703.5043 or jhuneke@uscib.org

Congress Sends Revised “CFIUS” Foreign Investment Rules to President for Signature

USCIB was very pleased to see both houses of Congress adopt (the House on July 25 and Senate a week later on August 1) as part of the compromise Conference Report on the overall 2019 “John McCain” National Defense Authorization Act (“NDAA”), some fundamental long-gestating revisions to the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. (“CFIUS”) process for U.S. Government review of foreign direct investment (FDI) into the U.S.

Over the last year, Congress, the Administration and key stakeholders, including USCIB and the broad U.S. and international business communities, have been debating a wide range of potential major reforms to CFIUS.  Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) and Representative Robert Pittinger (R-NC) have taken the lead with their Foreign Investment Risk Review Mechanism (“FIRRMA”) bill but a wide range of possible revisions and reforms have been put on the table by various players on the Hill and beyond.

“Some of the proposed ‘reforms’, especially the idea that CFIUS should dramatically expand its remit to cover outward investment, joint ventures, licensing deals, and other innovative partnerships, were very troubling to us at USCIB and many member companies,” noted USCIB Vice President for Investment and Financial Services Shaun Donnelly. “USCIB and others in the business community raised fundamental objections to some of those more expansive proposals.”

In the end, according to Donnelly, the compromise “FIRRMA” provisions hammered out and included in the NDAA package seem a fair balance, strengthening CFIUS’s security overview of sensitive investment proposals, especially those in sensitive emerging technologies which also maintaining America’ commitment to open investment policies.

Donnelly endorsed the compromise FIRRMA provisions, stating, “We at USCIB commend the Congress and the Administration for the serious approach they’ve taken to these important investment security issues. We especially appreciate that the Treasury Department, other agencies, and many players in the Congress have all been open to a real substantive dialogue with business and other stakeholders on fundamental issues on investment security and business practices. We think they got the balance about right in the final compromise package, which is not easy.”

Joint Statement by USCIB and ICC-UK on Enhancing Cross-Border Trade and Investment

London and New York, July 16, 2018 – The United States Council for International Business (USCIB), which serves as the American national committee of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), joined with its British counterpart ICC-United Kingdom in issuing the following joint statement today:

“On behalf of our respective business members, USCIB and ICC-UK pledge to work together to deepen commercial and diplomatic ties between our two countries. We will do so in solidarity with the worldwide business community represented by the International Chamber of Commerce network, and in the context of support for stronger multilateral rules and institutions, from which our societies derive tremendous benefits.

“We call on our two governments to also work together – and with other leading nations and regional blocs – to reduce barriers to trade, de-escalate recent actions to increase tariffs in many areas, and take action through the World Trade Organization and other international institutions to improve the climate for cross-border trade and investment.

“Our economies face critical barriers to entry and commercial challenges in key markets. We must address these together, in a spirit of common purpose, and with the understanding that concerted international action, rather than unilateralism, is the best approach. Failing to do so will harm not just our own national competitiveness, but the world’s ability to tackle key common challenges of promoting security and development.

“We further pledge to work together at the United Nations, World Trade Organization and G20 to improve the global business environment benefitting all companies of all sectors and sizes. We will focus on:

  • Championing inclusive free trade, robust international institutions and multilateral rules.
  • Supporting trade in goods and services through open borders, simplified customs, fair and modern tax and IP systems, and free movement of data.
  • Promoting responsible business conduct and good governance through self-regulation and improvement of best practices.
  • Championing sustainable economic growth through the implementation of the Paris Climate Accord, sustainable finance, smart cities and sustainable supply chains.

“We make this pledge as the International Chamber of Commerce prepares to mark its centenary next year. Founded as the “merchants of peace,” out of the ashes of the First World War, ICC continues to play a critical role in bringing the view of the private sector to the attention of governments at the highest levels, and in forging a path for business to lend its critical support to global goals of peace and sustainable development.”

About ICC-UK:
The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) is the largest world business organization representing 6.5 million companies in 130 countries. ICC provides a voice for business at inter-governmental level and is the only business organization with UN Observer Status. ICC United Kingdom is the representative office of ICC in the UK, supporting British business interests and working in partnership with UK business groups and government. ICC has three central functions: 1) Promote responsible free trade; 2) Provide the rules and standards that govern international business; and 3) Help companies and States settle international disputes. More at www.iccwbo.uk.

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 information is available at www.uscib.org.

Contact:
Jonathan Huneke, VP Communications
+1 212.703.5043 or jhuneke@uscib.org