USCIB Applauds USTR’s Announcement to Include Ed Potter in USMCA Labor Mechanism

Ed Potter addressing the ILO Conference in Geneva in 2015.

New York, NY, July 20, 2020: The U.S. Council for International Business (USCIB), which represents many of America’s leading global companies, applauded the U.S. Trade Representative’s recent announcement of a select panel for the Rapid Response Labor Mechanism, a key tool for the enforcement of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) trade agreement.

“We welcome the inclusion of Ed Potter as one of the select panel members. Potter has worked extensively with USCIB for decades, most recently as former senior counsel for International Labor Affairs and prior to that as a chair of USCIB’s International Labor Affairs Committee (now the Corporate Responsibility and Labor Affairs Committee). Potter is an International Advisory Council Member at the Institute for Human Rights and Business.  For over two decades, he participated on the ILO Committee on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations that holds countries accountable for their obligations resulting from the ratification of ILO conventions.”

Potter is joined by Janice Bellace (Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania), Lance Compa (Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations), Peter Hurtgen (Curley, Hurtgen & Johnsrud LLP), Ira Jaffe (Arbitrator and mediator for labor, employment and benefits disputes) and Kevin Kolben (Rutgers Business School).

The Rapid Response Labor Mechanism, a bilateral annex of the USMCA between the U.S. and Mexico, allows the U.S. to take expedited enforcement actions against individual factories in Mexico that fail to comply with domestic freedom of association and collective bargaining laws.

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 (ICC), the International Organization of Employers, and Business at OECD (known as BIAC), USCIB helps to provide 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.

USTR Must Urge Canada and Mexico to Honor USMCA Commitments

USCIB joined the Alliance for Trade Enforcement (AFTE) to send a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Robert E. Lighthizer to ensure that Canada and Mexico abide by the commitment they have made in the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) and treat U.S. interests fairly.

The letter stated: “We applaud the sentiments that you expressed in your recent congressional testimony about your willingness to seek dispute settlement on issues of importance to U.S. manufacturing, agriculture and service sectors where those countries fall short, including patent, trademark and market access issues impacting innovative industries from both new and longstanding policies and regulations in Mexico and Canada.”

The group noted support for Lighthizer’s attention to the full enforcement of IP commitments made in the USMCA which protects U.S. IP-intensive industries, such as patent linkages and provisions to protect against abuses of the regulatory review exception, as well as broader market access barrier to innovative products, namely the lack of approvals for imported agricultural biotech products. AFTE argued that Mexico’s failure to approve such products threatens both trade with Mexico and U.S. farmers’ access to important technologies; meanwhile, Canada’s Patented Medicine Prices Review Board continues to develop and implement unfair pricing and reimbursement regulatory schemes that don’t account for the cost of research and development of innovative treatments, which ultimately reduces incentives for American scientists and manufactures to research and develop new treatments.

AFTE however applauded the important leap forward made by the USMCA’s digital trade provisions, which include key commitments and significant improvements over prior agreements.

AFTE is a coalition of trade associations and business groups dedicated to ending foreign unfair trade practices that harm American businesses and workers and to ensuring that America’s trading partners are held accountable for the commitments that they have made to treat American goods and services fairly. AFTE members represent companies – both large and small – from across the economy, including the manufacturing, agriculture, and service sectors. AFTE supports actions and policies that encourage U.S. trading partners to open their markets, reduce barriers to trade, and provide effective protection and enforcement of intellectual property (IP) rights.

USCIB Statement to US Government on Remote Worker Relief

USCIB has joined with over a dozen other associations to issue a statement on July 2 to urge the federal government to allow an employee’s wages to be treated as being earned at their normal work location and to have Congress protect health care and other workers travelling across state lines to help with the COVID-19 response. The full statement:

“The dual challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and an economic crisis have created significant disruption and uncertainty for American workers. To lighten the burden on individuals and families, the undersigned associations strongly urge that you support legislation addressing state and local tax confusion arising for employees required to work remotely because of COVID-19.

“Providing this certainty at an otherwise uncertain time is essential. Without Congressional action, employees may receive unexpected and unwelcomed tax surprises when they file their 2020 state and local income tax returns next year – and face penalties and interest charges (and even potential double taxation) through no fault of their own. A federal solution is needed because the states are taking different and conflicting positions on how the income of workers displaced by the pandemic should be taxed. Solving this problem will ensure employees who are working remotely during the pandemic are not penalized for doing so.

“Currently, wages earned by an employee generally are subject to tax by the state where they work. However, due to COVID-19, many workers are unable to report to their normal work location and are working in a different state than usual due to local law restrictions, closed schools, family health or other reasons, complicating their state tax reporting obligations.

“The solution to this problem is simple: enact federal legislation that reduces uncertainty by allowing an employee’s wages to be treated as being earned at their normal work location. Congress should also protect health care and other workers traveling across state lines to help with the COVID-19 response from surprise or higher tax bills. The Remote and Mobile Worker Relief Act of 2020, S. 3995, recently introduced by Senators John Thune (R-SD) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH), would accomplish these goals. These solutions will maintain the status quo by putting wage earners and their employers in the same tax position they would have been in, but for the pandemic, while providing important certainty to workers who temporarily relocate to provide critical assistance during this pandemic.

“We urge the inclusion of these changes in the next COVID-19 legislation.”

USCIB Statement on USMCA Entry Into Force

Washington, D.C., July 1, 2020 – The U.S. Council for International Business (USCIB), which represents many of America’s leading global companies, welcomes today’s entry into force of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) trade agreement, preserving and deepening the economic ties in North America and bolstering the global competitiveness of our companies and workers. The implementation of this agreement comes at a critical time of restoring certainty to U.S. industry in the North American market, as the global market is working toward recovery from the impacts of the current crisis.

The three partner countries must continue to work together to ensure effective implementation of this agreement, so that the benefits of the agreement in its updated and modernized provisions including on digital trade and customs can be realized. Over 12 million American jobs depend on trade with Canada and Mexico, and continuing to build on this economic relationship is important for U.S. industry for future economic growth. USCIB looks forward to a seamless transition to the new agreement.

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 (ICC), the International Organization of Employers, and Business at OECD (known as BIAC), USCIB helps to provide 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.

USCIB Statement on Workplace Equality for All

June 30, 2020, New York, New York — As Pride Month 2020 draws to a close, USCIB joins in applauding the landmark decision issued by the U.S. Supreme Court this month affirming that discrimination in the workplace against employees based on their gender identify or sexual orientation is not permissible under U.S. federal law. Discrimination – regardless of the form – has no place in our society or our workplaces. Through our role as the U.S. Employer representative at the International Labor Organization, USCIB has been a recognized champion of fundamental principles and rights at work, including non-discrimination in the workplace regardless of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation or national origin. This month’s decision reaffirms the rights and dignity of LGBT people and brings our nation one step closer towards the promise of equality for all.

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 (ICC), the International Organization of Employers, and Business at OECD (BIAC), USCIB helps to provide 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:
Kira Yevtukhova, USCIB
+1 202.617.3160, kyevtukhova@uscib.org

 

USCIB Statement on OECD’s Inclusive Framework

USCIB has issued the following statement on June 23 with regards to the OECD Inclusive Framework process:

USCIB remains committed to proactive participation in the current OECD Inclusive Framework process to achieve consensus on acceptable modifications to the international tax system to properly address the tax challenges of the digitalization of the economy.

USCIB and its member companies will continue to work diligently towards a sustainable agreement and will encourage the U.S. government to remain committed to this process.

Robinson Featured in ILO’s “First Person: COVID-19 Stories” Series

USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson

The International Labor Organization (ILO) launched a series of “First person: COVID-19 stories from the world of work,” collecting stories from around the globe and giving a voice to government officials, business owners and essential workers, those working from home and those who have lost their jobs, young people just entering the world of work and retirees-turned-volunteers.

Recently, USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson gave an interview of how the pandemic has affected USCIB, how it is responding, lessons learned from the experience and how we will all be “confronting a new reality” rather than a “return to normal.”

“One major lesson of this pandemic is a reaffirmation that we are all global citizens and we are fighting against an enemy that knows no border, so we must ensure that we join hands across borders and work together in a multilateral way on an economic recovery that is inclusive,” said Robinson.

Robinson also discussed USCIB’s approaches in ensuring the safety of its employees, objectives to support USCIB’s international network (such as that of the International Organization of Employers), and engaging in global work in more vulnerable economies where livelihoods are being upended and where Small and Medium Enterprises deserve special attention.

To view Robinson’s video, click here.

To view the collection of stories compiled by the ILO, please visit here.

Kennedy Speaks on Border Carbon Adjustments, Carbon Pricing

While the UNFCCC postponed its 26th Conference of the Parties to next year, USCIB has remained active in its policy advocacy on international climate change. Most recently, USCIB Vice President for Strategic International Engagement, Environment and Energy Norine Kennedy spoke in a virtual “USA-EU Town Hall on Border Carbon Adjustments.”

The June 17 event was organized by the European Roundtable on Climate Change and Sustainable Transition (ERCST) and the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions at Duke University.

“Border Carbon Adjustment cannot be viewed in isolation; it is connected to carbon pricing, taxation and carbon offsets, that need to be taken into consideration when discussing this topic,” said Kennedy during her remarks.

The town hall discussion focused on the role that Border Carbon Adjustments (BCAs) may play as part of the EU Green Deal proposal and associated stimulus package.  This concept aims to tackle asymmetry in climate ambition under the Paris Agreement, from carbon leakage and competitiveness standpoints.

“We need to develop and design policies that are fit for purpose and work in synergy with multilateral trade in order to successfully overcome climate challenges and fulfil the Paris Agreement goals,” added Kennedy.

USCIB strongly favors multilateral cooperative approaches and policies not only in the climate space, but also via the United Nations and other international organizations.

USCIB, Global Industry Urge WTO to Resume Full Work

As international organizations such as the UN Security Council, International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank are routinely working online, the World Trade Organization (WTO) has yet to fully empower its substantive bodies to meet and take decisions virtually. In light of this, USCIB, along with major industry associations across the world, issued a statement on June 15 urging WTO Members to restart a full, regular schedule of work online. The statement emphasized that the international business community needs the WTO fully engaged across its existing work program, as well as to address the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic aftermath.

The statement noted: “Trade law and policy has an important, indeed integral, role to play in recovery. The replacement of the departing Director-General Roberto Azevêdo makes a return to regular working using virtual tools even more important…We cannot return to where we were, we must move forward, and this will require a whole of society approach at the local, national, and international level.”

The industry groups also reiterated commitment to the WTO and the international rules-based trade architecture for which it is responsible.

For the full statement, click here.

USCIB Concerned Over Reported Administration Changes to US Nonimmigrant Visa Programs

June 17, 2020, New York, New York — The United States Council for International Business (USCIB) expressed concern over reports of potentially restrictive changes to the U.S. nonimmigrant work and exchange visa programs under consideration by the U.S. Administration. The confusion caused by these reports creates uncertainty for U.S. businesses at the worst possible time – when companies are working to join with government and labor to secure a successful economic recovery following the negative health and economic impacts that COVID-19 has had on the U.S. and global economies.

As USCIB has long expressed, labor migration contributes to vibrant economies and requires clear, transparent, stable and efficient government migration policies that support U.S. workers and businesses. We support meaningful dialogue to reform U.S. immigration laws through a consultative regulatory process that includes engagement with the U.S. employer community. We join our members in the belief that drastic restrictions to nonimmigrant work visa programs and added burdens on companies seeking to use these programs will only constrain efforts to revive the U.S. economy to the detriment of workers and employers. Such restrictions also pose potential short- and long-term consequences for U.S. competitiveness by disconnecting domestic businesses from vital sources of talent and innovation and risk the loss of critical jobs and investments to foreign competitors.

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 (ICC), the International Organization of Employers, and Business at OECD (BIAC), USCIB helps to provide 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:
Kira Yevtukhova, USCIB
+1 202.617.3160, kyevtukhova@uscib.org