OECD Works to Build Trust in Business

The OECD held its inaugural Trust in Business Forum in Paris October 1-2. The overarching initiative seeks to promote coordinated action to strengthen trust in the business ecosystem through capacity building solutions, research and knowledge creation, setting standards and guidelines and inspiring policy reform, and promoting partnerships.

Panelists and attendees, including USCIB’s Assistant Policy and Program Manager for CR and Labor Daniella Goncalves, discussed many facets of the trust gap, including why such a gap exists, what can be done to restore trust, the role of measuring and reporting on indicators that drive trust, governing professional services, and the importance of leadership in generating trust. Three concurrent break-out sessions covered the projects that are being piloted.

“The projects focus on moving beyond compliance by embedding a culture of trust within an organization, shaping compliance, best practices for State-owned enterprises (SOEs) and creating a due diligence guide for the energy sector,” reported Goncalves. “Organizers of this new initiative will be releasing a work-plan for the upcoming year soon.”

Following the Forum, the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) held its first ever joint meetings of the Commission on Corporate Responsibility and Anti-Corruption and the Commission on Energy and Environment October 3-4. Representatives from National Committees and enterprises assembled to learn about the ICC’s restructuring before having separate Commission meetings.

ICC has recently released a new work-plan that involves five-knowledge hubs, each with its own set of projects for which members of national committees can volunteer. ICC, in its discussion regarding the Revised Draft Treaty on Business and Human Rights, stated its intention to continue to align and work with both USCIB and the International Organization of Employers (IOE).

USCIB Participates in WTO Public Forum in Geneva

With the World Trade Organization (WTO) Public Forum taking place this week in Switzerland, USCIB Senior Vice President for Policy and Government Affairs Rob Mulligan and Senior Director for Trade, Investment, and Financial Services Eva Hampl, along with several USCIB members, are on the ground in Geneva to engage in various side meetings with WTO officials and staff.

According to Mulligan, the main issues of concern are WTO reform, including the Appellate Body, as well as the E-Commerce negotiations, with a particular focus on the Moratorium on customs duties on electronic transmission which is about to run out the end of the year.

On October 9, USCIB co–hosted a breakfast with the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), several ICC National Committees, including from the UK, Germany, and Switzerland, and the Digital Trade Network. The governments of Benin, Canada and Switzerland also supported the event. Several ambassadors exchanged views with business in the room about various aspects of current WTO activities. The event concluded with remarks by WTO Secretary General Roberto Azevedo, speaking about the importance of international trade and finding solutions.

Robinson Speaks at ILO Conference, ICC-UK

USCIB’s Peter Robinson (far left) speaks at the annual meeting of ICC United Kingdom, chaired by ICC-UK Chairman Sir Michael Rake (center).

USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson took part in high-level panel discussions at the recent International Labor Conference, the ILO’s annual high-level gathering, as well as the annual general meeting of ICC-UK, the International Chamber of Commerce‘s chapter in the United Kingdom. At both events, he discussed new challenges of multilateralism in an era when some observers have called the multilateral model’s viability into question.

At the ILO, Robinson took part in a discussion of multilateral institutions and the future of work, alongside ILO Director General Guy Ryder, WTO Director General Roberto Azevêdo, OECD Chief of Staff Gabriela Ramos and Sharan Burrow, secretary general of the International Trade Union Confederation, among others. He said that, from the perspective of employers, it is clear that businesses do well in stable and prosperous societies where inequality is not as rampant.

“The real question is whether governments, who are the ones to tackle inequality, are able to create the right kind of legal and regulatory frameworks to do so,” Robinson observed. “Global institutions need to continue to help governments by providing appropriate research and statistics and policy prescriptions – the OECD and ILO play important roles in those areas.”

The USCIB president called for an “inclusive multilateralism,” where all stakeholders are present and a climate of trust prevails. “Business wants to be part of the solution,” he said. “But we need to feel like we are listened to, and that we have a seat at the table. Just as we need more inclusive forms of economic growth, so we also need a more inclusive model of multilateralism, one that draws on the best ideas from broadly representative groups in civil society, including business and employers’ organizations.”

At the ICC-UK meeting, Robinson joined a panel on the future of the WTO and the multilateral trading system. He recalled recent USCIB papers on WTO modernization as well as the ongoing e-commerce negotiationsUSCIB’s vision for the WTO, he said, “focuses not only on strengthening existing agreements, but also on addressing subsidies and other market-distorting support provided to state-owned enterprises, the establishment of new rules for current issues such as digital trade and customs processes on electronic transmissions, and ensuring a properly functioning appellate body, among other issues. The U.S. has been a major beneficiary of the WTO’s dispute settlement system, bringing and winning more cases than any other WTO member.”

Robinson was also a guest at ICC-UK’s board meeting (as was Crispin Conroy, ICC’s new Geneva representative), where he provided an overview of USCIB/ICC-USA priorities.

Modest Progress at G20 Osaka Summit Welcomed

USCIB responded with cautious optimism to the modest progress made at this year’s Group of 20 Summit in Osaka, Japan, and at the meeting between President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping, where the two leaders agreed to continue working toward a resolution of their bilateral trade disputes.

“We are relieved that the U.S. and China have stepped back from a broader escalation of their tit-for-tat tariffs,” said USCIB Senior Vice President Rob Mulligan. “We encourage both parties to move swiftly toward resolution of their disputes. The existing tariffs have already had a negative impact on American exports, and could threaten U.S. jobs as well as our broader competitiveness.”

Mulligan also welcomed the G20 leaders’ endorsement of recent OECD blueprints for cooperation on global tax measures as well as on a “human-centric” approach to the deployment of artificial intelligence – both areas where USCIB members have provided active input to international policy deliberations.

In their communiqué, the G20 leaders warned of growing risks to the global economy but stopped short of denouncing protectionism, mainly due to push-back from the United States. “We strive to realize a free, fair, nondiscriminatory, transparent, predictable and stable trade and investment environment, and to keep our markets open,” they stated.

While leaders made only passing mention of efforts to modernize the World Trade Organization, several voiced renewed support for the recently launched plurilateral negotiations on e-commerce taking place under the WTO’s aegis.

President Trump and leaders from China, Japan and the European Union joined the WTO Director General Roberto Azevêdo in welcoming the Osaka Declaration on the Digital Economy, which commits the signatories to promote efforts on international rule-making in this area and urges further progress on e-commerce at the WTO.

“A fragmentation of the digital economy would hurt us all,” said Azevêdo. “It would mean higher costs and higher barriers to entry, affecting developing countries and smaller businesses the most. The 20th century showed that a fractured global trade order was not sustainable – that’s why we created the WTO. The same is true today. You may well be working on a constitution for the economy of the 21st century.

World Chambers Congress Tackles Key Development Issues

The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) concluded its 11th World Chambers Congress on June 14, held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. This year’s Congress included three days of engagement among over 1,000 delegates on key issues affecting chambers and their respective business communities.

The Congress focused on four main initiatives, including a sustainable future for all, skills for the future, financial inclusion and the World Chambers Competition. “This year’s event was a huge step forward in engaging the chambers network more actively and cohesively in ICC’s global work – with great buy-in for our five campaigns and a growing interest in how ICC can help chambers redefine their value proposition in a market that is undergoing significant disruption,” reflected ICC Secretary General John Denton.

Denton also highlighted a new initiative as part of ICC’s campaign to “Make Climate Action Everyone’s Business.” The “Chambers Climate Coalition” provides a platform for chambers to visibly demonstrate their commitment to take action aligned with the Paris Agreement and the latest climate science. It also provides an opportunity to showcase the important role Chambers can play in driving the transition to a cleaner and more resilient planet. More than 450 chambers from six continents have already signed-up for the Coalition – with signatories from countries including China, India, South Africa, Nigeria and the United States.

“We are already rallying other chambers to sign on and will be providing toolkits to signatories to ensure effective local climate engagement in the coming months,” said Denton. The Coalition has received strong support from the United Nations Secretary General’s team and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

USCIB Senior Vice President and CFO Declan Daly attended the meetings on behalf of USCIB.

The next Congress will be held in Dubai in 2021.

USCIB Sponsors Seminar on Mitigating Business Risk With Arbitration

USCIB/ICC USA sponsored a seminar in Albuquerque, New Mexico on June 14 on international arbitration and how that state’s businesses can use arbitration to mitigate the risks of doing business overseas. Some thirty New Mexico business executives, lawyers and law students attended the presentation, which was opened by Roberta Cooper Ramo, former president of both the American Bar Association and the American Law Institute.

Marek Krasula, counsel for the ICC International Court of Arbitration in New York and David Wilson, partner at Sherman & Howard in Denver, provided an overview of ICC arbitration and how to best draft contracts to provide for it. Matthew Draper, a partner at Draper & Draper in New York and Santa Fe, moderated a panel discussion addressing issues of particular relevance to local companies, such as using arbitration to protect IP rights, recovery of attorneys’ fees by prevailing parties, and keeping the costs of arbitration to a minimum.

“The ICC’s new Expedited Procedures, which apply when less than two million dollars is at stake, reduce significantly the time and cost of dispute resolution, and may be a good fit for New Mexico companies,” said Draper.

Vice Dean of the University of New Mexico School of Law Camille Carey noted in her closing remarks that she hoped the law school would expand opportunities for students to learn about international arbitration.

Business for 2030 Platform Honored by International Chamber of Commerce

The Business for 2030 initiative, launched by USCIB in 2015 as a platform to showcase private-sector efforts aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals, was honored by our partners at the International Chamber of Commerce in May.

At a meeting of ICC National Committees in Paris, Business for 2030 took third place in the Americas region in the “NC Initiative of the Year” competition for 2018-2019. USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson accepted on behalf of USCIB and its Business for 2030 team.

“I couldn’t be prouder of our team and of the many, many companies and organizations that have contributed to this essential platform over the past four years,” Robinson said.

Business for 2030 showcases past and ongoing contributions by companies and business organizations to sustainable development, through the lens of the SDGs. It currently features projects in over 150 countries, which can be viewed by specific SDGs, by company and by country.

The site aims to stimulate a more productive partnership between the public and private sectors – at the UN and at national levels – and to demonstrate the need for a proportionate role for business in the negotiations, implementation and follow-up mechanisms of the 2030 Development Agenda at both the UN and at national levels.

Rounding out the winners from the Americas region were ICC Brazil, which won 1st place (and the top worldwide prize overall) for its ITTI Cognitive Trade Advisor program, and ICC Guatemala in 2nd place for its GuateIntegra anti-corruption initiative.

USCIB Statement on WTO e-Commerce Negotiations

USCIB has issued Recommendations on the WTO e-Commerce negotiations, reflecting member priorities and goals for the negotiations, which had their first round in May. The recommendations are being shared with relevant government officials and stakeholders.

At the December 2017 WTO ministerial in Buenos Aires, 71 countries agreed to begin discussing new global rules to facilitate the expansion of the digital economy. Thanks to intensive work by those countries, last January 76 countries (notably including the U.S., EU, and China) announced the launch of formal negotiations.

In addition to this paper, USCIB is actively engaging in the negotiations in Geneva via various efforts, including the Digital Trade Network and the International Chamber of Commerce.

“The vast majority of the world’s economy is at the table,” wrote Nick Ashton-Hart, the Digital Trade Network’s Geneva representative, in the most recent issue of USCIB’s magazine, International Business. “Since it is estimated that the digital economy underpins approximately one-third of global GDP this is a negotiation that will impact industry everywhere.”

USCIB All In Initiative

USCIB All In

About

Faced with the urgent need to make faster and smarter progress towards achieving the ambitions of a range of international agreements including the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the UN Framework on Climate Change and its Paris Agreement, inclusive multilateralism is essential. In this context, USCIB has developed a 2 year initiative: “Campaign All In.”

All In has launched a global conversation on how to strengthen dialogue, partnership and engagement with business to advance implementation of 2015 outcomes via the multilateral system. The Campaign brings together policymakers and global businesses in key UN cities to begin a conversation on opportunities for harnessing the power of all industry sectors to achieve the SDG goals and other sustainability initiatives.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet speaks at the All In Roundtable

Campaign All In was launched during a roundtable event on May 8, 2019 in which USCIB partnered with the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and the International Organization of Employers (IOE) to convene the first All In Roundtable on Inclusive Multilateralism, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Business. Further ‘All In’ roundtables are planned for Bangkok on June 11 and in New York in July. Together, the three roundtables will address six key themes:

  1. Enabling Public-Private Partnerships with the UN for the SDGs (Geneva)
  2. More than the sum of the parts: Leveraging public private cooperation in science and technology for the SDGs (Geneva)
  3. Using Value Chains to mobilize multi-sector engagement and synergy for the SDGs (Bangkok)
  4. Economic Empowerment and inclusion to catalyze SDG impact (Bangkok)
  5. Investing in Infrastructure in all its forms for the SDGs (NYC)
  6. Measuring and Mainstreaming Impact of Private Sector Engagement on SDGs (NYC)

Utilizing the outcomes from the 2019 discussions, All In will develop a 2020 Action Plan for Inclusive Multilateralism.

Events

Geneva Week roundtable

Upcoming:

  • New York UN General Assembly Conference
    • When: September 11, 2019
    • Where: Millennium Hilton New York One UN Plaza
    • Agenda: Available here
    • Registration: Available here

Past:

ICC Celebrates 100 Years, Sets Out Vision for Next Century

L-R: Peter Robinson (USCIB), Norine Kennedy (USCIB), Thomas Pletscher (ICC Switzerland)

The International Chamber of Commerce, the oldest and largest component of USCIB’s global business network, celebrated its centennial at a gala event in Paris on May 28. USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson and Vice President Norine Kennedy were among the hundreds of attendees.

The world business organization was founded in 1919, out of the ashes of World War One, under a commitment by international business to build bridges through cross-border trade and investment and to serve as “merchants of peace.”

On behalf of its 45 million companies worldwide, ICC issued a declaration setting out a vision to shape the future of global business for the next century.

Mirroring the call by ICC’s founders, the declaration sets out guiding principles for ICC as a purpose-driven international organization, working with renewed purpose to “make business work for everyone, every day, everywhere.”

Listing a number of potential upheavals facing the global community – including climate change, digital transformations and rising inequality – the ICC declaration states: “In the years ahead, these disruptions will become increasingly pronounced in the absence of concerted action by global leaders to mitigate negative outcomes and drive collective solutions.”

Click here to read more and get the full declaration.

Ahead of ICC’s Centennial Summit, ICC launched a new work program to fulfill commitments set out in the Centenary Declaration. Leveraging ICC’s global membership in over 100 countries, ICC will execute the work program through five newly created and versatile knowledge hubs deploying five pivotal campaigns to enable business worldwide to secure peace, prosperity and opportunity for all.

“Faced with pressing global challenges in the 21st century, ICC and the global business community can – and must – do more as a force for good in the world,” said ICC Secretary General John W.H. Denton. “We will respond to this imperative with brave and bold action to meet the ambition of our renewed purpose.”