USCIB Delegation Contributes to Extending a Global Pact on Chemicals

Mike Michener (USCIB) and Sophia Danenberg (Boeing)

A global framework for chemicals that was to end in 2020 will be extended and include the sound management of associated industrial waste, government officials from around the world agreed at a summit in Stockholm which ended Thursday, March 15. The meeting, hosted by the Swedish government and attended by representatives of UN member states, NGOs and business and industry, aimed to draw up a global strategy for managing waste and chemicals based on agreed international standards.  Mike Michener, USCIB vice president for product policy and innovation, Sophia Danenberg of Boeing, chair of the USCIB International Product Policy Working Group, and Frank Mastrocco of Pfizer represented U.S. downstream users of chemicals as part of the private sector delegation.

Global cooperation in chemicals is currently governed by the UN-backed global initiative, the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM), but this only extends to 2020.  Sweden wants SAICM to be replaced with a global deal, similar to the Paris Agreement for climate.  The meeting decided that existing principles of SAICM should be retained beyond 2020, including risk reduction and illegal international traffic.

“This was the first meeting, so nothing is decided,” stated Michener. “The countries that participated all agreed they want to work jointly on extending an international agreement on the management of chemicals and waste, and that a global deal approved at the highest levels is necessary. Now the SAICM co-chairs will begin work on a zero draft of a new agreement, to be approved by member states sometime before 2020.”


USCIB Pushes for Women’s Empowerment at ILO Event


The International Labor Organization (ILO) organized a panel discussion during the UN Commission on the Status of Women on March 16, featuring remarks from Ambassadors of Rwanda and Canada, Valentine Rugwabiza and Louise Blais, respectively. USCIB Senior Counsel Ronnie Goldberg joined the panel titled, “Gender Equality at the Heart of Decent Work for Rural Women.”

Speaking on behalf of Employers in the International Organization of Employers (IOE), Goldberg pointed out that many of the challenges women generally face are amplified for rural women.  “Infrastructure development, girls education, skills, entrepreneurship, rule of law, effective property rights and access to credit are vital elements in any policy to create jobs and improve the lives of working women in rural areas,” stressed Goldberg.

Goldberg also emphasized that “rural” does not necessarily mean “agriculture.”  “A focus on development in such areas as food processing, transport, and tourism has the potential to empower more women into work,” she added.

BIAC Hosts Gender and Skills Seminar, Launches New Report

Business at OECD (BIAC) hosted a breakfast seminar on gender equality and skills as part of the OECD’s March on Gender Initiative on March 9 in Paris. The seminar was chaired by Ronnie Goldberg, USCIB senior counsel, and marked the official launch of the BIAC report “Preparing All our Minds for Work: Girls, women and learning over a lifetime” (2018), produced by BIAC and USCIB with support from Deloitte and Dell. This is the third in a series of BIAC reports that highlight business efforts towards the global advancement of women and girls in the economy.

The focus of the seminar was on corporate efforts to address unconscious bias impacting gender equality at work and featured a summary of the 2018 BIAC report and a presentation by Dell on their implementation of the MARC (Men Advocating Real Change) initiative. MARC aims to identify where unconscious bias exists and aims to promote a more collaborative and inclusive leadership style. As the first IT company to participate in MARC, Dell discussed their experience and impacts.

“Empowering women in the workplace has positive consequences for the lives and careers of both women and men —as well as for the companies that employ them,” said Goldberg. “There has been progress, but it is painfully slow. Initiatives such as MARC are making an important contribution to the cause of gender equality, which more and more companies are recognizing as a key bottom line issue.”

Gabriella Rigg Herzog who leads USCIB work on corporate responsibility and labor affairs added, “Empowering women to participate meaningfully in the global economy is good for families, communities, business and society. We applaud BIAC and the OECD for their leadership in bringing attention to practical tools and best practice examples to reduce gender discrimination and support women in the world of work.”


Colombians in Washington Lobby on OECD Accession

Last week, USCIB was actively involved in various meetings with the Colombian government, business community and civil society on the issue of Colombia’s accession process to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). USCIB Director for Investment, Trade and Financial Services Eva Hampl, who coordinates U.S. business input on OECD accession issues attended a number of these meetings, along with USCIB Senior Vice President for Policy and Government Affairs Rob Mulligan.

“With only two outstanding OECD Committees left to approve the accession, Colombia has ramped up lobbying efforts to the U.S. business community and government,” said Hampl. The outstanding committees are the Committee for Employment, Labor and Social Affairs (ELSA) and the Trade Committee. These committees are scheduled to deliberate in March and April, respectively.

In anticipation of the upcoming meeting of the Trade Committee, Colombia’s Minister of Trade Maria Lorena Gutierrez met with USCIB to discuss outstanding issues on pharmaceuticals, distilled spirits and truck scrapping, as outlined in the Business at OECD (BIAC) Pre-Accession Recommendations. Also part of the delegation was Colombia’s Minister of Finance and Public Credit Mauricio Cardenas Santamaria, who advocated strongly for Colombia to accede prior to the end of Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos term this summer.

USCIB also had a meeting with ANDI, the National Business Association of Colombia, to discuss outstanding issues for business. Bruce Mac Master, president of ANDI led a delegation of Colombian CEOs in this meeting with the U.S. business community, in an effort to make progress on issues like trucking and pharmaceuticals.

Hampl also addressed these critical issues to U.S. business with Colombian civil society in an interview on Colombian radio last week. The main concerns raised during that conversation were on the timing of the accession process given the expiring term of President Santos, and substantive issues on pharmaceuticals, including patents.

“The U.S. business community remains firm on the outstanding issues,” said Hampl. “The OECD is a group of like-minded countries when it comes to believing in open trade and investment and innovation. It is important for any new members to share those views. The Colombian market is important to U.S. industry and we value the U.S. relationship with Colombia, so we look forward to Colombia making the necessary regulatory changes to allow the accession process move forward.”

ICC: New Leadership for World Business Organization

International Business HandshakeThe International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) has announced the election of a new secretary general and new first vice chair at its March 12 meeting of the ICC World Council in Tokyo. CEO of the leading Australian law firm Corrs Chambers Westgarth John W.H. Denton has been elected as the next secretary general of ICC.

Denton is a legal expert and adviser on global policy, international trade and investment and infrastructure. Denton, who was unanimously elected, will succeed outgoing ICC Secretary General John Danilovich. Denton previously served on ICC’s Executive Board and, in 2016, became the first Australian to hold the position of first vice chair of the Paris-based organization.

Commenting on his election, Denton added, “I’m deeply honored to have been elected as secretary general of the International Chamber of Commerce. At a time when the dual threat of populism and protectionism still loom large, it’s more vital than ever for business to have a seat at the table in global policy-making. ICC has a unique role to play in ensuring the views and experience of the global private sector are taken into account in key global forums, from the United Nations to the G20. I look forward to working with ICC’s global network in over 100 countries to do just that.”

CEO of Unilever Paul Polman has also been unanimously elected as ICC’s new first vice-chair. Polman will succeed current ICC Chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal on July 1, 2018, who in turn will take the position of honorary chair. Polman is a globally recognized business leader and a pioneer in the field of corporate sustainability having served as a member of the UN Secretary General’s High-Level Panel responsible for formulating the Sustainable Development Goal (SDGs), launched in 2015, and was subsequently appointed as a UN SDG Advocate responsible for promoting the “Global Goals.”

Commenting on these appointments, USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson said, “USCIB has appreciated the opportunity to work with John Danilovich and Sunil Mittal in recent years and thank them for their service to ICC. We now very much look forward to working closely with John Denton and his team. And of course we welcome the addition of renowned business statesman Paul Polman to ICC’s chairmanship, which will surely elevate the world business organization’s stature on sustainable development and many other topics.”

For more information, please visit ICC’s website.

USCIB Pushes for Equitable, Stable Tax Systems and SDG Implementation at UN

Over 500 participants attended the First Global Conference of the Platform for Collaboration on Taxation and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on February 14-16 at the United Nations headquarters in New York. The conference was spearheaded by the OECD, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the United Nations’ office for Financing for Development (FfD). Participants included governments from over 110 countries as well as representatives across the UN system, multilateral development banks, business and other non-governmental organizations.

This meeting was the latest action pursuant to the FfD Addis Ababa outcomes calling for international cooperation on domestic resource mobilization, in relation to taxation and Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS).  As such, it aimed to advance global dialogue with relevant stakeholders on how to better design tax policy to achieve the SDGs.

Pascal Saint-Amans of the OECD Tax Policy and Administration Centre was actively involved, reminding the conference in several interventions that the Inclusive Framework on BEPS has been an open and inclusive process, in which dozens of developing country representatives have been involved.

Will Morris, chair of the Business at OECD/OECD Tax Committee stated that the combination of new tax programs, rules and reforms is moving toward enhanced international cooperation and better practice at the local level. He stated that business is rarely the source of obstacles in tax reform; more frequently, disagreements between governments are the source of blockages.

Deputy Assistant Administrator in the Bureau for Economic Growth, Education and Environment at USAID Karl Fickenscher spoke about the importance of public-private partnership involving the private sector and tax authorities relating to development projects and other SDG areas.

The wide-ranging discussions in main sessions and side events focused on three areas: opportunities to improve international cooperation and advance capacity building on taxation, options to enhance international cooperation for domestic resource mobilization relevant to SDG implementation, and tax policy to motivate SDG-facing choices for environment, health, and energy.

The host organizations confirmed that the Platform will issue “Toolkits” in the coming months for “guidance” purposes.  USCIB expects enhanced coordination between the four organizations which have committed to speak with “one voice” when providing taxation advice to developing economies.

Interventions from developing country representatives highlighted continued concerns that they are excluded from global tax policymaking. In this context, USCIB anticipates further proposals to upgrade the UN’s Tax Committee to an intergovernmental body at the next major UN financing forum in April.

“Fighting perceptions of a ‘race to the bottom’ approach by business – the reality is that business seeks equitable and stable tax systems, and level of taxation is one consideration among many,” said Norine Kennedy, USCIB vice president for strategic international engagement, energy and environment, who attended the meetings. “Successful tax reform depends on trust and confidence of citizens, and on transparency.  Collaboration among governments, labor organizations and employers’ groups can advance that trust both in taxation and overall economic policy.”

USCIB will continue to monitor developments on these issues in the OECD, UN FfD process, and in further Platform activities through USCIB’s Tax Committee and SDG Working Group.

Thevenin Serves as Arbitrator at Annual Vis Moot Practice Session

USCIB/ICC USA held it’s 12th Annual Vis Moot Practice Session earlier this month. The practice moots help law school students hone their advocacy skills in preparation for competing in one of the premier events in international arbitration – the Willem V. Vis Moot Competition in Vienna, Austria — which brings together over 300 law schools competing before hundreds of the world’s best international arbitration experts.

The Practice Session was co-organized with the ICC International Court of Arbitration’s North America office, and included eight law schools (Brooklyn, Cardozo, Fordham, Heidelberg University, New York, New York University, Pace University and the University of Bucharest) with over 30 New York-based arbitration professionals serving as mock arbitrators.

This year’s problem involved the sale of bakery goods under the United Nations Convention on the International Sale of Goods and applied the UNICTRAL Rules of Arbitration to the parties’ dispute.

“USCIB/ICC USA is proud to help support this effort to help train tomorrow’s law leaders in international arbitration,” said Nancy M. Thevenin, general counsel of USCIB/ICC USA, who also served as a mock arbitrator at the practice session. “We thank Javier H. Rubinstein of member firm Kirkland & Ellis, LLP, for hosting this event and for serving as a mock arbitrator.  We also thank Seoun “Nikole” Lee, deputy director, Alexandra Akerly, manager, strategy and development; and Mehr Kaur, promotion, officer of the ICC Court in North America for taking on the oars of organizing the practice session this year.”

ICC Academy Launches Free e-Course on Responsible Marketing and Advertising

The new ICC Academy e-course builds on decades of expertise in establishing high standards for marketers and ad agencies.

The educational arm of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), the ICC Academy, has launched a new e-course based on ICC’s internationally-recognized Marketing and Advertising Code. Entitled “Ethical Marketing and Advertising” (EMA), the e-course is available free of charge, and aims to develop the skills needed to conceptualize, design and deliver responsible marketing communications.

From micro-enterprises to large multinational companies, nearly all businesses use marketing in some form to sell their products or services. However, in a world where good governance and consumer trust are increasingly important, there is a greater expectation from consumers for brands to communicate transparently about their operations and product offering. This interactive e-course serves to encourage ethical marketing solutions as better, more effective forms of advertising.

“We are proud to launch the EMA on the ICC Academy’s digital learning platform,” said Daniel Kok, general manager of the ICC Academy. “We believe that formal training is essential to create high industry standards and practice. Our aim for this e-course is to establish a foundation in marketing for businesses across all markets.”

The EMA builds on decades of expertise and is designed for marketers, advertising agencies, self-regulatory organizations and universities and expands on a program initially developed with the renowned international business school, INSEAD.

“The ICC Code provides globally applicable road signs for marketing practice, which help build confidence in business. This e-course brings the Code guidance to life with the aid of practical industry examples,” said Brent Sanders, assistant general counsel at Microsoft and chair of the ICC Commission on Marketing and Advertising, who also chairs USCIB’s Marketing and Advertising Committee. “We recognize the invaluable contributions of self-regulatory and partner organisations across the globe in developing this interactive course that we believe will reinforce the Code’s effectiveness.”

Comprising six lessons, the two-hour interactive e-course:

  • covers ICC Code basics
  • provides an overview of the importance of responsible advertising
  • explains responsible marketing principles relating to customers, society and competitors, and
  • delivers insights on digital marketing and advertising.

Each section of the course incorporates video examples, structured learning, self-assessments, a virtual coach and valuable case studies to fully understand the principles at the heart of global advertising codes, which are applicable across every industry.

“The ICC Code provides direction for legal and honest marketing communications – qualities that are critical for marketers to build consumer trust and brand loyalty,” said Raelene Martin, policy manager at ICC . “This e-course demonstrates, in practical terms, how the Code’s principles and provisions can be applied in everyday practice when developing marketing campaigns. We are confident that this e-course will be a key resource to help marketers employ today’s and tomorrow’s most innovative techniques to market their products and services.”

Professionals hoping to demonstrate their commitment to the practice of ICC Code on responsible Marketing and Advertising are invited to take the EMA certification exam for a nominal fee.

Click here to learn more about the ICC Academy’s brand-new EMA e-course.

Fighting for American Business: USCIB in the News in 2017

Throughout 2017, USCIB President and CEO Peter M. Robinson, alongside other USCIB leaders and staff, garnered important coverage from the news media on issues critical to USCIB members. Policy issues ranged from NAFTA and the need to enshrine investor protections to the need for reform at the United Nations.

USCIB members and committee leaders, particularly Jerry Cook of Hanesbrands and Tam Nguyen of Bechtel, also made headlines on issues such as customs and trade facilitation and the evolution of corporate sustainability standards, respectively.

“USCIB won important news coverage in a wide variety of areas,” said Jonathan Huneke, USCIB’s vice president for communications and public affairs. “Thanks to outstanding thought leadership from USCIB President Robinson, as well as committee leaders and our staff experts, we were able to consistently punch above our weight, holding our own in a crowded media environment.”

Read the full 2017 media review here. To request an interview with a USCIB expert, contact USCIB Communications.

IGF Discusses Gender, Trade, Digital Security and More

Speakers from L-R: Heshadharani Poornima (India), Barbara Wanner (US Council for International Business), Jennifer Chung (DotAsia), Louise Marie Hurel (Gender Youth/Youth Observatory), Bruna Santos (Gender Youth/Youth Observatory, Brazil)

More than 2,000 stakeholders from business, government, civil society, the technical community, and academia gathered in Geneva, Switzerland December 18-21 for the 12th Internet Governance Forum (IGF). The four-day conference featured wide-ranging discussions under the overarching theme, “Shape Your Digital Future.” USCIB Members joined global business colleagues under the aegis of ICC-BASIS in urging that the IGF continue to serve as a forum for mulitstakeholder discussions about Internet governance issues and as an incubator of ideas and best practices about how to most effectively address opportunities and challenges in the digital ecosystem.

ICT Policy Committee Chair Eric Loeb, senior vice president, international external and regulatory affairs, AT&T, provided the business perspective on Internet governance issues in a special high-level thematic session, “Shaping our Future Digital Global Governance,” which officially opened the IGF. Paying tribute to the late Joseph Alhadeff, former USCIB board member and ICT Policy Committee vice chair, Loeb highlighted how Alhadeff approached Internet governance with collegiality, collaboration and empathy, with an eye to solving immediate problems but not losing sight of where we need to be. “In this spirit, the IGF facilitates working together across respective and varied interests to achieve progress and share issues,” said Loeb told the standing-room-only opening plenary.

USCIB members and USCIB Vice President, ICT Policy Barbara Wanner made important contributions on leading topics of this year’s nearly 200 IGF workshops. Wanner who spoke on the panel, “Navigating Gender and Youth Challenges: Telling Stories about Women, Technology, and Creation,” emphasized the role of both governments and business in ensuring that the digital gender divide is bridged.

“One of the largest barriers to many women and youth in terms of entering the digital system has to do with culture,” said Wanner. “A government cannot simply have on the books policies that ensure equal rights.  They have to follow up and see that the laws are properly implemented and effectively transcend cultural mores that can hold back women of all ages. I have been very inspired by the various initiatives pursued by USCIB members aimed at developing STEM skills and coding by young women to enable their involvement in the digital economy.  Going to the heart of my topic, though, I would say that business also is keenly aware of the importance of enabling generational exchange as a means of bringing more youth and women into the digital ecosystem.”

Additional topics discussed during the IGF included digital trade, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and the “Internet of Things.” Additionally, the OECD’s Going Digital project was featured in a special session, which enabled USCIB members to reiterate points of support and concern offered by Business at OECD (BIAC) at the November meeting of the Committee on Digital Economy Policy.