USCIB Defends Foreign Direct Investment at OECD

USCIB has led private sector participation at a series of recent events organized by the OECD’s Investment Committee.  Kimberley Claman, director of international government affairs in Citi’s Washington office, was a lead speaker for the Business at OECD (BIAC) delegation in a condensed, virtual OECD annual International Investment Agreements Conference on March 29.

During a portion of the conference, titled “The Future of International Investment Agreements” on March 29, Claman laid out a coherent business vision on the importance of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) flows, especially in a post-pandemic world, and of strong investment agreements to help provide the certainty, assurance and enforceability required by investors. “Typical of these OECD sessions, other speakers were skeptical of FDI and, especially of investment treaties, so having a strong business voice is critical,” said USCIB Senior Advisor Shaun Donnelly. “Kimberley did a great job.”

Donnelly returned to the OECD investment policy debates on March 31 as a lead speaker for BIAC in an early-morning, virtual seminar at the fifth session of the OECD’s long-running “FDI Qualities” policy dialogue. OECD staff laid out its latest research and analysis on FDI’s impact to an audience that included a diverse group of academics, NGOs and business representatives. The presentation focused on four areas selected from the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)– gender inclusivity, quality jobs and productivity enhancement, low carbon intensity, and promoting small and medium enterprises (SMEs).  Donnelly was the lead business commentator on the jobs and productivity session and spoke in the gender discussion, bringing a real-world, business perspective to the oftentimes academic nature of OECD seminars.

Donnelly was also back on the agenda as part of the BIAC Investment Committee leadership in the formal “stakeholder dialogue” with government representatives on the OECD Investment Committee at their April 8 wrap-up session following a week of OECD meetings.  This “stakeholder” session gave BIAC an opportunity to underline directly to the OECD committee its business perspectives and priorities on investment policy in a post-pandemic period.

“We see these OECD sessions on FDI policies, especially policies related to international investment agreements as important opportunities to present a business perspective on why FDI is so important to global economic growth, integration, trade and jobs,” said Donnelly, who is a retired U.S. Ambassador and trade negotiator.

Donnelly added: “Frankly, FDI, investment treaties and global economic integration are under unfair political attacks here at home and around the world.  We as business need to tell our story—how international investment flows, both inward and outward, are good for the American economy.  We welcome these opportunities to talk investment issues, not just with like-minded business groups but also with broader mix of participants that we find at OECD, UNCTAD and other UN sessions.  We are particularly grateful to Kimberley Claman from USCIB member company Citi for making time to take on a major speaking role. She did a fantastic job presenting how businesses in the real world approach investment decisions, and how those decisions are good for our economy.”

USCIB Provides Input to OECD Task Force on Countering Illicit Trade

Through Business at OECD (BIAC), USCIB recently had an opportunity to contribute to an OECD Task Force on Countering Illicit Trade Plenary Meeting. During the Plenary, the Chair of BIAC’s Anti-Illicit Trade Expert Group and Chair of USCIB’s Customs and Trade Facilitation Committee, David Luna, highlighted the significant impact of illicit trade on the economy, businesses and people’s welfare. Luna also stressed the importance of collaboration among all stakeholders, including public and private, to counter the significant risks posed by illicit trade.

Luna used this platform to officially announce the launch of a new partnership program with the OECD, which seeks to strengthen public-private sector collaboration on tackling illicit trade. The partnership will commence with a special project focused on “the challenges of illicit trade for e-commerce” and will soon be followed by another project on “illicit trade in high-risk areas at the time of Covid-19.”

The partnership is also looking into launching two additional potential projects on Maritime Transports and Free Trade Zones.

Senior White House Official Peter Harrell Meets With USCIB Trade and Investment Committee

Peter Harrell

USCIB’s Trade and Investment Committee welcomed White House Senior Director for International Economics and Competitiveness Peter Harrell during the Committee’s quarterly meeting on March 25.

Harrell, who is dual-hatted in both the National Security Council (NSC) and National Economic Council (NEC), outlined Biden Administration policies and priorities on a range of international economic issues, including trade, and according to USCIB Senior Advisor Shaun Donnelly, had a candid Q&A session with USCIB members.

“It was great to hear directly and candidly from a senior White House official playing a key role on a wide range of issues important to our members,” said USCIB’s new Senior Vice President for Innovation, Regulation, and Trade Brian Lowry. “I was especially impressed that Peter wanted to listen to views, as well as questions, from our members and offered candid answers. We look forward to a continuing dialogue with Peter Harrell and other senior Administration officials on a range of important and challenging issues.”

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USCIB Co-Hosts Seminar of Digital Issues in Brazil’s OECD Accession  

USCIB joined with the U.S. Chamber’s U.S.-Brazil Business Council and Brazil’s National Industrial Confederation (CNI) to co-host an important seminar on Brazil’s accession to the OECD.

The seminar on March 18 on Digital Issues in Brazil’s OECD accession featured speakers from the Brazilian and U.S. governments, digital trade experts from the OECD Secretariat and the Business at OECD (BIAC) coalition, in which both CNI and USCIB are actively involved, as well as private sector representatives.

The virtual session, the second in an on-going series on various critical policy issues in Brazil’s OECD candidacy, drew over seventy-five participants from Brazil, the U.S., and beyond.

“We has an excellent introductory discussion of a wide range of digital issues, including privacy, Artificial Intelligence (AI), data localization, and intellectual property protections,” said USCIB Senior Advisor Shaun Donnelly, who co-chaired the session. “Clearly both the Brazilian government and our friends at CNI and across the Brazilian private sector are enthusiastic about the possibility of Brazil becoming a candidate to join the OECD. That OECD accession process is never an easy one; OECD standards are high. But because it is an important partner for the U.S. and for our member companies, we continue to play an active and constructive role in this process, both in various BIAC expert committees in Paris and in efforts like today’s seminar with our members and partners like CNI and the U.S. and Brazilian Governments.”

 

USCIB Welcomes Senate’s Unanimous Confirmation Vote on USTR Tai

Photo: Bill O’Leary/The Washington Post/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Washington, D.C., March 18, 2021—The United States Council for International Business (USCIB) salutes the Senate for its unanimous vote on March 17 to confirm Katherine Tai as the next U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), believing she is a solid choice for this important cabinet-level position, bringing outstanding experience as an attorney-advisor and litigator at USTR, as Chief Trade Counsel for the House of Representatives Ways and Means Trade Subcommittee, and as an attorney in the private sector.

America’s economic growth, jobs and competitiveness, our future, depends to a considerable degree on how well we are able to engage and compete in today’s, and tomorrow’s, global economy. USTR Tai will lead America’s efforts on some very important trade and investment issues including our leadership in the World Trade Organization (WTO), updated and improved rules on digital trade, reducing foreign trade and investment barriers hurting American companies and workers, and effectively enforcing our existing network of trade agreements. Tai’s experience with Congress, as well as her expertise in trade law, the WTO and in Asia and China will serve her, and our country, very well in ​this crucial position.

“USCIB knows and respects Ms.Tai and has worked well with her in her important role at the Ways and Means Committee,” said USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson. “As an organization committed to open trade and investment flows, as well as high standards of corporate responsibility, all of us at USCIB and our member companies look forward to working with Ms.Tai to advance America’s economic interests and our shared values.”

Citi’s Senior Vice President and Managing Director of Global Government Affairs Rick Johnston, who also c​hairs the USCIB Trade and Investment Committee added, “Ms. Tai is the timely choice for this critical role as USTR at a very important an​d challenging time. Winning unanimous support from the Senate is a rare tribute to her abilities, her experience, and the respect she has earned from all quarters. The right leader at the right time for a very important job.”

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. As the U.S. affiliate of the International Chamber of Commerce, the International Organization of Employers and Business at OECD (BIAC), USCIB provides business views to policy makers and regulatory authorities worldwide and works to facilitate international trade and investment. More at www.uscib.org.

Digital Economy Architects to Keynote at Joint OECD, Business at OECD and USCIB Conference

New York, N.Y., March 16, 2021 — For the past year, the COVID-19 pandemic has required us to conduct our lives virtually and has, subsequently, highlighted the relevance of the OECD’s Internet Policy Principles (IPPs). These principles call for a global free flow of information and services, multistakeholder participation, and cooperation to ensure Internet security and privacy. With these issues in mind, USCIB joined with the OECD and Business at OECD (BIAC) to organize a Digital Economy Conference focusing on “A Decade of OECD Internet Principles: Policy-Making in a Data-Driven World.” Key experts, such as MIT’s Daniel Weitzner, Microsoft’s Julie Brill, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce Christopher Hoff, Ambassador David Gross of Wiley, and Sharri Clark from the White House, as well as OECD’s Andrew Wyckoff, among others, will discuss the evolving digital ecosystem, Artificial Intelligence (AI), government access to data, and challenges to both business and policymakers.

“The IPPs, adopted in 2011, have underpinned the OECD’s evolving work on digital economy issues in the past decade,” said USCIB Vice President for ICT Policy Barbara Wanner. “These themes have also been echoed in recent digital economy work of the United Nations, the UN Internet Governance Forum, and other multilateral bodies.”

The May 25 virtual conference, officially the “Joseph H. Alhadeff Digital Economy Conference,” will consider how the IPPs have been reflected in some of the OECD’s ground-breaking digital work – such as development of the AI Principles. Industry experts will also consider how the Principles may be employed to address challenges posed by the rapid pace of digital innovation and related changes to the digital ecosystem.

Registration is now open for this conference. Please contact Erin Breitenbucher to register: ebreitenbucher@uscib.org.

Members of the press and media are also welcome to register and join.

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. As the U.S. affiliate of the International Chamber of Commerce, the International Organization of Employers and Business at OECD (BIAC), USCIB provides business views to policy makers and regulatory authorities worldwide and works to facilitate international trade and investment. More at www.uscib.org.

USCIB Welcomes Appointment of Mathias Cormann as New Head of OECD

Mathias Cormann speaks during a Senate inquiry at Parliament House in Canberra, October 20, 2020. (AAP Image/Lukas Coch)

New York, N.Y., March 15, 2021—The United States Council for International Business (USCIB), which represents many of the world’s leading companies and which serves as the U.S. Member Organization of Business at OECD (BIAC), welcomed the announcement of Mathias Cormann, a former Australian finance minister, as the candidate to be appointed the next OECD Secretary General.

Phil O’Reilly, chair of Business at OECD, noted that the OECD’s ability to bring solutions to global challenges relies on its effective consultation with the private sector. “Our input has been critical to the success and implementation of major OECD initiatives,” O’Reilly stated. “Our strengthened collaboration will be essential to further increase the OECD’s policy impact in the coming years.”

“Multilateralism matters now, more than ever, and all of us at USCIB look forward to a productive partnership and a collaborative relationship with the new OECD Secretary General,” said USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson. “USCIB and our members rely on BIAC’s work with the OECD to achieve the right policy responses and guidance. This cooperation will be critical as we all work together towards economic and social recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Cormann will succeed Ángel Gurría following his 15-year tenure with the Organization. “We thank Mr. Gurría for his strong leadership and look forward to hitting the ground running with Mr. Cormann to show that multilateralism delivers clear benefits for business and societies,” stated Hanni Rosenbaum, executive director of Business at OECDRick Johnston, Managing Director, International Government Affairs at Citibank, and a vice chair of Business at OECD, joined Robinson in expressing deep appreciation to Secretary-General Gurria for a long and cooperative relationship over his tenure at OECD.

Cormann will assume the role of Secretary General on June 1, 2021 and, upon assuming his post, will be the first person from the Asia-Pacific region to lead the OECD.

In Statement on International Women’s Day, USCIB Recognizes Setbacks Women Face Due to COVID-19

New York, N.Y., March 08, 2021 — On this year’s International Women’s Day, USCIB joins the global community in recognizing the critical contributions of women in responding to, and recovering from, the COVID-19 pandemic — often at the cost of hard-fought gains in equality and economic empowerment. Our task going forward is to ensure that these gains are recovered and that progress continues.

USCIB and its members have long championed the critical role of women’s education, employment and entrepreneurship for their own and their families’ health and well-being, as well as for the health and competitiveness of the societies and economies in which we live and do business. The United Nations report on “The Impact of COVID-19 on Women ” highlights the disproportionate impact that the pandemic has had on women and girls and rightly stresses that we must keep this disparity in mind, as well as be purposeful in championing women as we undertake the task of rebuilding our economies. This shared task confronts governments, business and civil society alike.

Through our engagement in the International Organization of Employers (IOE) and Business at OECD (BIAC), we will continue to work with our business counterparts around the world to address the barriers that continue to confront women and girls and to advance the opportunities that will allow them to thrive and our enterprises to prosper.

Please visit the UN Women’s page for International Women’s Day 2021 “Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world” for statements, stories and updates.

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. As the U.S. affiliate of the International Chamber of Commerce, the International Organization of Employers and Business at OECD (BIAC), USCIB provides business views to policy makers and regulatory authorities worldwide and works to facilitate international trade and investment. More at www.uscib.org.

USCIB Leads Business in UN Discussions on Investor-State Dispute Settlement Reform

USCIB Senior Advisor Shaun Donnelly and investment treaty expert Lauren Mandell from USCIB member firm WilmerHale represented USCIB at a virtual Working Group III (WG III) sessions of the UN Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL).  For over three years, WG III has been discussing possible “reforms” of the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) arbitration system.  The sessions had delegates and observers participating from around the world and every time zone. 

According to Donnelly, the European Union’s effort to establish a multilateral investment court continued to be the focus of discussions as it has been in the past three years.  Under the EU’s vision, the court would replace traditional ISDS – under which the investor appoints one arbitrator, the state appoints one arbitrator, and the parties jointly appoint the chair of the tribunal – with a “court” consisting of a pool of judges appointed solely by states, assigned to each case on a random basis. 

“The discussion last week focused on technical questions regarding how judges would be selected and appointed, including qualifications, nominations and screening procedures, and terms of office,” said Donnelly.  “However, amidst this technical exercise, numerous states, as well as USCIB and other observer groups, raised larger conceptual questions about the merits of a court. In particular, some states objected to losing their ability to appoint adjudicators in individual cases. Other states raised questions about the cost of establishing and maintaining the court.” 

The WG also started debate on the key issue of adding an appellate body which might review investor-state decisions, whether from an ISDS panel or a new investment court. USCIB actively participated in the discussions and posed many questions regarding the desirability of a court. 

As a next step, the working group tasked the UNCITRAL Secretariat with drafting legal text to flesh out the design of the court. According to Donnelly, it will be important for USCIB and USCIB member companies to actively monitor this drafting and negotiation process to ensure that the working group fully takes into account investors’ interests. 

USCIB is one of only a few non-governmental organizations representing business that is accredited to participate in the working group discussions.  

“It’s not clear how much real progress was made but there was real debate on some important issues,” Donnelly said. “My colleague Lauren and other expert observers got chances to point out major questions and problems with the EU’s investment court proposal. Increasing numbers of member states also seem to be focusing on the flaws in the EU’s radical proposal which would eliminate investors’ role in selecting arbiters. The U.S. government delegation did an outstanding job. We will continue to work with interested government delegations as well as legal, arbitration and business groups allies. We encourage more USCIB members to get involved with us in this important negotiation.”