USCIB Statement on Selection of Samantha Power to Lead USAID

Photo source: www.samanthapower.com

New York, N.Y., January 14, 2021 — President and CEO of the United States Council for International Business (USCIB) Peter Robinson released a statement today in reaction to President-elect Joe Biden’s selection of Ambassador Samantha Power to lead the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID):

“We welcome President-elect Biden’s selection of Ambassador Samantha Power to lead the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). USAID’s mission of humanitarian assistance and sustainable development matters to business, and USCIB looks forward to continuing to work with the dedicated people of USAID to advance American interests in global institutions and in the world marketplace. 

“Vigorous U.S. engagement in multilateral institutions will be indispensable to advance and scale worldwide progress in the four priorities of the incoming Biden/Harris Administration: defeating COVID-19, jump-starting economic recovery, addressing climate change, and promoting racial justice.

“USCIB also welcomes the Biden Administration’s commitment to the UN Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals. We encourage attention to opportunities to improve the impact and effectiveness of the 2030 Agenda process and to enhance i opportunities for meaningful and substantive involvement of business and other important societal partners. We call on the U.S. to diversify and increase its SDG2-oriented engagement in international institutions where USAID plays a key role, including the World Food Program, the Food and Agriculture Organization, and the Committee on World Food Security.

“American business has already joined forces with our government, the international community and other stakeholders to respond to the pandemic crisis with cascading global implications for economic development. We encourage Ambassador Power to champion active business participation in policy dialogue, partnership, and implementation on development and humanitarian areas in UN bodies such as UNDP, UNCTAD and UNICEF, among others. Building a trusted and recognized working relationship with business will be key as the international community faces new challenges that require mobilizing the private sector and society as a whole.

“We recognize USAID has consistently pursued partnership with businesses — including local business communities — to advance its mission and has highlighted the importance of economic growth as a pathway out of poverty. USCIB looks forward to a new chapter of American-led multilateral development cooperation in which USAID plays an indispensable role. USCIB members are ready to dialogue with Ambassador Power to inform priorities and pursue strategic multilateral involvement in international development that brings benefits at home and abroad.”

About USCIB: USCIB promotes open markets, competitiveness and innovation, sustainable development and corporate responsibility, supported by international engagement and prudent regulation. Its members include U.S.-based global companies and professional services firms with operations in every region of the world. As the U.S. affiliate of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), International Organization of Employers (IOE), and Business at OECD (BIAC), and as the sole U.S. business group with standing in ECOSOC, 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 Announces 2021 Priority Issues for Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC)

Washington D.C., January 5, 2020 — The United States Council for International Business (USCIB), which represents many of America’s leading global companies, appreciates and welcomes the committed partnerships that the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) has established with the private sector to address the many economic, trade and regulatory opportunities available to foster greater integration between APEC’s twenty-one member economies. Each year, USCIB issues a statement outlining priorities and recommendations that USCIB and its members would like to see advanced in that particular APEC year; we are pleased to announce and make available our 2021 APEC Priority Issues and Recommendations paper:

USCIB commends the leadership of Malaysia in 2020, particularly under the challenging circumstances of adjusting to virtual meetings in the face of an unprecedented global pandemic. Our members see the New Zealand host year as an important opportunity to continue essential work in APEC working groups and to set topics for major outcomes and deliverables. USCIB members are eager to learn more about key initiatives for New Zealand during its host year and how business can help achieve these initiatives. Further, USCIB members are looking forward to Thailand’s host year in 2022. We stand ready to provide relevant inputs into the establishment of goals and objectives. The policy priorities of USCIB reflect our longstanding and overarching objectives of promoting open markets, competitiveness and innovation, sustainable development, and corporate responsibility. The priorities and recommendations detailed in this document are practical recommendations that can be taken to address some of the challenges for governments and businesses in the APEC region.

There remain ongoing global business concerns that the U.S. government and APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) members should consider as they identify priorities for the upcoming year. USCIB members have identified key issues that are detailed in this paper. We view this APEC Priority Issues and Recommendations policy paper as a “living document”, which is updated on an annual basis at the time of the CEO Summit, and as necessary following Senior Official Meetings throughout the year. The priorities in this statement are not exhaustive, in many cases they are “living issues”, and we will continue to work with our members on emerging and developing issues. We would be pleased to address any questions and discuss any of these recommendations in greater detail.

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 Encourages Biden Environmental Nominees to Engage on Multilateral Issues

New York, N.Y., December 18, 2020: The United States Council for International Business (USCIB) issued a statement today by its President and CEO, Peter Robinson, commending the nominations of Michael Regan, for Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) and Brenda Mallory to lead the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ).

“USCIB members are strongly committed to advancing environmental protection through innovation and investment in the global marketplace. We believe that EPA and CEQ play crucial roles in shaping U.S. international environmental policy, not just in connection with climate change but in other priority areas, such as pursuing nature-based solutions, circular economies and responsible chemicals risk management. 2021 will be a year of important decision-points in the multilateral system, looking ahead to the fifth UN Environment Assembly and eventual thirty-year anniversary of the Rio Earth Summit; vigorous U.S. engagement in those deliberations will be vital for economic prosperity and environmental stewardship at home and abroad.

“USCIB sees opportunities to pursue synergies across international and domestic actions for enhanced environmental benefits, and advance the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), delivering a recovery that improves environmental quality, creates jobs and stimulates public-private partnerships. Since 1992, USCIB has represented U.S. business in support of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and its Paris Agreement. In addition, USCIB has been the voice of American business at the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM), and other multilateral environmental deliberations and forums. USCIB is fully committed to international cooperation and to partnership with our government to advance American private sector-driven economic prosperity and environmental stewardship at home and abroad. In our view, it is critical to continue to focus on and champion substantive engagement of U.S. business across the UN system on key environmental topics.

“USCIB and its members are ready to assist the incoming Administration to develop and implement market-oriented environmental solutions and measures, working with the international community and in consultation with the American private sector. As the U.S. affiliate of Business at OECD (BIAC), the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and the International Organization of Employers (IOE), and with its own standing at the UNFCCC, UNEP and at the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), USCIB is uniquely placed to scale and amplify these opportunities across the UN system, and in the OECD and the WTO.”

About USCIB: USCIB promotes open markets, competitiveness and innovation, sustainable development and corporate responsibility, supported by international engagement and prudent regulation. Its members include U.S.-based global companies and professional services firms with operations in every region of the world. As the U.S. affiliate of leading international business organizations and as the sole U.S. business group with standing in ECOSOC, USCIB provides business views to policy makers and regulatory authorities worldwide, and works to facilitate international trade and investment. More at www.uscib.org.

Policy Contact: VP for Strategic International Engagement, Energy and Environment Norine Kennedy (nkennedy@uscib.org)

USCIB Commemorates Human Rights Day and Universal Declaration of Human Rights

New York, N.Y., December 10, 2020: The United States Council for International Business (USCIB) issued the following statement on occasion of Human Rights Day today:

“On this Human Rights Day, USCIB stands with the global community in commemorating the important milestone of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in 1948. The UDHR rightly proclaims the inalienable rights which everyone is entitled to as a human being – regardless of race, color, religion, sex, language, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.The coverage of these rights includes LGBTI people too.

“USCIB especially welcomes the theme of this year’s Human Rights Day, “Recover Better – Stand Up for Human Rights,” and is dedicated to encouraging, advocating for and promoting human rights in business though sound regulations, greater respect for rule of law and greater business community involvement. The COVID-19 pandemic has illuminated how important and fragile respect for human rights can be, while simultaneously demonstrating that challenges can present important opportunities to collaborate for solutions. We are proud of the actions undertaken by our membership of multinational businesses, law firms and trade associations to ensure that people and planet are protected during the pandemic.”As we come together as a global community to rebuild throughout and beyond COVID-19, USCIB and our members are committed to working with governments, the private sector and other stakeholders to advance sustainable and human rights-based solutions for all. This includes those global business organizations for which we serve as the U.S. affiliate, the International Chamber of Commerce, the International Organization of Employers and Business at OECD (known as ‘BIAC’).”

About USCIB: USCIB promotes open markets, competitiveness and innovation, sustainable development and corporate responsibility, supported by international engagement and prudent regulation. Its members include U.S.-based global companies and professional services firms with operations in every region of the world. As the U.S. affiliate of the leading international business organizations, and as the sole U.S. business group with standing in the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), USCIB provides business views to policy makers and regulatory authorities worldwide, and works to facilitate international trade and investment. More at www.uscib.org.

Donnelly Advocates for Investment, Investor-State Dispute Settlement

USCIB Senior Advisor Shaun Donnelly was a panelist in a two half-day virtual Forum on Investor-State Mediation December 8-9 organized by the British Institute of International and Comparative Law (BIICL). The conference brought together international arbitrators, mediators, academics and investment experts. Donnelly’s panel, wrapping up the conference, was focused on “Future of ISDS Mediation: Climate Change, COVID-19 and the Potential Surge of Investor State Disputes.” ISDS (Investor-State Dispute Settlement) is the arbitration enforcement provisions commonly found in international investment agreements. 

Donnelly, the lone business voice on a panel with ISDS skeptics from NGOs and academia, emphasized the importance of private sector investment, including Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), to drive global economic recovery, growth, trade and jobs. 

“Investment agreements with strong investor-state dispute  settlement provisions can be key to incentivizing investment flows,” said Donnelly.  Donnelly also challenged critics to show any recent surge of ISDS cases, noting investors are generally acting responsibly and assisting host governments in dealing with the daunting health and economic crises. He endorsed serious mediation efforts as an additional tool, but not as a substitute for, to support strong investment agreements in resolving disputes. 

“If early, time-limited, voluntary mediation can solve problems, resolve disputes, cut costs, and speed decisions, great!” he added.  “I enjoyed the opportunity to participate in a very interesting, very international conference focused on mediation as potential tool to help resolve investment disputes,” Donnelly said. “It was important for business voices to be there with lawyers, arbitrators and mediators, as well as NGO activist and academics. We had a good exchange. I think effective mediation could be a useful tool in some cases but it has to be voluntary for the parties and should not be seen as an excuse for radical revisions to international investment agreements and established dispute settlement mechanisms.”        

USCIB Member P&G Wins 2020 Corporate Leadership Award

P&G’s Deborah Majoras. Image source: Google

The Coalition for Integrity (“C4I”), a leading Washington-based NGO devoted to fighting bribery and corruption in the U.S. and internationally, awarded its coveted Corporate Leadership Award for 2020 to Procter & Gamble (“P&G”), a long-time USCIB member company.  P&G was honored on December 8 for its good corporate citizenship, leadership in proposing transparency and integrity and its long-established Purposes, Values and Principles (“PVP”) program.  P&G Chief Legal Officer Deborah Majoras accepted the award on behalf of P&G CEO David Taylor.  The Coalition also cited P&G’s extraordinary efforts and philanthropy in 2020 to fight the COVID-19 virus. 

P&G is the seventh USCIB member company to receive the C41 Corporate Leadership Award, joining previous winners Bechtel, The Coca-Cola Company, General Electric, Marriott International, PepsiCo and Raytheon Technologies.

USCIB President & CEO Peter Robinson congratulated P&G. “We’re delighted to see, again this year, one of our leading companies, P&G, recognized for its pathbreaking leadership on corporate responsibility, integrity, anti-corruption and corporate citizenship,” said Robinson. “Like other USCIB companies, P&G has earned an enviable reputation for its corporate leadership here at home in the U.S. and around the world.  P&G sells products in 180 countries around the world and has a direct corporate presence in over 70 of those nations. Our member companies are making the world a much better place and are an example for other companies around the world.”   

The Coalition presented its other major award, the Integrity Award, to Dr. Anthony Fauci, in recognition of his work in combatting the COVID-19 virus and maintaining a high standard of scientific integrity and credibility. The Coalition’s press release on the Awards non-dinner gala ceremony highlights Dr. Fauci’s acceptance speech. USCIB Senior Advisor Shaun Donnelly is a longtime member of the Coalition for Integrity’s Policy Advisory Board.  He and USCIB Senior Director for Trade, Investment and Financial Services Eva Hampl have worked with the Coalition on international anti-bribery issues, including promoting enforcement of the OECD Anti-bribery Convention. 

USCIB Leads Business Dialogue on Climate Change and Trade, Investment and Recovery

The Major Economies Business Forum (BizMEF) held its annual Business Dialogue on December 7, en route to next year’s Glasgow Climate Summit; this year’s BizMEF event was held virtually following the postponement of COP26 in Scotland.  The event, Restoring Momentum, Advancing Synergies – Building Recovery into COP26 with the Private Sector, set the scene for a series of in-depth dialogues in 2021 on trade and climate, climate investment and finance for innovation and national climate pledges that reflect COVID19 impacts and recovery opportunities.

The BizMEF Business Dialogue marked the fifth anniversary of the Paris Agreement and welcomed over seventy participants from government, academia and business.  Opening the session were USCIB CEO and President Peter Robinson and the Chief Strategist for Minority, Policy and Communications of the Climate Select Committee from the U.S. House of Representatives George David Banks.  In his remarks, Banks cautioned against unilateralism and stressed that multilateralism, commercial strategies and leveraging domestic policies will go a long way in realizing the goals of the Paris Agreement.

The dialogue discussed free trade and climate change, including the European Union’s Carbon Border Adjustment mechanism proposal, the impacts and considerations of the COVID-19 pandemic on economic disruption and development of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), as well as climate change finance and investment.

High-level government speakers at the December 7 dialogue included Ignacio Garcia Bercero, from the European Commission Directorate General for Trade, Motoko Ogawa, deputy director of Japan’s Environmental Economy Office and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) and Switzerland’s lead negotiator for climate finance, Gabriella Blatter.

USCIB is a founding member of BizMEF, an alliance of more than twenty leading multisectoral business groups from OECD and non-OECD countries, including BusinessEurope, Brazil (CNI), France (MEDEF), Japan (Keidanren), CGEM (Morocco), the AI Group (Australia) and others. BizMEF Dialogues at Climate Summits have been held every year since 2012 in Doha, Warsaw, Lima, Katowice, Marrakesh, Bonn and, most recently, in Madrid last year.

Brazil’s Accession to OECD: Robinson Provides Input at “Brazil OECD Business Policy Roundtables”

As Brazil continues its reform efforts to accede to the OECD, USCIB partnered with the Brazil-U.S. Business Council of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Brazil’s National Confederation of Industry (CNI) on December 8 to launch a series of Brazil OECD Business Policy Roundtables. The roundtables convene private sector representatives to build sectoral consensus and identify priorities and possible improvements for Brazil.

“The objective of this collaborative effort between the U.S. and Brazilian business communities is to channel private sector input to Brazilian policy makers with the goal of effecting further reforms in line with OECD standards,” said USCIB Senior Director for Trade, Investment and Financial Services Eva Hampl.

USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson spoke at the event this week and commended the reform efforts that have taken place in Brazil so far as critical to ensuring market access and a level playing field for companies operating in both markets. “Brazil is an important trade partner for the U.S. and therefore a very important market to USCIB members,” said Robinson. “Issues like trade, investment, taxation, intellectual property, and the digital economy are top of mind for our companies as they look to the Brazilian market. We look forward to discussions on all of these important issues with stakeholders in the roundtables following today’s launch event.”

As the U.S. representative to Business at OECD (known as “BIAC”), USCIB has been actively monitoring potential future accessions. Brazil formally requested OECD membership in May of 2017. According to Hampl, since the formal request in 2017, Brazil has taken steps to reform several parts of its economy to meet the OECD’s standards for eventual accession. To date, Brazil has not yet been invited to join the OECD.

In October of this year, the U.S. and Brazil updated the 2011 Agreement on Trade and Economic Cooperation. While not a comprehensive trade agreement, the update included important provisions on customs and trade facilitation, good regulatory practices and anti-corruption.

As with the accession of Colombia to the OECD, USCIB led the U.S. business effort at the OECD to share priorities on reforms. “We look forward to facilitating a similar conversation regarding Brazil,” added Robinson. “This collaborative effort with CNI, our network partner through Business at OECD, as well as the Brazil-U.S. Business Council of the U.S. Chamber, is an important step in discussing what is at stake for business in the economic relationship with Brazil.”

Robinson Delivers Business Perspective on Investment at UNCTAD High-Level Conference

As the leading business speaker at the opening plenary session of the virtual Global Investment Promotion Conference organized by the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) December 7-8, USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson laid out a clear message on the importance of investment in driving global economic recovery, trade and jobs. 

Robinson shared the virtual dais with UNCTAD Secretary General Mukhisa Kituyi, President of Botswana Mokgweetsi Masisi, Prime Minister of Barbados Mia Mottley, as well as leading business representatives, including the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) Permanent Observer to the United Nations Andrew Wilson.

Robinson’s remarks on trade focused on Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and the critical role of governments’ efforts in promoting FDI; he emphasized the importance of a strong investment climate and rule of law as foreign investors evaluate possible foreign investments. Robinson also endorsed UNCTAD’s efforts to build capacity of developing country governments in investment promotion.  According to Robinson, one key element in any investment agreement is access to effective, independent dispute settlement procedures by a potential investor.

“I was honored to be included in the opening panel for UNCTAD’s important virtual conference on investment promotion,” Robinson said. “We appreciate UNCTAD’s work in the critical area of investment policy. UNCTAD has clearly established itself as the global ‘go-to’ source for investment statistics and catalogue of provisions of regional and bilateral investment agreements.  We also greatly support UNCTAD’s efforts to include business perspectives in their conferences, including in panels and debates.  We at USCIB are convinced that FDI flows in all directions are key to getting the global economy back on track. The economy benefits from both inward and outward FDI flows, fostering trade, creating good jobs at home and abroad, as well as bolstering American competitiveness in today’s and tomorrow’s competitive global economy.”

USCIB member and Microsoft’s Vice President for UN Affairs in NY John Frank was a featured speaker on a December 8 panel “Executive Dialogue of Investment Facilitation and Advocacy.”  The Conference program and full list of speakers is available at Global Investment Promotion Conference – World Investment Forum – UNCTAD

USCIB Members Address Network Security During Crises, Environmental Sustainability at IGF

The fifteenth Internet Governance Forum (IGF), which was held in two phases November 2 -November 17, featured expert commentary from USCIB members that addressed two of the key thematic pillars of this year’s event – trust and improving the environment. Chris Boyer (AT&T) moderated a USCIB-organized workshop, in which Kathryn Condello (Lumen) highlighted how business and government closely collaborated from the earliest days of the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure secure, stable and reliable connectivity and, in so doing, create a framework for trust in the online environment.

In another USCIB-organized workshop, Matt Peterson (Amazon) and Caroline Louveaux (Mastercard) described their respective companies’ efforts to leverage technologies and their networks to address the planet’s environmental challenges through such initiatives as Amazon’s “Climate Pledge Fund” and Mastercard’s “Priceless Planet Coalition.”

According to USCIB Vice President for ICT Policy Barbara Wanner, both USCIB workshops attracted thirty-five to fifty virtual attendees from stakeholder groups throughout the world and garnered praise for the relevance and insightfulness of speakers’ comments in view of the still-rampant pandemic and challenges to the global environment.

Under the overarching theme ‘’Internet for human resilience and solidarity,” the annual IGF was hosted virtually by the United Nations given COVID-related travel restrictions. Given its virtual nature, the IGF Secretariat estimated that the event brought together more than five thousand leaders and ‎stakeholders of all sectors and all parts of the world, to discuss the impact of the Internet on ‎our lives within four key thematic tracks: (1) Data; (2) Environment; (3) Inclusion and (4) Trust.‎ As mentioned, USCIB members chose to showcase their corporate expertise under the trust and environment themes in two of the more than 200 IGF workshops.