USCIB Foundation and OECD Partner on ICT Conference

The USCIB Foundation, Inc., USCIB’s educational arm, is teaming up once again with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and Business at OECD (BIAC), to host the 1st inaugural event of The Joseph H. Alhadeff Digital Economy Conference Series on March 25, 2019 at the AT&T Forum For Technology, Entertainment & Policy in Washington, D.C.

The digital transformation of the global economy has revealed exciting potential for a more prosperous, productive, inclusive, and socially beneficial world. We need an enabling policy environment for investment and innovation, however, in order to make the most of the potential for digital transformation to improve people’s lives and generate prosperity. At the same time, we must be prepared to address how the fruits of digital innovation can create challenges to privacy, security, and the future of work.

This conference – the fourth such collaboration between USCIB, BIAC, and the OECD – will explore the findings of the OECD’s Going Digital Project, an ambitious two-year examination of how digital transformation affects policymaking across a large spectrum of policy areas. We will draw upon the expertise of the OECD Secretariat on Science, Technology, and Innovation, senior U.S. government officials, and business experts from USCIB and BIAC member companies. In particular, speakers will consider how best to secure the digital economy from ever-more sophisticated cybersecurity threats. In addition, experts will delve into both the promise and challenges of tapping the power of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and other emerging technologies.

Featured Speakers

  • David Redl
    Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information and Administrator of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), U.S. Department of Commerce
  • Robert Strayer
    Deputy Assistant Secretary for Cyber and International Communications and Information Policy, U.S. Department of State
  • Gail Slater
    Special Assistant to the President for Technology, Telecommunications and Cybersecurity Policy, National Economic Council, The White House
  • Andrew Wyckoff
    Director of the OECD Directorate for Science, Technology and Innovation (STI)
  • Russel Mills
    Secretary General, Business at OECD
  • Anne Carblanc
    Head of the OECD Digital Economy Policy Division (CDEP)
  • Julie Brill
    Corporate Vice President and Deputy General Counsel, Microsoft Corporation and Co-Chair, Business at OECD Committee on Digital Economy Policy (CDEP)
  • Laurent Bernat
    OECD Secretariat, OECD Global Forum on Digital Security for Prosperity
  • Molly Lesher
    OECD Secretariat, Going Digital Project

Sponsored by:

AT&T
Facebook
The Walt Disney Company
Verizon Communications
CenturyLink
Computer & Communications Industry Association

For more information, please visit the event website.

USCIB Releases 2019 Trade and Investment Priorities

USCIB has published its 2019 Trade and Investment Agenda. The Agenda is a result of an intensive consultation process with USCIB members to identify key member priorities for 2019. Per member input, many key principles developed for 2018 remain relevant for this year, though the changing trade and investment landscape has also raised new priorities for 2019.

The annual action plan anticipates a potentially busy year on trade and investment including: pressing for congressional approval of USMCA in 2019, seeking Administration action to resolve differences with China, movement on trade negotiations with Japan, EU and the UK, supporting negotiations in the WTO on a digital trade agreement, and modernizing the WTO,” said USCIB Senior Vice President for Policy and Government Affairs Rob Mulligan. “We look forward to a busy and productive year opening international markets and strengthening the global rules-based trade and investment framework.”

The 2019 Agenda will be shared with key U.S. government policymakers.

Global Pact for Environment Negotiation Fails to Reach Consensus

This first negotiating session was mandated by the UN General Assembly to review “gaps” and “fragmentation” of international environmental law, and consider the substance and form of a Global Pact.
Countries raising strong concerns included the United States with Argentina, Brazil, Iran, Russia and Iran.

 

Joining an International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) delegation representing business interests, USCIB attended the first substantive inter-governmental negotiations on a UN Global Pact for the Environment (GPE), hosted at the headquarters of UN Environment in Nairobi, Kenya January 14 – 18.  ICC also held a preparatory meeting on the proposed GPE in Paris on January 8, attended by USCIB members American Chemistry Council, Arkema, Bayer, Monsanto and Novozymes, along with USCIB Vice President for Strategic International Engagement, Energy and Environment Norine Kennedy.

This first negotiating session was mandated by the UN General Assembly to review “gaps” and “fragmentation” of international environmental law, and consider the substance and form of a Global Pact. Some countries recommended the Pact should be a legally binding treaty that codifies “soft law” principles, such as the Precautionary and Polluter Pays principles. Other countries also suggested including rights-based approaches to a “clean and healthy environment.”

The Nairobi meeting, chaired by Ambassadors of Lebanon and Portugal, was open to observers from non-governmental and business organizations.  The session reviewed a report from the UN Secretary General on Gaps in International Environmental Law and Environment Related Instruments.

Countries supporting the development of a holistic Pact, possibly including codified environmental principles, improved coordination and implementation of existing environmental agreements and defining environmental human rights, included the European Union bloc, Switzerland, Micronesia, Morocco, Peru and Senegal.

Countries raising strong concerns included the United States with Argentina, Brazil, Iran, Russia and Iran.

Most other countries expressed more nuanced views along with questions about practicality, efficacy, political viability and other areas.

“The proposed Pact opens a complex set of legal and regulatory issues, yet has not defined any actual environmental challenges that it would address,” stated Kennedy. “Until that is clear, USCIB will continue to raise questions about whether such a Pact would actually improve implementation of international environmental rules.”

The session closed with no consensus on the substance or form of a proposed Pact. Two further sessions in Nairobi are to deliver a recommendation to the UN General Assembly this September for next steps to develop a GPE. The next UN negotiating session from March 18-20 will seek to reach a common understanding on what constitutes a “gap” in international environmental law, as a precursor to seeking to agree specific “gaps” and remedies that might be set out in a UN Global Pact.

Robinson Contributes to OECD’s Going Digital Work in Paris

USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson (left) with OECD Secretary General Angel Gurria

USCIB CEO and President Peter Robinson was in Paris January 15 as part of the business delegation at the annual Business at OECD Liaison Committee Meeting (LCM) consultation with OECD Ministers. The focus of this meeting was on the OECD’s “Going Digital” work and titled “Expanding Digital Opportunities: Agreeing Priority Actions”. Robinson served as a moderator of one of three concurrent panels composed of business leaders, OECD Ambassadors and OECD staff.

Robinson’s session was “Future Proofing to ensure broader societal success” and engendered discussion around two questions: What approaches best enable dynamic policy-making, and where are they most needed? And what does good multi-stakeholder collaboration look like in this context?

“I see the latter being a big component of the former and was able to point to OECD’s general leadership in multi-stakeholder engagement, which has been setting an example at a time when some other international organizations seem to be not as open to business involvement,” reflected Robinson.

“The ambassadors on my panel seemed to truly appreciate the opportunity to dialogue with business in this way, and their contributions consisted of a mix of reactions to Business at OECD’s position paper and examples of initiatives in their own countries—including from Italy, Japan, and Latvia—reflecting multi-stakeholder engagement in the digital age.”

OECD Secretary General Angel Gurria and Business at OECD Chair Phil O’Reily circulated among the panels and shared leadership of the plenary sessions. Business at OECD Secretary General Russell Mills also served as a moderator, as did Julie Brill, Microsoft Corporate vice president and deputy general counsel, who chairs the Business at OECD Committee on Digital Economy Policy. USCIB Board member and Business at OECD Vice Chair Rick Johnston was also on hand, as were other USCIB member executives from firms including IBM, Cooley LLP, Google and PwC.

OECD will hold its “Going Digital” Summit March 11-12 in Paris. The USCIB/BIAC/OECD “Going Digital: OECD Insights for a Changing World” will be held on March 25-26 in Washington, D.C. The annual OECD Ministerial will be held May 22-23 in Paris, at which Digital will figure centrally.

 

New Video Highlights USCIB’s Value Add

USCIB has launched a new video highlighting the organization’s policy expertise, close working relationship with decision makers and links to key international business organizations. The video features many of USCIB’s policy experts including USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson, USCIB Vice President for Product Policy and Innovation Mike Michener, USCIB Senior Director for Trade and Financial Services Eva Hampl, USCIB Vice President for Strategic International Engagement, Energy and Environment Norine Kennedy and USCIB Vice President for Corporate Responsibility and Labor Affairs Gabriella Rigg Herzog. (See video below.)

The video was presented at USCIB’s 2018 International Leadership Award Gala, which honored Unilever CEO Paul Polman.

UN Climate Talks Agree on Paris Pact Implementation

Norine Kennedy (center, at laptop) speaks at a business dialogue in Katowice, Poland.
Talks went down to the wire to address who pays for losses due to climate change, and how to balance responsibilities of industrialized vs. developing countries.
USCIB has urged the Trump administration to remain at the table in the UN climate process.

This year’s UN Climate Conference (COP 24) concluded late on Saturday night in Katowice, Poland, having made major progress in several key areas for American business, including on implementation of the landmark 2015 Paris Climate Agreement.

Over 31,000 representatives of governments, UN bodies, NGOs, business and the media were on hand in the capital of Poland’s coal-dependent Silesia province for the 24th conference of parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Norine Kennedy, USCIB’s vice president of strategic international engagement, energy and environment, attended the entire two-week conference. She noted that, despite rough patches that delayed reaching a resolution, the resulting “Paris Rulebook” now offers clarity and predictability for companies planning long term investment and operations relating to energy.

“Crunch issues, which weren’t resolved until the last minutes of intense negotiations, included compensation for climate change-related loss and damage, how to reference scientific findings on potential impacts of a 1.5 degree (Celsius) change in global temperatures, and how to balance reporting requirements for developed and developing countries to ensure comparability and fairness.” Kennedy said.

On the Paris Rulebook, an implementation guide for the Paris Agreement, governments reached compromises to advance accounting and reporting of national climate pledges, as well as information on support provided to developing countries by developed countries. Kennedy said the price of the compromises reached seems to be a decision to defer an outcome on a section of the Paris Rulebook relating to voluntary carbon markets until next year’s conference of the parties, when governments will gather again in Chile.

“The UN Climate Agreement is a dynamic enterprise that has evolved to reflect new science and include new issues, such as just transition,” she said. “But a constant in the UN deliberations is the imperative for business innovation, engagement and action.” USCIB has advocated for enhanced involvement of representative business and employers’ organizations in the policy and implementation discussions.

The International Chamber of Commerce once again provided support for private-sector representation at the COP. USCIB members attending the two-week session took part in the ICC Business Day, the Major Economies Business Forum Business Dialogue and in presentations of the Global Action Agenda showcasing voluntary initiatives by business and other non-governmental interests.

On December 9, USCIB presented its report, “Business Engagement in Implementing National Climate Pledges and the Paris Agreement.” This report gathers business and government experiences in framing and acting on national pledges, and identifies best practices as national governments strengthen their national climate programs, working with business and other societal partners.

“USCIB has encouraged the Trump administration to advance U.S. business interests in the UN climate talks, including the Paris Agreement,” Kennedy noted. “We support having the U.S. remain at the table to defend American economic interests that may arise there.”

The UN process will now move ahead towards a UN Climate Summit to be convened by UN Secretary General Antonio Gutierres in September 2019 in New York, then on to Chile next December.

Digital Partnerships Crucial to Achieve Sustainable Health

The Forum explored the role digital technologies and strategic partnerships play towards the success and well-being of economies and societies.
The Forum featured business contributions on the potential of data for better health, planning for new technologies, and connecting people and patients with healthier choices and lifestyles through digital opportunities.

 

Business at OECD (BIAC) convened senior representatives from business, the OECD, and governments on December 14 in Paris at its 3rd Annual Forum on Health. The Forum explored the role digital technologies and strategic partnerships play towards the success and well-being of economies and societies. The Forum also featured business contributions on the potential of data for better health, planning for new technologies, and connecting people and patients with healthier choices and lifestyles through digital opportunities.

“Improving health in the 21st century can only take place with patient and consumer engagement by optimizing prevention and disease management approaches” said Nicole Denjoy, chair of the Business at OECD Health Committee. “Digital and health technologies are critical to achieve this goal, but we still need policies that support this transformation.”

Experts also examined how partnerships can help achieve balanced dietary choices and active lifestyles. “Well-structured Public-Private initiatives show how even challenging issues can be tackled through joint actions when implementation is effective, positive changes bring mutual benefits and the targeted groups are supported with measures appropriate to their needs,” said Russel Mills, Business at OECD Secretary General.

“This exemplifies the extent to which digital transformation has affected all aspects of our lives,” said USCIB Vice President for ICT Policy Barbara Wanner. “Digital transformation creates some challenges, to be sure, but also offers promising health-related benefits that have the potential to improve everyone’s quality of life, provided there are appropriate enabling conditions for business investment in continued innovation.”

Commenting on the role of international cooperation, OECD Secretary General Angel Gurria stated, “Greater co-operation between the private and public sectors on health issues will be critical to unlock the full power of digital innovation in this area. Partnerships, including at the international level, are essential to connect the brightest minds and to promote research on complex health issues, especially where upfront R&D expenditures are vast and payoffs uncertain.”

Unilever’s Polman Exhorts Industry to Redouble Action on Sustainability

Unilever CEO Paul Polman
Companies need to spur new partnerships to get to the “tipping point” on sustainability, said the 2018 recipient of USCIB’s International Leadership Award.
Hundreds of attendees gathered at the Delegates Dining Room at the United Nations for the annual USCIB award gala.

Business leaders must increase their commitment to sustainability, partnering with governments, international organizations and NGOs, if humanity is to avoid serious crises resulting from environment degradation and persistent poverty, according to Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever and the 2018 recipient of USCIB’s International Leadership Award. Polman was honored at a gala dinner last night at the Delegates Dining Room at the United Nations in New York.

“We need to create broader partnerships to get to the tipping point” of tackling climate change and other global challenges, according to Polman. “It doesn’t take much to move the global agenda. It just takes a few people. It takes the right leaders, leaders with a high awareness of what is going on, but also a high ability to engage. Leaders with a certain sense of humanity and humility, purpose-driven, longer-term, willing to work in partnerships. Not necessarily the skills that we’ve all been taught.”

L-R: USCIB Chairman Terry McGraw, ICC Secretary General John Denton, Unilever CEO Paul Polman, UN Deputy Secretary General Amina Mohammed, USCIB President & CEO Peter Robinson

USCIB’s annual award dinner attracted hundreds of top business executives, policy makers and members of the diplomatic community to the UN headquarters on a crisp, starry night, with speakers extolling the importance of a strong business role in confronting global challenges. UN Deputy Secretary General Amina Mohammed applauded the private sector’s participation in realizing the ambitious 2030 Development Agenda, and she, like Polman, encouraged companies to do more.

As global leaders confront new, populist challenges on trade, USCIB Chairman Terry McGraw, CEO emeritus of S&P Global, said that governments and international organizations also must do more to ensure the 2030 goals are met. “Without expanded cross-border trade, smart regulation and support for innovation, there is not a chance in the world that we can hit the mark of the UN’s 2030 Agenda,” he stated.

USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson took the opportunity of the 2018 award gala to note the 70th anniversary of the landmark Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which he called “a fundamental recognition of our shared humanity and the equality of every person in the eyes of God and in the eyes of their fellow men and women.” He told gala attendees that “USCIB members stand united in support of human rights, and we pledge to do all we can in the ongoing struggle to defend human dignity.”

Robinson also introduced a new USCIB video highlighting the organization’s policy expertise, close working relationship with decision makers and links to key international business organizations. (See video link below.)

But the evening belonged to Polman, who recently announced plans to retire from the helm of Unilever following a long career with the company. “There’s no reason for 840 million people to go to bed hungry every night, not even knowing if they [will] wake up the next day. There’s no reason for us to waste 30 to 40 percent of the food that we produce. There’s no reason to value a dead tree more than a tree that’s alive, taking the lungs out of the world.”

John Denton, secretary general of the International Chamber of Commerce, which Polman chairs, praised the Unilever CEO’s generosity, grace and openness as a person.

The Unilever chief used his experience transforming his company’s social and environmental footprint as an indication of what could be done if corporate leaders put their minds to it. “Unilever’s model is indeed decoupling our growth from environmental impact, but also to maximize our overall social impact. At a time when trust is low, we think the only way to regain that is with transparency. Transparency builds trust, which is the basis for prosperity.”

He continued: “By having that simple focus, you will soon discover that you’re better off as well, We are getting two million people [applying for jobs at Unilever] every year, in fact the third-most on LinkedIn, after Google and Apple.”

Established in 1980, USCIB’s International Leadership Award is presented annually to a leading CEO, international figure or institution, recognizing outstanding contributions to global trade, finance and investment, and to improving the global competitive framework in which American business operates. Recent recipients have included Ajay Banga of Mastercard and Randall Stephenson of AT&T. More on the annual event is available at www.uscibgala.com and photos from the event are here.

USCIB International Business Magazine: Winter 2018 Issue

The Winter 2018 issue of USCIB’s quarterly International Business magazine is available here. The issue features a timely column by USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson titled, “Upholding Human Rights Requires Strong Partnerships.” The issue also features news stories on USCIB’s leadership in promoting food security and nutrition partnerships, the U.S.-China trade conflict, and USCIB’s artificial intelligence priorities, plus news from our global network–Business at OECD, the International Organization of Employers and the International Chamber of Commerce.

“International Business,” USCIB’s quarterly journal, provides essential insight into major trade and investment topics, a high-level overview of USCIB policy advocacy and services, USCIB member news and updates from our global business network.

Subscribe to USCIB’s International Business Magazine

Subscriptions to “International Business” are available free upon request to representatives of USCIB member organizations. Contact us to subscribe.

Non-members may subscribe to “International Business” and other USCIB print publications at an annual rate of $50 (U.S.) for domestic delivery, or $75 for overseas delivery. Contact us to subscribe. USCIB’s annual report, studies from the United States Council Foundation and related publications are included with your paid subscription.

Our free electronic newsletter, “International Business Weekly,” provides regular updates on USCIB’s major activities and priorities. Click here to view a sample issue. Click here to subscribe.

We welcome outside submissions and inquiries regarding our publications – send them to news@uscib.org.

We welcome advertising in International Business magazine — special discounted rates for USCIB member organizations! Contact Kira Yevtukhova (kyevtukhova@uscib.org) for more information.

USCIB in the News: Taxes, Trade and Tariffs

USCIB’s voice and views were reflected in many of the top stories of the past several months, which saw a heavy focus on taxes, trade and tariffs. USCIB and its global network were featured prominently in numerous stories covering NAFTA modernization, China tariffs and the OECD’s work on global tax policy.

In October, USCIB CEO and President Peter Robinson contributed a letter to the Financial Times in response to an editorial urging action on the digital divide. In his letter, Robinson noted that “public-private partnerships are indeed needed to broaden access to the internet, and companies are already moving ahead in this regard, in addition to taking action on their own.”

In discussing G20 trade tensions, USCIB Senior Vice President Rob Mulligan sat down with BBC World News to do a live television interview. Mulligan said that Trump is right to address the balance of trade between the U.S. and China, but that tariffs aren’t the answer and will ultimately cause higher prices and job losses.

To read more of USCIB activity in the media, please visit this link.