USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson took part in high-level panel discussions at the recent International Labor Conference, the ILO’s annual high-level gathering, as well as the annual general meeting of ICC-UK, the International Chamber of Commerce‘s chapter in the United Kingdom. At both events, he discussed new challenges of multilateralism in an era when some observers have called the multilateral model’s viability into question.
At the ILO, Robinson took part in a discussion of multilateral institutions and the future of work, alongside ILO Director General Guy Ryder, WTO Director General Roberto Azevêdo, OECD Chief of Staff Gabriela Ramos and Sharan Burrow, secretary general of the International Trade Union Confederation, among others. He said that, from the perspective of employers, it is clear that businesses do well in stable and prosperous societies where inequality is not as rampant.
“The real question is whether governments, who are the ones to tackle inequality, are able to create the right kind of legal and regulatory frameworks to do so,” Robinson observed. “Global institutions need to continue to help governments by providing appropriate research and statistics and policy prescriptions – the OECD and ILO play important roles in those areas.”
The USCIB president called for an “inclusive multilateralism,” where all stakeholders are present and a climate of trust prevails. “Business wants to be part of the solution,” he said. “But we need to feel like we are listened to, and that we have a seat at the table. Just as we need more inclusive forms of economic growth, so we also need a more inclusive model of multilateralism, one that draws on the best ideas from broadly representative groups in civil society, including business and employers’ organizations.”
At the ICC-UK meeting, Robinson joined a panel on the future of the WTO and the multilateral trading system. He recalled recent USCIB papers on WTO modernization as well as the ongoing e-commerce negotiations. USCIB’s vision for the WTO, he said, “focuses not only on strengthening existing agreements, but also on addressing subsidies and other market-distorting support provided to state-owned enterprises, the establishment of new rules for current issues such as digital trade and customs processes on electronic transmissions, and ensuring a properly functioning appellate body, among other issues. The U.S. has been a major beneficiary of the WTO’s dispute settlement system, bringing and winning more cases than any other WTO member.”
Robinson was also a guest at ICC-UK’s board meeting (as was Crispin Conroy, ICC’s new Geneva representative), where he provided an overview of USCIB/ICC-USA priorities.