USCIB Letter to Trade Representative Tai Supports Greener Trade Policy

USCIB submitted a letter to United States Trade Representative (USTR) Ambassador Katherine Tai in response to Tai’s recent comments at the Center for American Progress Greening U.S. Trade Policy program. In her remarks, Tai outlined both the Biden Administration’s vision to green U.S. and multilateral trade policy and welcomed business engagement to share experience and ideas in this effort.

“We are keen to support a trade agenda that reinvigorates negotiations on environmental goods and services, addresses fossil fuel and fisheries subsidies, ensures compatibility between environmental and trade rules, and considers the circular economy holistically,” said USCIB Senior Vice President for Innovation, Regulation, and Trade Brian Lowry.

Lowry added: “USCIB and its members understand that resource conservation is a critical environmental consideration and that a resilient supply chain must recognize and account for the finite supply of planetary resources.”

In line with the explicit recognition of the criticality of resource conservation, the letter emphasized that outdated trade policies and international rules that restrict cross border flows of used products and secondary material feedstock continue to be obstacles to effective and efficient resource recovery. Reducing these barriers, alongside the encouragement and implementation of environmentally sound options to recycle and recover waste, will enable creative solutions that work in synergy with trade rather than impose counter-productive barriers.

USCIB Leads in Preparations for Upcoming China Meetings at OECD

USCIB members and staff played leading roles in the April 23 China Expert Group’s preliminary meeting to preview and discuss Business at OECD (BIAC) presentations that will be made at the kick-off session of the OECD’s Informal Reflection Group on China in May. During the preliminary meeting, BIAC experts, including USCIB Senior Advisor Shaun Donnelly and Dell’s Eva Hampl (formerly USCIB and now a Vice Chair of BIAC’s China group), advanced key points that BIAC will emphasize including on state-owned enterprises (SOEs), investment, innovation and digitalization, and climate neutrality.

With regards to SOEs, Donnelly and others emphasized the importance of including provisions on SOEs in future investment and trade agreements, updating World Trade Organization (WTO) rules on subsidies, drawing China into multilateral consensus on export and development finance, as well as engaging China to reduce excess capacity in steel and rejoin the Global Forum on Steel Excess Capacity. The investment dialogue between China and the OECD should also be intensified and made more substantive, rather than political, according to Donnelly. Updating the investment policy review of China is also critical since the last review was done in 2008.

On innovation and digitalization, Donnelly noted the need to review efforts to onshore production in the name of supply chain resiliency, to study global value chains to ensure that policies are driven by OECD-generated facts and not politics and protectionism, to foster cooperation on IT and Artificial Intelligence (AI) information-sharing and standards’ development, engaging China on implementation and dissemination of AI principles and policies, as well as monitoring and acting on China’s development of virtual currency along with its impact on major currencies.

“Engaging China on harmonizing carbon pricing and emission trading schemes, pushing China more toward sustainable investment policies at home and abroad (such as their Belt and Road projects use of fossil fuels) and continuing to press for mitigation and strong environmental commitments from China is key,” said Donnelly.

Donnelly also led a discussion urging BIAC, as a business forum, to press the OECD and its member governments for substantive reform and results in its engagement with China and to worry less about protocol and diplomatic formalities.

“It was great to have USCIB and American business actively involved in BIAC’s preparations for this important China strategy session at the OECD,” added Donnelly.  “With a new Secretary General coming to OECD in June, a new U.S. Administration looking to play a leadership role at the OECD, and steadily growing concerns around the world about some of China’s policies and practices, it’s vital that Business at OECD and its American members focus on these issues of how the OECD can play a useful role with China.”

Donnelly added: “Eva Hampl from Dell did a great job leading Friday’s discussion on the innovation and digitalization issues.  She and I look forward to our roles as BIAC lead speakers in the session with the OECD China group.  It was also great to see several USCIB members logging on for the BIAC discussion, confirming that China issues, broadly defined, remain important priorities for USCIB and its broad, cross-sectoral membership.”

If members have issues, questions or suggestions related to this BIAC and OECD effort on China, please contact Allice Slayton Clark (asclark@uscib.org).

USCIB Welcomes President Biden’s Ambitious US Climate Action Pledges

The U.S. business group calls for society-wide dialogue to shape next steps

New York, N.Y., April 22, 2021—Transboundary challenges such as climate change are most effectively solved with the fullest possible international cooperation, so we applaud the Administration’s initiative to convene the Leaders Climate Summit and Major Economies Forum this week in Washington.

USCIB looks forward to working with the Administration to design policy and market approaches that mobilize private sector investment, innovation and implementation to advance climate action. USCIB represents leading U.S. and international businesses that have supported proactive engagement in the UN climate treaty and Paris Agreement since 1993.

The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and its Paris Agreement are not simply environmental treaties; they are influential frameworks for economic growth, energy access and security, job creation, food security, and innovation. In that context, we encourage the Administration to actively and substantively engage with the U.S. business community to set priorities and pursue climate policies that advance economic, energy and environmental benefits both at home and abroad.

Clearly, an all of government approach to tackle climate change will be indispensable, and building a trusted and recognized working relationship with business will be key.

We therefore encourage the Administration to undertake a society-wide dialogue with U.S. stakeholders, including the business community as represented by USCIB, which is unique in being based in our nation’s political and financial centers and in serving as the American affiliate of leading global business organizations:  The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), Business at OECD (BIAC) and the International Organization of Employers (IOE). Such an inclusive and consultative approach will empower and strengthen the development of the U.S. Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) and will be essential to deliver real progress on climate change and towards a sustainable recovery.

USCIB and its members stand ready to assist the Administration in realizing its ambitious vision for climate action and economic benefit throughout the international community. We will continue to leverage our role as entry-point for American business to global business organizations and networks and to the Major Economies Business Forum (BizMEF) to encourage governments to meet their NDC commitments. We will also continue to advance the alignment of trade, investment and innovation with climate change benefits vis a vis adaptation and mitigation.

USCIB looks forward to partnering with the Administration and the international community to realize our shared vision of inclusive recovery, prosperity and sustainability.

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. USCIB has represented U.S. business at the UNFCCC since 1993. Furthermore, 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.

USCIB Hosts Dialogue on Business Role in Sustainable Recovery and Paris Climate Pledges

Jesse Young (USG) and Norine Kennedy (USCIB)

Ahead of the White House Leaders’ Climate Summit, the Major Economies Forum and the Biden Administration’s unveiling of its Paris Agreement pledge and implementation plan, also known as the U.S. Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC), the Major Economies Business Forum (BizMEF) hosted a virtual Business Dialogue on April 21 on “Synergies with Sustainable Recovery: The Role of Business in Strengthening NDCs,” moderated by USCIB Senior Vice President Norine Kennedy.

Opening the meeting was USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson, who reflected on the crucial nature of inclusive multilateralism and the thought-leadership contributions USCIB has made in international climate change policy over the past two decades.

Peter Robinson makes remarks at BizMEF event

“An inclusive U.S. NDC will also be an ambitious and resilient one,” said Robinson. “During U.S. Climate Week, we can inspire and learn from one another. COP after COP since 1993, USCIB has worked supportively with U.S. administrations to make real progress for private sector innovation, investment and action in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC). We’ll also be working with the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), the International Organization of Employers (IOE), and Business at OECD (BIAC) to encourage governments around the world to strengthen their NDCs.”

During the meeting, government, and industry speakers from Japan, Denmark, Kenya and India discussed linking recovery and climate action through inclusive, ambitious NDCs, engaging business at national and global levels.

Jesse Young, senior advisor to the Special Presidential Envoy on Climate John Kerry, concluded the meeting with what can be expected during the White House Leaders’ Climate Summit; in addition to a new U.S. NDC, the Administration will release the first-ever international climate finance plan which will include a blueprint for how all U.S. government agencies will be enhancing action on climate change, as well as clear targets on climate finance, keeping in mind the role of business. He also commended BizMEF for continuing to advance constructive recommendations on international climate policy, when Major Economies Forum meetings were discontinued.

About: This virtual Business Dialogue built on BizMEF Dialogues at COPs in Doha, Warsaw, Lima, Bonn, Katowice and Madrid in 2019, followed by a first Virtual Business Dialogue in December last year. The Major Economies Business Forum on Energy Security and Climate Change (BizMEF) is a partnership of major multi-sectoral business organizations from major economies in developed and developing countries, and includes BusinessEurope, CII, CEOE, Business Unity South Africa, CGEM, MEDEF, BDI, Keidanren, and CNI. Since its launch in 2009,  BizMEF has provided responsible business views and practical input to the international climate change discussions at UNFCCC and OECD. USCIB is a founding partner of BizMEF, and helps support the alliance’s activities.

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 Announces New Policy Leadership

Brian Lowry

New York, N.Y., February 01, 2021: The United States Council for International Business (USCIB) announced that Brian Lowry, a former executive in the agriculture and crop science industry, and longtime USCIB corporate member leader, has joined USCIB’s staff as senior vice president of innovation, regulation, and trade. Lowry will be replacing Mike Michener, vice president for product policy and innovation, who is departing USCIB to join the Biden Administration to coordinate international food security policy.

Norine Kennedy

In addition, USCIB announced the promotion of Norine Kennedy to the position of senior vice president, policy and global strategy. With over 25 years’ experience as USCIB’s lead on environment, energy and climate change, Kennedy has been a forceful and respected voice for U.S. business at the UN Rio, Johannesburg, and Rio+20 sustainability conferences, at UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and UN Environment Assembly (UNEA) meetings, all Conferences of the Parties of the UN Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and at the UN High Level Political Forum (HLPF). Kennedy also spearheaded USCIB’s strategic international engagement initiative to advance meaningful business engagement, partnership and regulatory diplomacy across the UN system.

Working from St. Louis and USCIB’s Washington, DC office, Lowry will lead the organization’s policy work on trade, health, food, agriculture, chemicals, and intellectual property. He will also coordinate USCIB’s engagement in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum.

“Brian brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to USCIB, especially his background in working within a multinational corporate entity and with international organizations, that will contribute greatly to our efforts on behalf of members,” said Peter Robinson, USCIB CEO and president. “We are excited to have him join our team at a time when the policy and regulatory issues facing American companies are complex and growing—but also when the innovative capacity of the private sector can contribute so much to solving the global challenges we face today.”

Lowry most recently served in St. Louis as deputy general counsel at Bayer U.S. – Crop Science Division (formerly Monsanto) and headed the Office of Law & Policy. He was responsible for key legal functions and public policy efforts including international trade policy, negotiations, and compliance; multi-lateral undertakings and conventions and UN-related matters; human rights, human resources, and immigration; business conduct, ethics, and anti-corruption; intellectual property policy; and stakeholder and socially responsible investor engagement. Lowry also co-chaired the USCIB working group on the UN Sustainable Development Goals and Post-2015 Development Agenda and was the first board chair of the UN Global Compact Network USA.

In 2017, Lowry was recognized by the Financial Times as one of the six best leading in-house counsel specialists as “The Thought Leader.” In 2011, he was a finalist in the International Law Office Global Counsel Awards, and in 2014, he was recognized as the American Corporate Counsel International Lawyer of the Year. He is regularly engaged in university discussions on food security and business and human rights, and participates in a number of philanthropic, arts and community boards and activities. Lowry has taken advanced studies at Stanford University and Harvard University, and holds degrees from the University of Dayton, BS Education, and Washington University, Juris Doctorate.

Mike Michener

Michener is a former administrator of the U.S. Foreign Agricultural Service who has also served as a U.S. diplomat in Rome and association executive in Brussels; he also worked with the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and the U.S. Agency for International Development, and he served with the United States Army for seven years in Europe.

Robinson said, “We are sorry to see Mike Michener leave us, but happy as always to see USCIB alumni going on to key corporate and governmental positions. And we are fortunate to be able to count on the collaborative leadership of Norine Kennedy and Brian Lowry in advancing opportunities for private sector solutions to critical global issues at a time when multilateralism matters to business.”

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 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 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)

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 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.