USCIB Members Play Active Role on OECD’s Illicit Trade During COVID Panel

The OECD Task Force on Countering Illicit Trade hosted a webinar on April 23—”Illicit Trade at the Time of Crisis.” In advance of the webinar, USCIB worked closely with Business at OECD (known as BIAC) and the OECD Secretariat on developing a robust panel dedicated to the BIAC Anti-Illicit Trade Expert Group (AITEG) and the good work of the AITEG and USCIB on illicit trade in the COVID-19 crisis environment.

“As the U.S. affiliate for Business at OECD, USCIB has been working closely with BIAC on anti-illicit trade matters since the establishment of our Anti-Illicit Trade Committee (AITC) in 2018,” said Director for Customs and Trade Facilitation Megan Giblin.

In addition to statements by BIAC’s Anti-Illicit Trade Expert Group chair and vice chair, the panel was rounded out by USCIB member representatives; Pfizer’s Senior Director David Shore, who leads the Europe, Middle East and Africa regional Global Security Team, as well as Amazon’s Senior Public Policy Manager Chris Oldknow, who discussed counterfeiting and intellectual property in Europe and gave poignant remarks on Pfizer and Amazon’s, respective, efforts on illicit trade in the COVID environment.

Prior to the webinar, BIAC published a statement, “Illicit Trade in Context of COVID-19 and Future Pandemics,” which was widely shared with webinar participants and built off earlier contributions of the work of the OECD Task Force.

USCIB’s AITC is chaired by David Luna of Luna Global Networks and vice-chaired by Fernando Pena of DHL. Luna also chairs the recently elevated BIAC AITEG, which is vice-chaired by Alvise Giustiniani of PMI.

USCIB Congratulates Colombia on Formally Becoming OECD Member

Pictured from left: Iván Duque Márquez, President of the Republic of Colombia and Angel Gurría, Secretary-General of the OECD (Photo: OECD/Victor Tonelli)

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) announced that Colombia has formally become an OECD Member as of April 28, 2020. Colombia is the 37th country to do so in the Organization’s near 60-year history.

According to the OECD, Colombia has now completed its domestic procedures for ratification of the OECD Convention and deposited its instrument of accession. This brings to a successful conclusion an accession process that began in 2013.

“Colombia is an important market for many companies, and we commend Colombia on successfully concluding this lengthy process and committing to the high standards of the OECD,” said USCIB Senior Director for Trade, Investment and Financial Services Eva Hampl. As the official voice representing U.S. business in this process, USCIB was actively involved in providing input into Colombia’s accession process via Business at OECD (BIAC), the official business voice at the OECD.

OECD Member countries formally invited Colombia to join the Organization in May 2018, following a five-year accession process during which it underwent in-depth reviews by twenty-three OECD Committees and introduced major reforms to align its legislation, policies and practices to OECD standards. These spanned the breadth of policy fields including labor issues, reform of the justice system, corporate governance of state-owned enterprises, anti-bribery, trade, and the establishment of a national policy on industrial chemicals and waste management.

Michener Shares USCIB’s COVID-19 Response with ICC Americas Group

At a recent virtual meeting of the ICC Americas group, USCIB Vice President for Product Policy and Innovation Mike Michener discussed USCIB’s response to the COVID-19 crisis, which first and foremost, is to continue important functions as the entire USCIB team works from home in the New York and Washington metro areas.

“We are still representing member interests in multilateral institutions while highlighting individual company responses in tandem with international organizations, and featuring the important work of global affiliates such as International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), as well as the International Organization of Employers (IOE) and Business at OECD (known as BIAC),” said Michener.

According to Michener, USCIB is also flexing its institutional muscle as a thought leader in the nexus between business and the multilateral system, publishing op-eds and press releases, and promoting partnerships with international organizations through its new venture Business Partners for Sustainable Development (BPSD).

Michener outlined how USCIB is fulfilling its function in representing member interests through virtual events; all committee meetings have been converted into a virtual format and USCIB continues to engage with global partners on events, such as the one held on April 29 with the UN Department for Economic and Social Affairs on SDG 17 & Public-Private Partnerships: COVID-19 Response & Recovery in the Framework of the 2030 Agenda.

“We are proud to share the work being done related to COVID-19 across the world by our global network of affiliates on our web page, in particular focusing on ICC’s partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO), the ICC campaign to Save our MSMEs and ICC actions via the G20,” added Michener.

USCIB continues to spotlight what member companies are doing to address the COVID-19 crisis; featured companies include ExxonMobil, Qualcomm, Procter & Gamble, Nike, SAP, Google, Amazon, Apple, CenturyLink, IBM, AT&T, Pfizer, Hewlett-Packard, Intel, Mastercard, Salesforce, Microsoft and HanesBrand, with additional spotlights in the pipeline.

More information can be found on this web page: Ensuring Business Continuity During COVID-19

Op-Ed Dispels Myths of Business “Conflict of Interest” at UN

As the annual United Nations General Assembly is underway in New York this week and next, USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson contributed a timely op-ed in The Hill, titled “UN’s private-sector phobia prevents if from hitting its lofty goals.”

“It is increasingly evident that the international community is not on track to deliver the expected results under the Paris Agreement (as well as the broader U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change) or the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals,” writes Robinson. “So why, at a moment when governments and international organizations should be actively seeking ways to encourage business to step up, is the private sector being accused of having a ‘conflict of interest’ or of actively seeking to upend global consensus?”

Robinson points out that accusations of conflict of interest are rampant across UN agencies, including the World Health Organization and in the context of the UN climate talks. He then outlines six “myths” about business influence in international policy-making and dispels them one by one.

To read the full op-ed, please visit The Hill.

 

Colombia on Track to Becoming Full OECD Member

Colombia FlagColombia is currently engaged in the formal accession process to become a full member of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). As OECD committees review Colombia’s status, sharing OECD best practices and standards as well as helping to identify areas for further reforms, the Business and Industry Advisory Committee (BIAC) developed a statement on Colombia’s accession discussion, which has been submitted this month to the OECD Secretariat and relevant bodies.

The statement provides business perspectives on Colombia’s readiness for OECD membership, analyzing the country’s market access, corporate governance, labor market reform, anti-corruption and pharmaceutical and health care issues.

Economic projections for Colombia point to a positive outlook, characterized by a high growth rate of 4.2 percent, falling unemployment and the lowest level of inflation in more than 50 years. But despite Colombia’s impressive economic rise – due in large part to the country’s strong reform agenda – challenges remain that need to be addressed in order to ensure the sustainability of its growth trajectory, according to the BIAC statement.

BIAC and the National Business Association of Colombia recommend the following reform priorities for the country’s accession to the OECD: “The development of Colombia’s capital markets; an improved education system that meets labor market needs; greater commitment to implementing trade agreements and greater efficiency in customs; a level playing field for competition; increased investment in science, technology and innovation; reduced costs for transportation and logistics; and significant efforts to reduce tax evasion and informality.”

BIAC asserts that Colombia’s accession process represents a critical opportunity to disseminate OECD instruments, standards and good policy practices to one of Latin America’s leading economies, while also allowing Colombia to share its policy experiences with OECD member countries.

Staff contact: Justine Badimon

Russia and the Way to OECD Accession

Russia has made the important achievements on its road for becoming an OECD member since the beginning of accession discussions in 2007. As BIAC has laid out in a 2012 paper Improving the Russian Business Environment, significant results have been achieved by the Russian authorities to align with OECD membership requirements (e.g., adhesion to the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention). Russia now continues to go through the examination of various OECD committees and bodies, and BIAC is actively taking part in this process. In particular, BIAC members were involved in the Market Openness Review which was conducted by the OECD Trade Committee and in the review conducted by the OECD Environment Committee.

On May 14, the BIAC Task Force on Russia convened for the first time at OECD headquarters in Paris to discuss Russia’s accession to the OECD and the Russian Presidency of the G20 with the OECD secretariat. BIAC members underlined that significant process has been made, but that more needs to be done to ensure open markets for trade and investment, fair competition policy and effective rule of law. Business especially remains concerned about the lack of implementation and enforcement of rules in Russia. BIAC will continue the close dialogue with OECD and BIAC’s Russian observer RSPP, and will organize a meeting to be held in Russia next spring to that end.

Staff contact: Justine Badimon

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Business Welcomes Adoption of Russia Trade Bill

4411_image001New York, N.Y., December 6, 2012 – The United States Council for International Business (USCIB) applauded today’s passage by the Senate of legislation to establish permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) with Russia.

“We welcome the Senate’s approval and urge President Obama to sign the measure as soon as possible,” said USCIB President and CEO Peter M. Robinson. “Since Russia joined the World Trade Organization in August, American companies have been at a competitive disadvantage in this important and fast-growing market.”

Once signed, the PNTR bill will sweep away outdated trade restrictions imposed on the then-Soviet Union in the 1970s under the Jackson-Vanik amendment. Russia is the world’s ninth-largest economy, but ranks only 31st as a market for U.S. goods exports.

With Russia also looking to join the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the business community is looking to work with the U.S. government and others to further open Russia’s economy to foreign trade and investment, Robinson said.

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. With a unique global network encompassing leading international business organizations, USCIB provides 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.

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USCIB Applauds House Passage of Russia Trade Bill

4405_image001New York, N.Y., November 16, 2012 – The United States Council for International Business (USCIB) welcomed the House of Representatives’ passage today of legislation to establish permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) with Russia.

“This is a long-overdue step to secure U.S. access to the growing Russian marketplace,” said USCIB President and CEO Peter M. Robinson. “Russia joined the World Trade Organization in August, and in the intervening time, U.S. companies have been at a competitive disadvantage as the country opens up new opportunities for foreign trade and investment. We urge the Senate to swiftly approve PNTR legislation.”

Passage of PNTR is required to lift trade restrictions on Russia under the 1970s-era Jackson-Vanik amendment, which has been deemed to violate WTO rules.

Robinson noted that Russia is also taking steps to join the 34-nation Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which would entail additional steps to open Russia to foreign trade and investment. Through its membership in BIAC, the Business and Industry Advisory Committee to the OECD, USCIB is working to advise the OECD and its member governments on appropriate terms for Russian entry into the organization, and is assessing the potential impact for U.S. 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. With a unique global network encompassing leading international business organizations, USCIB provides 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.

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Business Presses Capitol Hill to Act Now on Russia Trade Act

russia usa jigsawLast week, USCIB and other top business associations joined in pressing top Congressional leadership to swiftly pass legislation that would enable U.S. firms to compete on an equal footing in Russia as that country joins the World Trade Organization.

In a letter to House Speaker John Boehner, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, the industry groups urged the leadership to work together to pass Russia PNTR (permanent normal trade relations) legislation this month.

“This legislation, which is the top trade priority for the business community this year, is needed to give U.S. manufacturers, farmers, and service providers a fair chance to compete and sell more of their goods and services to Russia,” stated the letter signed by USCIB President and CEO Peter M. Robinson and the nine other business association heads.

Underscoring that Russia is now a WTO member as of August 22, the business leaders stressed that, “more than 150 WTO countries – except the United States – can now fully benefit from much better access to the Russian marketplace and important new WTO rights, including stronger IP protections, greater transparency, and recourse to the WTO’s dispute settlement procedures if Russia fails to meet its commitments.”

By contrast, they noted, “the United States will not have the same WTO rights and economic opportunities until Congress passes Russia PNTR.  This creates business uncertainty for U.S. companies seeking to expand in the Russian market and also gives foreign competitors a significant advantage in securing new sales and contracts there.”

In addition to USCIB, the letter was signed by the heads of the American Farm Bureau Federation, Business Roundtable, Coalition of Services Industries, Emergency Committee for American Trade, Information Technology Industry Council, National Association of Manufacturers, National Foreign Trade Council, U.S. Chamber of Commerce and U.S.-Russia Business Council.

Staff contact: Rob Mulligan

Business association letter on Russia PNTR

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Business Cheers as Senate Panel Green-Lights Russia Trade Bill

capitolNew York, N.Y., July 19, 2012 The United States Council for International Business (USCIB) welcomed the Senate Finance Committee’s approval of legislation to establish permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) with Russia.

“This is a critical first step in securing U.S. access to an important emerging market,” said USCIB President and CEO Peter M. Robinson.  “As Russia joins the World Trade Organization, it is opening up many new opportunities for foreign trade and investment, but the U.S. will miss out on these and be at a disadvantage versus our competitors if we do not adopt PNTR.  We urge swift consideration by the full Senate, and passage by both houses of Congress before the August recess.”

Russia’s upper house of parliament has voted to ratify entry into the WTO.  The country will become the WTO’s 156th member 30 days after Russian President Vladimir Putin approves the measure, and will begin cutting import tariffs and opening up large sectors of its economy to foreign investment.  Passage of PNTR is required to lift trade restrictions on Russia under the 1970s-era Jackson-Vanik amendment, which have been deemed to violate WTO rules.

Robinson noted that Russia is also taking steps to join the 34-nation Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which would entail additional steps to open Russia to foreign trade and investment.  Through its membership in BIAC, the Business and Industry Advisory Committee to the OECD, USCIB is working to advise the OECD and its member governments on appropriate terms for Russian entry into the organization, and is assessing the potential impact for U.S. 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.  With a unique global network encompassing leading international business organizations, USCIB provides 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.

Contact:

Jonathan Huneke, VP communications, USCIB
(212) 703-5043 or jhuneke@uscib.org

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