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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Business Calls for Better Investment Climate in Africa to Improve People’s Lives and Foster Social Stability

“Creating favorable conditions for foreign and domestic private investment in Africa is essential to provide new engines of growth and employment, which will help improve social conditions,” said Marie Gad, chair of the Africa Group of the Business and Industry Advisory Committee to the OECD (BIAC), USCIB’s affiliate, at a conference in Dakar, Senegal.

Much of Africa has experienced strong growth over past years, but increasing food prices, a lack of jobs (particularly among young people), pervasive corruption and aging infrastructures pose a risk to stability and development. These problems need to be tackled if Africa’s development is to be sustained and strengthened.

At the fifth ministerial conference of the NEPAD-OECD Africa Investment Initiative, Ms. Gad advised ministers that “the large generation of young people in Sub-Saharan Africa is a fantastic resource for development. However, the lack of access to productive employment, together with the difficult economic situation including rising food prices, could lead to social unrest, which would disrupt political and economic stability and deter investors.”

Read more of this story on BIAC’s website

Staff contact: Justine Badimon

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CEO Roundtable on APEC

As part of the APEC Business Coalition, USCIB has the pleasure to extend an invitation for nominations of a member company CEO for the forthcoming State Department CEO Roundtable on APEC, which is scheduled for January 14, 2010.

The roundtable, to be hosted by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, presents an excellent opportunity to interface with 30 top U.S. company CEOs doing business in the APEC area, as well as top-level U.S. government officials.  The secretaries of the treasury, commerce, transportation, energy, and the U.S. trade representative have attended this roundtable in the past.

Please contact Justine Bareford (jbareford@uscib.org) if you would like to put forward your company’s CEO for consideration for this high-level APEC event.  Nominations must be received no later than November 20.

In other APEC news, this year’s APEC CEO Summit will be held November 12-14 in Singapore.  This event will be attended by the world’s top business leaders as well as leaders from many APEC countries.  President Barack Obama is expected to address delegates at the summit as part of his inaugural visit to Asia.  The two-day summit will focus on addressing the economic crisis and key global issues.

USCIB will be represented at the APEC CEO Summit by our consulting director for APEC affairs, Kimberly McLaughlin.

Staff contact: Justine Bareford