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

IOE Hosts Digital Conference of COVID Impact on Global Trade, Supply Chains, Employment

The International Organization of Employers’ (IOE) hosted a digital conference on the impact of COVID-19 on global trade, supply chains and employment on April 8. The conference addressed the “pause button” placed on the global economy in efforts to limit the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and endeavored to answer questions such as: whether trade activities will return to normal, how many jobs will be lost, whether companies can continue producing and whether global production chains will be revamped after the crisis.

USCIB Senior Director, Investment Trade and Financial Services Eva Hampl participated as a speaker.

In her comments, Hampl emphasized the importance of maintaining an open trade and investment climate, pointing to these conditions as being necessary to rebuild the economy post crisis.

“USCIB is working with our various partners and affiliates to develop policy that looks toward addressing the current problems, but also retaining the structures that work, and rebuilding those that were affected by the crisis,” said Hampl. “Right now the global economy is still in triage and international cooperation is key at this moment. High level statements like the G20 leaders’ statement committing to work with the World Health Organization (WHO), International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank, United Nations and others to address the crisis, or the World Trade Organization (WTO) and World Customs Organization (WCO) coming together in a joint statement pledging to work together to facilitate trade in essential goods such as medical supplies, food and energy, are necessary and welcome to business at this time. As the global economy deals with this crisis and looks to rebuilding, business will be a key driver and partner of the recovery process.”

Op-Ed: Business Must Come Together to Respond to COVID-19 Now

Op-Ed by Scott C. Ratzan MD, Executive Director of Business Partners for Sustainable Development

Earlier this month, nearly 500 experts in public health, law and human rights wrote an open letter to U.S Vice President Mike Pence to act swiftly, fairly and effectively, warning that “the COVID-19 outbreak is unprecedented in recent American history, and there is no playbook for an epidemiological event of this scope and magnitude.”

Yet, just weeks later, we all are living with unprecedented turmoil from this novel coronavirus, COVID-19.

While the virus was named a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) by the World Health Organization (WHO), this is the seventh time we have had such a proclamation in the last two decades. H1N1 influenza, polio, ebola in West Africa and in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zika, all abated and did not cause as much havoc. Financial markets are on a roller coaster, planes grounded and many of us sheltering in place or in a self-imposed or government-recommended quarantine.

The future of our public health and economy depend on how government officials, policymakers, leaders and our fellow citizens react.

This includes honest, coherent, transparent, and timely communication while providing adequate funding and support for the response. The health care system needs immediate resources for equitable and effective infection control and the means to effectively manage the disease.

As 24/7 news, interactive websites, social media and alerts fill our day, the virus continues to spread. Unfortunately, without a clear treatment or cure, fear and uncertainty results in a rich environment for misinformation and misguided actions.

COVID-19 is a test of our system’s ability to address a legitimate public health threat with an unknown trajectory. Multiple sectors must leverage knowledge, expertise, networks and resources to produce better public health outcomes. Being prepared with a plan and being proactive is the name of the game in prevention, mitigation and management of risk and the adverse consequences of any threat.

Business must play a critical role in planning, implementing and adapting to this crisis due to its wide reach, resources and impact on employees, partners and markets.

Communication from employers on coronavirus is the most credible source of information, according to a recent Edelman ten-country study (March 6-10). This is consistent with a 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer, which showed that “my employer” is the most trusted institution by 18 points over business in general and NGOs, and by 27 points over government and media.

Employers are central in communicating the response. The public needs the assurance that as more is learned, information will be shared accurately and clearly from sources they trust.

This emergent threat challenges our society to cooperate amongst all sectors, including government, media, technology platforms and the private sector.

We know that large scale communication campaigns that employ behavioral economics, health literacy and communication levers (mass and social media) can drive citizens toward healthier decisions. As COVID-19 continues to spread, the business sector’s historical hallmarks of innovation, efficiency and management can help address the challenge we face today.

There are some promising examples:

  • A COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator supported by Mastercard will join with the WHO, government and private sector funders and organizations to speed the response to the COVID-19 epidemic by identifying, assessing, developing and scaling-up treatments.
  • The USCIB is leveraging existing networks to catalyze partnerships to address challenges, such as COVID-19. This includes working with the International Organization of Employers (IOE) and the International Labor Organization (ILO) to distribute WHO guidance on simple and low-cost measures for creating a healthier and more productive workplace.
  • The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and Business at OECD (BIAC) are also working on the design of an action plan to reach millions of businesses with recommendations to help governments deal with the threat to the global economy.
  • The Global NGO Business Fights Poverty is collaborating with Business Partners for Sustainable Development (BPSD) to develop an online “challenge” discussion on how business should tackle the coronavirus challenge.
  • NBCUniversal, Viacom/CBS, iHeartMedia, The Atlantic, Disney/ABC Television and the Ad Council will donate advertising inventory for campaigns that will advise consumers about social distancing, steps that can be taken to protect the public and more.

While the WHO was established to advance “informed opinion and active cooperation on the part of the public” we have now learned that health issues are not confined to one organization or sector.

Only by working together, with the public and private sectors, we can advance a society where our livelihoods are not threatened by similar future outbreaks and create a resilient society capable of responding to any future threat we may face.

Scott C. Ratzan MD is Executive Director of Business Partners for Sustainable Development. He is Former Senior Fellow at Harvard Kennedy School Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government.

USCIB Commends Phase 1 China Deal, Urges Further Negotiations

Washington, D.C., January 15, 2020 – The United States Council for International Business (USCIB), which represents many of America’s leading global companies, welcomes the signing of a Phase One deal with China today in Washington.

China continues to be an important market for U.S. business, and we recognize the progress on food and agricultural export opportunities in this agreement. It also addresses issues related to resolving intellectual property theft and forced technology transfer, which negatively affect the global competitiveness of our companies, but more remains to be done to ensure American companies are afforded a level playing field in China.

USCIB continues to support a comprehensive, high-standard deal that that holds China accountable for complying with their international obligations, vigorously pursuing a level playing field overseas, while avoiding policies that undermine U.S. industry competitiveness. We look forward to studying the details of this initial Phase One deal, and to a next phase of negotiations to address remaining issues, including removing the harmful tariffs that have been imposed on both sides.

In addition to working directly with China, we also continue to urge the Administration to work closely with allies to address many of these concerns on fundamental Chinese policies and practices. We are therefore pleased that the United States is continuing to work with the European Union and Japan toward that goal, exemplified by the cabinet-level meetings this week in Washington.

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, generating $5 trillion in annual revenues and employing over 11 million people worldwide. As the U.S. affiliate of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), the International Organization of Employers, and Business at OECD (known as BIAC), USCIB helps to provide 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.

UN Climate Talks: Prominent Business Group Holds Dialogue, Welcomes New Members

USCIB’s Norine Kennedy

As in previous years, USCIB joined its global business partners to hold a Major Economies Business Forum (BizMEF) Business Dialogue during a United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) conference. This year’s UNFCCC 25th Conference of the Parties (COP25) is taking place in Madrid, Spain under the Chilean presidency.

This year’s Business Dialogue was hosted by the Spanish Confederation of Employers (CEOE) on December 8. Reaching an important milestone, this year’s Dialogue commemorated twenty-five years of business cooperation and involvement in the UN climate process. The latest Dialogue served as an important forum of discussion for emerging issues and institutional changes that are necessary to mobilize business knowhow and resources at every stage of climate policy and action.

BizMEF Business Dialogue at COP25

Senior government representatives of Chile, the European Commission, France, Japan, and the United Kingdom joined World Trade Organization (WTO), International Organization of Employers (IOE) and UNFCCC speakers at the Dialogue to share perspectives on integrated policy options inside and outside the UN climate process.

“We are here to mark this as what it must be – a turning point and inspiration to do even more and better, as well as involve more companies of all sectors sizes and nationalities on board,” said USCIB Vice President of Strategic International Engagement, Energy and Environment Norine Kennedy.

BizMEF members include major national and regional multi-sectoral business groups in developed and developing countries.  At the COP25 Business Dialogue, BizMEF welcomed two new partner organizations: CEOE and the Santiago Chamber of Commerce. USCIB serves as the Secretariat for BizMEF.

Please refer to USCIB’s COP25 Statement for more information on USCIB’s climate policy position.

USCIB Represents US Business Views at UN Climate Talks

The 25th United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties (COP) is in the home stretch, as Ministers meet in Madrid to seek political compromise on carbon markets and offsets, as well as to set the stage for pledges of deeper cuts in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

According to USCIB Vice President for Strategic International Engagement, Energy and Environment Norine Kennedy, who is reporting from the field, a fundamental goal of COP25 is to complete unfinished business from the previous year, specifically as it relates to the Paris Agreement and its provisions for carbon markets and offsets, often referred to as “Article 6”.

“Avoiding double-counting crediting for carbon sinks and determining whether a percentage of the value of carbon trade transactions will be allocated to developing countries are two unresolved issues for the business community here at COP25,” said Kennedy. She also noted that the validity of the Kyoto Protocol’s carbon “currency” to the new Paris Agreement carbon regime is also under development.

An additional imperative is the need for deeper and faster cuts in GHG emissions that are required to limit temperature rise to 1.5 degrees, and to get on track to a proposed 2050 net-carbon neutrality objective.

Additional issues yet to be resolved, but are closely being monitored by USCIB, are common timeframes to be covered by voluntary national GHG reduction pledges, known as NDCs, financial support to developing countries for GHG reductions and technology cooperation, as well as how to treat compensation for loss and damage from climate change-related impacts.

Over 30,000 are attending this COP, including Michael Bloomberg, Al Gore, John Kerry, Harrison Ford and other prominent figures have joined high-level government representatives, UN agencies and NGOs.

USCIB’s delegation, led by Kennedy and USCIB Policy Associate Claudia Herbert Colfer, included member representatives from Arkema, Bayer, Chevron, Mars and Novozymes. USCIB has been tracking the complex discussions, meeting with U.S. and other government delegations and partnering with key business groups.

The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) serves as focal point for business, convening daily business briefings to share intelligence and organizing the UNFCCC Business Day, which took place on December 6.

The two-week COP began on December 2, and will run through December 13, under the Presidency of Chile. COP25 was moved to Madrid, Spain following civil unrest in Chile.

USCIB Statement: 25th UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of the Parties

COP25 in Madrid, Spain
Photo credit: UNFCCC

USCIB issued the following statement on December 6 for the 25th United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Conference of the Parties (COP25). The statement reflects U.S. business priorities.

For the 25th year, USCIB is participating in deliberations of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Madrid. USCIB joins with many others in highlighting the critical importance of inclusive multilateralism as a means to increase pace and impact to meet climate commitments and objectives, involving all societal partners, including the private sector. Economic policies that drive growth and create jobs in the green economy will be critical to generate the necessary resources and enable business to make its strongest contributions to implementation of the UNFCCC and its Paris Agreement, and to sustainable development.

Since its conclusion in Paris in 2015, USCIB has supported the Paris Agreement. USCIB recognizes and expresses its deep appreciation to U.S. delegations for attending and engaging responsively with U.S. business at UNFCCC meetings. We continue to encourage the Administration to remain at the Paris Agreement table to advance and defend U.S. environmental protection, economic growth, innovation and competitiveness, as it has done consistently in the UNFCCC since COP1.

USCIB recognizes that urgent action to tackle climate change is needed on all fronts. According to the IPCC, reducing future climate-related risks in the context of sustainable development will depend on the upscaling and acceleration of far-reaching climate mitigation and both incremental and transformational adaptation. In this regard, business investment, innovation and action, working in partnership with governments, society and other stakeholders will be vital.

We continue to call for the commitment of all governments to this global effort, so that business and government can work together to enact economically sound policies that:

  • Promote development, deployment and use of cleaner and more efficient technologies and energy sources
  • Enhance sustainable energy access and security in all countries
  • Utilize markets and market-based approaches to animate least-cost GHG reductions, working through multilateral trade
  • Drive investment in innovation for mitigation and adaption
  • Seek to strengthen synergy across multilateral trade, investment and climate policy frameworks

As we work to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement, we need to include all of society’s stakeholders working together towards a sustainable path for communities, workers and the climate that leaves no one behind. Of particular importance will be government education and training policies that are inclusive and support workers and their communities in securing the skills, capabilities and investments needed to thrive in the face of transformative change.

We share the concern about the need for more rapid and widespread progress toward the Paris goals, and encourage renewed efforts to get back on track, in particular with relation to Article 6.

We welcome ambitious aspirations on the part of organizations and companies and look forward to mobilizing the best of business forward in addressing this critical global challenge, delivering energy access and security, job creation and shared economic prosperity.

USCIB Discusses International Environmental Policy With EPA Administrator 

L-R: USCIB VP Norine Kennedy, U.S. EPA Administrator Andrew R. Wheeler, USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson

As the 74th United Nations General Assembly High Level Session got underway, USCIB members met with the U.S. Environment Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew R. Wheeler to discuss advancing U.S. business innovation and investment towards transboundary environmental challenges.

The meeting was a unique opportunity for USCIB members to engage with the Administrator on U.S. business priorities for international environmental engagement and public private partnerships while advancing economic prosperity and environmental stewardship at home and abroad.

“We needy enabling conditions for dialogue and partnership with the private sector in the multilateral system,” stressed USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson during his welcoming remarks. “Therefore, we do need to remove barriers to some business sectors in some parts of UN system – USCIB is working on this, and we would welcome EPA’s support in this area too,” he added.

Wheeler’s remarks focused on current environmental priorities for the EPA, such as the global water crisis, which he noted must be tackled through improving access to safe drinking water, strengthening infrastructure and preventing plastic debris from reaching oceans. Wheeler also emphasized global challenges and EPA involvement to tackle food waste.

“USCIB members had an opportunity to share perspectives on the kinds of partnerships that business and EPA can collaborate on to find solutions to global challenges, in addition to discussing the necessary infrastructure investments that are needed,” said USCIB Vice President for Strategic International Engagement, Energy and Environment Norine Kennedy.

New OECD Reports Outlines Business Investment Contribution to SDGs

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has recently published a report on “The Contribution of International Business Investment to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).” The report surveys the main type of financing behind business investment in developing countries, recent trends, an evaluation of the contribution of these flows to the SDGs, and prospects going forward.

The report highlights that multinational enterprises (MNEs) have become one of the most important actors for channeling investment to the developing countries. A relatively new actor providing financing for development is the State-Owned Enterprise (SOE). Furthermore, mergers and acquisitions (M&A) is one of the primary vehicles that MNEs use to invest in foreign markets and a major component of foreign direct investment. M&A inflows in developing countries starting declining already in 2012.

An increasingly important source of international investment into developing countries is China; in 2017 China doubled its M&A in developing countries to $25 billion, making it their top resource of international M&A (ahead of Japan and the US). Meanwhile, private flows align naturally with the SDGs in the area of infrastructure: SDG 6, which focuses on clean water and sanitation), SDG 7 on affordable and clean energy, SDG 9 on industry, innovation and infrastructure, and SDG 10 which aims to reduce inequalities.

“The report calls to action for improving the global rules for trade and investment, pursuing domestic policy reform agenda to improve business climates, and addressing new areas of regulatory co-operation,” observed USCIB Senior Director for Investment, Trade and Financial Services Eva Hampl.

The OECD will be organizing a round table on investment and sustainable development on October 23, 2019, as part of the next OECD Investment Week.