Donnelly Offers US Perspectives to Nordic Business Delegation

USCIB joined with the local Washington offices of key international partner business groups, including the Representative of German Industry and Trade RGIT/BDI, CII from India, TUSIAD from Turkey, Keidanren from Japan and CBI from the UK, in a very useful free-wheeling briefing session for a visiting delegation from leading Nordic business associations.

The visiting Nordic delegation included senior representatives from the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise (”SE”), Confederation of Danish Enterprise (“DI”), Confederation of Finnish Industries (“EK”), and Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise (“NHO”), all of which are national committee partners of USCIB in one or more of USCIB’s international groupings of Business at OECD (BIAC), the International Organization of Employers and the International Chamber of Commerce.

Shaun Donnelly, USCIB vice president for investment and financial services, was the only representative in the room from a U.S. trade association, offering American perspectives and explanations for some of the unprecedented current policy developments in the U.S. and globally.

“Our Nordic partner business organizations are generally strong pro-market, pro-liberalization allies for U.S. business globally and, importantly, within the EU,” said Donnelly. “The delegations had met with the usual suspects on the Washington trade scene in their packed three-day visit but, frankly, left town with as many questions as answers. USCIB will continue to work our Nordic partner associations and other allies across our unique global network to advance our key policy objectives.”

USCIB Submits Negotiation Objectives for US-EU Trade Deal

USCIB submitted negotiation objectives for a U.S.-EU Trade Agreement to USTR.
The EU countries together make up the number one export market for the U.S., with goods exports to the EU in 2016 totaling $269.6 billion, constituting 18.6% of total U.S. goods exports.

 

USCIB submitted negotiation objectives for a U.S.-EU Trade Agreement to the United States Trade Representative (USTR) on December 11. The submission was filed in response to USTR’s request for comments and emphasized the importance of a comprehensive negotiation, covering not only market access for goods, but also critical services issues.

The USTR request for comments follows the Trump administration’s announcement to Congress on October 16 of its intention to initiate negotiations on a U.S.-EU Trade Agreement. USCIB supports negotiation of a comprehensive trade agreement with the EU as part of a broader strategy to open international markets for U.S. companies and remove barriers and unfair trade practices in support of U.S. jobs. USCIB priority issues for negotiation of a U.S.-EU agreement include investment, customs and trade facilitation, express delivery services, improved regulatory cohesion, digital trade, intellectual property, government procurement and SOEs, and financial services.

“The EU is an important trade partner for the United States,” said USCIB Senior Director for Investment, Trade and Financial Services Eva Hampl. “USCIB members see the value of common approaches toward establishing a more integrated and barrier-free transatlantic marketplace. Regulatory discrimination and differentiation across the Atlantic is an increasingly frustrating obstacle to trade, investment and the ability to conduct business.”

USCIB supported the negotiations of a comprehensive, high-standard U.S.-EU trade agreement, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), which commenced in 2013 and aspired to eliminate tariff and no-tariff barriers on goods and services trade between the U.S. and the EU. These negotiations were halted by the current administration, but the range of issues that were on the table at the time, ranging from strong investment protections, to increased trade facilitation, and regulatory coherence, continue to be of great importance to our members.

The EU countries together make up the number one export market for the United States, with goods exports to the EU in 2016 totaling $269.6 billion, constituting 18.6% of total U.S. goods exports. U.S. goods and services trade with the EU totaled nearly $1.1 trillion in 2016, with exports totaling $501 billion. The United States also has a surplus in services trade with the EU, totaling $55 billion in 2016. According to Hampl, a successful trade agreement with the EU should cover not just market access for goods, but also address important services issues.

Hampl Moderates Panel on Trade and Corruption in Paris

USCIB Director for Investment, Trade and Financial Services Eva Hampl was in Paris the week of March 26, participating in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) Global Anti-Corruption and Integrity Forum, during which she moderated a panel on “Integrity & Trade: No Need to Grease the Wheels,” which focused on the relationship between trade facilitation and opportunities for corruption at the border.

Other speakers included Senior Trade Policy Analyst at the OECD Evdokia Moise, Policy Director of Trade Negotiations at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Norway Benedicte Fleischer, Capacity Building Director at the World Customs Organization (WCO) Ernani Checcucci, and Director, ABAC Governance and External Engagement at GlaxoSmithKline Gonzalo Guzman. Hampl noted the importance of trade running smoothly for USCIB member companies.

“Corruption is a cost to business and companies invest in compliance systems, however there are limitations to what business can effect internally,” said Hampl. “The customs border presents many opportunities for corruption. One vehicle to address these issues, of course, is the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement. USCIB has been very active in promoting the ratification of the agreement with U.S. FTA partners, as well as within the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC). As always, implementation is the key, and robust implementation is required to achieve the full benefits of the agreement.”

Moise presented preliminary work by the OECD that is being conducted in this space, addressing issues like automation and the relationship to corruption. Following the presentation, panelists and audience participated in a debate to address the various issues surrounding the topic, including transparency, the TFA and other global efforts.

“The general consensus after the panel was that while much is already being done, still more must be achieved, particularly when it comes to collaboration between governments, business, and civil society,” noted Hampl.

Donnelly and Claman Play Key Roles at OECD and BIAC Investment Meetings

Shaun Donnelly speaks at OECD, joined by (on the left) BIAC investment Committee Chair Winand Quaedvlieg of VNO (Netherlands)

Citi Director of International Government Affairs Kimberley Claman joined USCIB Vice President Shaun Donnelly at the recent March 12-13 meetings of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and Business at OECD (BIAC) Investment Committee meetings in Paris.

Claman, a last-minute addition to the wrap-up panel for the OECD’s day-long annual Investment Treaties conference, offered business perspectives on the day’s debates on investment treaties and investment chapters as tools to protect and promote much-needed Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) flows around the world.

After BIAC’s in-house Investment Committee discussions and strategizing on March 13, Donnelly and Claman joined the BIAC delegation, as well as invited labor and civil society “stakeholders,” to participate in the OECD Investment Committee’s discussion of “National Security” provisions and exceptions in Investment agreements.

“This was a very timely topic in light of the Trump Administration’s invocation of ‘national security’ justification for steel and aluminum tariffs,” said Donnelly. “Business took a strong position that national security provisions and especially their ‘self-judging’ nature could be serious threats to the quality of investment treaty disciplines.”

Donnelly joined the Dutch BIAC Investment Committee Chair at the table for formal stakeholder consultations with the OECD Committee, where they outlined BIAC policy priorities and positions, presenting BIAC’s “Proactive Investment Agenda for 2018.”  The day concluded with Claman, Donnelly and the rest of the BIAC Investment leadership hosting an informal working dinner for the OECD’s Investment Committee leadership, a useful off-the-record forum for explanations, probing questions, and candid debate.

“It was a long and challenging couple of days but with challenges growing to investment agreements and especially Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS), it’s critical that USCIB be there standing up for strong investment protections, including effective enforcement/dispute settlement provisions,” noted Donnelly. “We offer special thanks to Kimberley for bringing her unique company and former USG negotiator expertise to the discussions.”

“Illicit Trade” Work Heating up at OECD

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Governance Committee’s Task Force on Illicit Trade is raising its profile and tempo of work and increasing its effort to include the private sector in that workstream.

USCIB Vice President Shaun Donnelly led Business at OECD’s (BIAC) participation in the first of two days of Task Force meetings in Paris on March 15-16 with strong participation from USCIB member companies and other private sector representatives.  Deputy Assistant Secretary at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Christa Brzozowski is one of the two new co-chairs for this OECD Task Force, driving this important OECD work and providing strong senior-level U.S. government leadership.

“Illicit trade is a broad and elastic concept, including but not limited to pirated, counterfeit, “gray market”, and smuggled goods but also illicit movement of arms, drugs, antiquities and endangered species as well as and human trafficking,” commented Donnelly.  “As the OECD steps up its policy and coordination efforts to combat illicit trade, strong, broad and proactive private sector involvement will be essential.  BIAC and its national committees, including USCIB, will play the key role in making this process work.”

Donnelly Offers Business Views on OECD Anti-bribery Convention

USCIB Vice President for Investment Policy Shaun Donnelly represented business on a panel discussion on November 29 marking the 20th anniversary of the OECD’s Anti-Bribery Convention organized in Washington by the Coalition for Integrity, “C4I”.  Donnelly joined senior anti-corruption officials from the OECD secretariat and the World Bank on a panel assessing the progress twenty years after the OECD’s “Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions” and where the convention and OECD’s anti-bribery work might be headed. 

Donnelly, who also serves as a member of the C4I’s Policy Advisory Board, emphasized three points in his comments.  First, while the OECD convention has delivered greater international attention on corrupt practices, much more effort is still needed from many convention member states on enforcement and prosecutions.

Second, the lack of any focus on the “demand side’ of the bribery dynamic, corrupt government officials extorting bribes from business, remains a very serious problem.  “Companies are not the origin of all, or even, most of the bribery in international business, and OECD anti-briery efforts need to recognize those inconvenient realities,” said Donnelly.

Finally, Donnelly urged the OECD’s Bribery Working Group and the Secretariat to open up their closed door proceedings to the established OECD stakeholders, including the Business and Industry Advisory Committee, where USCIB represents U.S. business.   

The C4I program included another panel, focused on the 40th anniversary of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), the landmark U.S. anti-bribery law which really launched government efforts to combat corruption.  That FCPA panel included representatives from the U.S. Department of Justice and the securities and Exchange Commission.   The afternoon panel program was organized around C4I’s annual awards dinner that evening where Senator John McCain received the prestigious “Integrity Award” and the OECD was recognized with a special award for its international leadership on anti-bribery and integrity issues. Donnelly represented USCIB at that awards dinner.

2017 USCIB International Leadership Award Dinner

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NAFTA Briefing Focuses on Importance of Keeping Investor Protections

On August 29, USCIB and the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) co-hosted a very useful briefing on the challenging investment chapter issues in the just-launched NAFTA updating negotiations with senior officials from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR). The USTR lead investment negotiators were joined by other senior USTR officials and a business side of two dozen company and trade association representatives with major concerns about the NAFTA investment chapter, especially the important issue of “Investor-State Dispute Settlement” (ISDS). The business turnout at a short notice meeting in late August is a clear demonstration of the importance that USCIB members and the broader community ascribe to these investment issues. The US negotiating team was heading to Mexico City for the second round in the NAFTA updating negotiations September 1-5.

Most of the meeting consisted of business reps around the table offering their comments, concerns, questions and recommendations regarding USTR’s approach to these investment negotiations. By design, the USTR team did more listening than talking. USCIB and NAM staff led the business comments and were very clear and direct with our concerns and recommendations. We also had broad and strong participation around the table from companies and associations from a wide range of sectors. The key points made by a number of business representatives included:

  • The NAFTA investment chapter has generally worked quite well for U,.S business. We are open to well-crafted proposal to improve the chapter but, as in many other important chapters in NAFTA, our basic watchword will be “first, do no harm.”
  • Business needs a strong investment chapter in NAFTA and in other U.S. Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) and Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs), including high standard core substantive investment protections, broad coverage and definitions to include new forms of foreign direct investment , and, critically, strong ISDS provisions to ensure enforcement.
  • We are quite concerned by recent press report that the Administration might be considering a proposal to make the ISDS enforcement provisions “optional”, whereby each of the three NAFTA government could “opt in” or “opt out” of NAFTA’s ISDS dispute settlement provisions. If a government of governments were to opt out, the only way an aggrieved foreign investor could seek redress would be in the local court system of the host government. USCIB and company and associations reps around the table made clear that such revisions in NAFTA’s investment chapter would be unacceptable.The discussion was, we thought, very useful for all participants and will hopefully provide a model for on-going consultations with USTR on all the key investment issues throughout the negotiations. Members interested in getting more involved in USCIB’s efforts on NAFTA investment issues should contact Shaun Donnelly or Eva Hampl.

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