USCIB Geneva Week-Business in Society: Shared Values

USCIB will hold its second annual Geneva Week trip for members and prospects May 6-10, 2019 under the theme: “Business in Society: Shared Values.” 

USCIB is pleased to announce that meetings with the following organizations are now confirmed: U.S. Mission, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Trade Organization (WTO). Additional meetings will be confirmed in the coming weeks. Please check this page for updates.

The purpose of Geneva Week is to generate valuable conversations and connections between the U.S. business community and UN Agencies, Missions to the UN-Geneva, and other important Permanent Representatives in Geneva. It is a week-long opportunity to:

  • highlight your company’s work and policy priorities in the areas of health care, intellectual property, nutrition and sustainability;
  • demonstrate business’ commitment and contributions towards shared goals; and
  • raise any key concerns you may have regarding the intersection of international policy making and global business.

USCIB’s targets for interactions include senior management from several Geneva-based UN Agencies and Permanent Missions, including:

Agencies Include:

  • The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)
  • The World Health Organization (WHO)
  • UN Environment’s Chemicals and Wastes division

Missions Include:

  • U.S. Mission to the UN
  • Australian Mission to the UN
  • Brazilian Mission to the UN
  • Canadian Mission to the UN
  • EU Mission to the UN
  • Japanese Mission to the UN
  • UK Mission to the UN

Our desired outcome from the week is to build and strengthen relationships in support of continued and ongoing communication between Geneva-based institutions and the business community, as well as to ensure that UN Agencies and Missions clearly understand:

  • Our shared values – how and where the synergies and areas of cooperation exist between business and multi-lateral institutions – and
  • Our concerns regarding business access and business’ license to operate

Participation in USCIB’s Geneva Week is by invitation only, and costs a fee of $750.00. As spaces are limited, please contact Mia Lauter (mlauter@uscib.org) to RSVP or to receive more information.

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.

USCIB Gathers Stakeholders to Discuss OECD Digital Project 

USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson at the 2019 Going Digital Conference

The OECD Summit on Going Digital, held March 11-12 in Paris, presented the main findings and policy messages of the OECD’s two-year Going Digital Project. In light of this milestone, USCIB teamed up with the OECD and Business at OECD to organize an event in Washington DC on March 25 bringing together over fifty representatives from U.S. government, the private sector and press to discuss outcomes and next steps.

The March 25 Conference, hosted by the AT&T Forum for Technology, Entertainment and Policy, introduced the Going Digital Toolkit and included in-depth discussions on indicators, experiences and innovative policy practices, particularly as they relate to economic growth and societal well-being, privacy, security against cyber-threats, as well as harnessing the power of Artificial Intelligence (AI) for economic and social prosperity.

Corporate Vice President and Deputy General Counsel of Microsoft and Co-Chair of the Business at OECD Committee on Digital Economy Policy Julie Brill gave opening remarks, praising the OECD project. “The global digital project will serve as a foundation for policymakers around the world to ensure that the technological revolution is a catalyst for inclusive growth that benefits all,” said Brill. “The timing couldn’t be more appropriate or more important.”

Common themes that emerged among panelists and participants included emphasis on economies to invest in people through increased access to STEM training, innovative use of apprenticeships and skills-based training and retraining programs to ensure that the work force is adaptable and is prepared for the challenges of the future. There was also consensus on the need to reduce barriers to promote AI innovation and application to realize more of the potential of AI in providing new opportunities and even creating new sectors of industries. At the same time, governments need to establish principles to ensure public trust and confidence in AI technologies.

“The OECD undertook the Going Digital Project at a time when other multilateral organizations and individual countries were responding to the digital transformation of the economy in a way that undermined the potential economy and societal benefits,” said Barbara Wanner, USCIB vice president for ICT policy. “USCIB members appreciate how the OECD has navigated the plethora of conflicting views and developed sound, evidence-based recommendations that can guide countries and organizations to benefits of digital innovation. We look forward to shaping the all-important Phase 2 of the project, which will focus on practical steps.”

OECD’s Andy Wyckoff

Other speakers at the conference included OECD Director for Science Technology and Innovation Andy Wyckoff, Director for International Communications, Information, and Emerging Technologies from the U.S. Department of State Adam Lusin as well as The White House Assistant Director for Artificial Intelligence, Office of Science and Technology Lynne Parker.

The day-long event titled, Going Digital: OECD Insights for a Changing World, was dedicated to the late Joseph Alhadeff and commemorated his decades-long leadership and contribution to the ICT space both domestically and globally. Alhadeff was a long-time USCIB supporter, colleague and mentor who served on the USCIB Board and was a Vice Chair of the USCIB ICT Policy Committee for over 15 years.

USCIB Talks Intellectual Property Rights at State Department 

USCIB Vice Presidents Mike Michener and Shaun Donnelly met with the U.S. Department of State team handling Intellectual Property rights (IPR), counterfeiting and piracy and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) on March 21 in Washington DC.  Department of State experts from both the Economic and Business (EB) Bureau and the International Organizations (IO) Bureau reviewed U.S. government policy priorities, management concerns and upcoming challenges across the IPR agenda.

EB’s Office of Intellectual Property Enforcement focuses on substantive IPR issues, including a lot of interagency coordination.  The IO Bureau’s Office of Specialized and Technical Agencies focuses more specifically on the institutional, budget and management issues around WIPO.

“WIPO remains a mixed bag for the U.S. government as it does for industry – some useful work but also some deep frustrations whether WIPO is really a strong advocate and enforcer of IPR policies or more of ‘development organization’ more intent on justifying exceptions to strong IPR rules and regulations,” noted Donnelly.

At the meeting, Michener, who leads USCIB’s policy work on intellectual property and innovation, discussed USCIB’s priorities on IPR issues and plans to take a team of member companies for a series of high level meetings at WIPO as part of USCIB’s “Geneva Week”  May 6-10.

“USCIB and especially our IPR Committee will stay in close touch with State and other key U.S. government agencies on the full range of important issues,” said Michener.

Donnelly Visits Google During Trade Tour in Switzerland

USCIB Vice President for Investment and Financial Services Shaun Donnelly spent the week of March 4 as the business representative on a Washington Think Tank study tour of Switzerland, focusing on trade issues and possibilities for a potential U.S.-Switzerland Free Trade Agreement (FTA).

While in Zurich, Donnelly and the 12-member study tour visited Google Switzerland’s major operations and R&D center. Google’s Zurich operations are the company’s third-largest R&D operation globally and their largest outside the United States. Google opened its first office in Zurich only fifteen years ago and it has quickly grown into one of the largest and most respected employers in the city.

Coincident with the study tour’s visit, Google invited the leadership of economiesuisse, Switzerland’s largest and most influential business association to a luncheon meeting with the visiting Washington team. Economiesuisse is USCIB’s Swiss counterpart and partner in Business at OECD, the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and other international business fora.

Hampl Gives Testimony on US-UK Trade Agreement

Eva Hampl provided testimony before the Trade Policy Staff Committee, chaired by USTR, on January 29.
USCIB supports negotiation of a comprehensive trade agreement with the UK 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.

 

Following USCIB’s submission on January 16 to USTR regarding negotiating objectives for a U.S.-UK Trade Agreement, USCIB Senior Director for Investment, Trade and Financial Services Eva Hampl provided testimony before the Trade Policy Staff Committee, chaired by USTR, on January 29.

“USCIB supports negotiation of a comprehensive trade agreement with the UK 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,” said Hampl in her testimony. “We strongly believe that continued U.S.-UK free trade is overwhelmingly in the interests of both countries and their global trading partners, provided that the agreement is a high standard and comprehensive bilateral trade and investment agreement. A successful trade agreement with the UK should cover not just market access for goods, but also address important services issues.”

Hampl’s testimony also emphasized the importance of regulatory cohesion across the United States, the UK and the European market as a key component in further liberalizing trade. Regulatory discrimination and differentiation between trade partners can be an obstacle to trade, investment and the ability to conduct business. Affected sectors include pharmaceuticals, chemicals and fintech.

Hampl also raised the issue of digital trade. “U.S. companies rely on cross-border data flows as part of their day-to-day operations,” said Hampl. “A U.S.-UK agreement should include requirements that data can flow unimpeded across borders except for limited and well-defined public policy exceptions, ensuring that they are not used as disguised barriers to trade.”

Regarding intellectual property (IP) protection, Hampl noted that at a minimum, a U.S.-UK agreement should enshrine existing protections and enforcement mechanisms. It should also address sectoral IP issues, such as in the pharmaceutical space.

To read Hampl’s testimony, please click here.

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.

Update from the Field: Hunting for “Landing Zones” at Climate Change Conference in Poland

Norine Kennedy at COP24
COP24 is to finalize a so-called Paris Rulebook, which will provide implementation guidance on how countries put the Paris Agreement into action.
Crucial to business will be outcomes on carbon markets.

 

The 24th UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of the Parties (UNFCCC COP24) began on Sunday, December 2 and will run through December 14 under the Presidency of Poland, in Katowice, Poland.  On Saturday night, the negotiating groups delivered a first round of outcomes to be taken up by the Ministers arriving for the 2nd week.  Many key business issues remain incomplete or “in brackets” in the current draft “Paris Rulebook,” intended to guide putting the Paris Agreement into action.  For the week ahead, high level government representatives will be seeking “landing zones” to resolve remaining substantial divisions.

Over 30,000 are in attendance here, including USCIB members Arkema, Chevron, Mars, Novozymes and Salesforce, joining USCIB staff Norine Kennedy and Mia Lauter in tracking the complex discussions, meeting with U.S. and other government delegations and partnering with key business groups.  Here in Katowice, the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) serves as focal point for business, convening daily meetings to share intelligence and organizing the UNFCCC Business Day on December 6.

Sticking topics have included provision of how to treat compensation for loss and damage, financial support to developing countries for greenhouse gas reductions and technology cooperation, the design of elements relating to carbon markets and different rules and practices that would apply to developing and developed countries. Delegates are talking about the IPCC1.5 Special Report, worrying increases in greenhouse gas emissions and tensions in France sparked by the proposed fuel tax, since rescinded by the Government of France.

COP24 is to finalize a so-called Paris Rulebook, which will provide implementation guidance on how countries put the Paris Agreement into action.

“So far, negotiations have proceeded predictably, albeit too slowly to conclude in time,” observed Kennedy, who leads USCIB policy work on the environment and climate change. “The complexity of technical and political issues obscures the real challenge: mobilizing private sector investment and innovation at a pace and scale that would advance the UNFCCC and Paris objectives.”

According to Kennedy, the general feeling among delegates is that a fair amount of political will, particularly among high-level representatives and Ministers of Environment, will be required in order to successfully conclude.

“There is no one issue that is dominating conversations,” added Kennedy. “Rather, the sheer number of issues to be negotiated and the level of technicality those issues present is daunting for Parties to manage (or business representatives to track).”

The smaller than usual U.S. delegation here is led by Trigg Talley, and includes other State Department, Energy and EPA representatives.  Next week, Assistant Secretary of State Judy Garber and Wells Griffith (White House) arrive for the high-level portion of the negotiations.

Crucial to business will be outcomes on carbon markets. Countries seem to be falling into one of two camps:

  • The view of the U.S. is that any exchange – known as an ITMO (internationally transferred mitigation outcome) – should remain between the countries undertaking the transaction, and that both countries would agree their accounting and other arrangements accordingly.
  • Other parties take the view that ITMO approval should come through a centralized UNFCCC body, and that some share of the transactions (“a share of the proceeds”) should be allocated to a central fund or other UNFCCC-determined purpose.

Also crucial to business will be the potential adoption of the Silesian Declaration on Just Transition proposed by the Polish Presidency. Many parties support the Declaration, but others feel that they haven’t had enough time to examine the proposal.

“We are flagging the number of climate topics that are spilling into other forums and key issues, such as human rights and trade,” said Kennedy. “Following discussions with the U.S. Delegation here, USCIB has asked the State Department to stand firm against any intention to use participation in the Paris Agreement as a litmus test for trade policies among nations.”

Kennedy also observed that protesters and some social media accounts continue to complain about the presence of business at COP24, asserting that their involvement here constitutes a “conflict of interest” and interferes with the ability of governments to reach an ambitious agreement.  In the week ahead, USCIB members and staff will continue to express U.S. business priorities, working closely with the Administration to promote energy innovation and advance substantive business engagement.

International Business Magazine: Fall/Summer 2018

The Summer/Fall 2018 issue of USCIB’s quarterly International Business magazine is available here. The issue features a timely column by USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson titled, “The Myth of Private-Sector ‘Conflict of Interest’ at the UN. The issue also features news stories on how tariffs harm companies and consumers, tax reform impacts, and reinforcing US-China tie, plus news from our global network–Business at OECD, the International Organization of Employers and the International Chamber of Commerce.

“International Business,” USCIB’s quarterly journal, provides essential insight into major trade and investment topics, a high-level overview of USCIB policy advocacy and services, USCIB member news and updates from our global business network.

Subscribe to USCIB’s International Business Magazine

Subscriptions to “International Business” are available free upon request to representatives of USCIB member organizations. Contact us to subscribe.

Non-members may subscribe to “International Business” and other USCIB print publications at an annual rate of $50 (U.S.) for domestic delivery, or $75 for overseas delivery. Contact us to subscribe. USCIB’s annual report, studies from the United States Council Foundation and related publications are included with your paid subscription.

Our free electronic newsletter, “International Business Weekly,” provides regular updates on USCIB’s major activities and priorities. Click here to view a sample issue. Click here to subscribe.

We welcome outside submissions and inquiries regarding our publications – send them to news@uscib.org.

We welcome advertising in International Business magazine — special discounted rates for USCIB member organizations! Contact Kira Yevtukhova (kyevtukhova@uscib.org) for more information.

 

USCIB Voices Concerns With China’s WTO Commitments

As part of the annual request by the U.S. Trade Representative for comments on China’s compliance with World Trade Organization (WTO) commitments and notice of public hearing, USCIB submitted comments on September 21 reflecting USCIB members’ feedback and concerns. Since China acceded to the WTO in 2001, while progress has been made in some areas, there still remain significant WTO obligation compliance concerns.

USCIB’s submission highlights concerns that arise in selected horizontal areas that transcend industry sectors, including IT security measures, China’s antimonopoly law, intellectual property rights, market access, national treatment and non-discrimination, the regulatory environment, standards, state-owned enterprises, customs and trade facilitation, taxation, labor laws, certification, licensing, and testing barriers. USCIB’s submission also addresses issues related to specific industry sectors that face problems in China, including agricultural biotechnology, audiovisual, chemicals, electronic payment access, express delivery services, recoverable materials, software, and telecommunications.

“On China’s fulfillment of its WTO obligations, USCIB acknowledges the efforts China has made since joining the WTO in 2001 to meet its obligations under the terms of its accession agreement,” said USCIB Senior Director for Investment, Trade and Financial Services Eva Hampl, who leads USCIB’s work on China. “However, there still remain significant WTO obligation compliance concerns. USCIB notes that its member concerns extend beyond those discussed in this paper, including government procurement; until China officially accedes to and implements the WTO Government Procurement Agreement (GPA), government procurement program concerns remain among USCIB members.”

A public hearing to discuss these issues is scheduled to take place on October 3, 2018. Hampl will be testifying and highlighting the most urgent issues to U.S. industry.