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 Announces Launch of a Biodiversity Working Group

Responding to intergovernmental policy discussions on biodiversity, their implications for American companies, and the opportunity for private sector nature-based solutions, USCIB has announced the launch of a new multi-committee Working Group on Biodiversity. The Working Group is drawn from USCIB’s Environment, Intellectual Property and Innovation and Food and Agriculture committees to reflect the cross-cutting nature and impacts of proposed policies for U.S. companies doing business in global markets. It will begin its work in early November, with a focus on tracking and disseminating business-relevant information about the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (UN CBD) negotiations to interested USCIB members.

According to USCIB Vice President for Energy, Environment and Strategic International Engagement Norine Kennedy, this new group will also provide a platform to work with the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) Working Group, the Global Industry Coalition and other business initiatives related to biodiversity. The Biodiversity Working Group will also facilitate USCIB representation at UN CBD meetings (by both members and USCIB staff) and support the development of USCIB positions as needed.

“The UN CBD is developing a post-2020 biodiversity framework, which will feed into the UN Sustainable Development Goals,” noted Kennedy. “We hope to use this new platform to work with our international partners, such as ICC, to ensure that governments adopt policies that encourage business innovation and include business in future discussions.”

USCIB is planning to attend a workshop on November 6 in Madrid, organized by ICC and Business for Nature Consultation. Workshop participants will discuss and develop draft policy recommendations to governments that are needed to further scale-up existing actions and commitments taken by business to reverse nature loss and restore natural systems.

 If you are a USCIB member interested in joining this Working Group, please contact USCIB Vice President for Energy, Environment and Strategic International Engagement Norine Kennedy.

Hampl Contributes Expertise at OECD Workshop on Investment

USCIB Senior Director Eva Hampl speaks at OECD

USCIB Senior Director for Trade, Finance and Investment Eva Hampl contributed her expertise on a panel hosted by the OECD during its workshop on investment promotion and facilitation in Paris on October 22. The day-long event focused on investment facilitation and retention, foreign direct investment (FDI) impact on the host economy, as well as organized break-out sessions focusing on specific regions such as the European Union, Eurasia and select Latin America and Caribbean countries.

Hampl’s panel also featured Ambassador of Chile to the WTO and Coordinator of the WTO Structured Discussions on Investment Facilitation for Development Eduardo Gálvez, Director, Services and Industry Promotion Department, Ministry of Foreign Relations of Brazil Min. Luiz Cesar Gasser, Executive Director, Invest in Finland, Business Finland Antti Aumo and Head of Investment Policy Unit, DG Trade, European Commission Carlo Pettinato. Panelists addressed key roles of investment promotion agencies (IPAs) and policymakers in facilitating business establishment, securing investment retention and encouraging re-investments.

As the sole business representative on the panel, Hampl discussed common challenges that companies face on the ground at the establishment phase or for expansions and re-investments in both OECD and non-OECD economies. She suggested measures that governments can make in order to facilitate the establishment of companies to encourage them to stay in the home country. Hampl also touched upon the U.S. business perspective of the WTO discussions on investment facilitation.

“Investment is vital to economic growth and development,” said Hampl during the panel. “However businesses face many challenges when investing, including regulatory issues, lack of IP protections, lack of appropriate redress, inefficiencies and costs generated by forced localization policies and duplicative testing requirements, skills disparity, inability to find suitable business partners, etc. There is unfortunately no one size fits all approach — every country needs to work out what works best within the economy. But any measures should improve the rule of law and strengthen the institutions — more carrot than stick.”

The purpose of the workshop was to build on the IPA mappings to deepen OECD research in certain areas of investment promotion and facilitation, strengthen the knowledge of the OECD IPA Network and exchange on topics of common interest.

Hampl is attending a slew of investment-related meetings taking place at the OECD this week, including an OECD Roundtable on Investment and Sustainable Development, a Business at OECD (BIAC) dinner with the OECD Investment Committee leadership, a Business at OECD Investment Committee meeting and a stakeholder consultation with the OECD Investment Committee.

Hampl Provides Testimony at Interagency Committee on China’s WTO Compliance

Following USCIB’s annual submission to the U.S. Trade Representative regarding China’s compliance with its WTO commitments, USCIB Senior Director for Trade, Investment and Financial Services Eva Hampl provided testimony before the interagency Trade Policy Staff Committee, which was chaired by USTR and included officials from the Departments of Commerce, Treasury, State, Agriculture and Labor.

“USCIB members continue to have serious concerns with a host of policies and practices maintained by China that undermine the ability of U.S. businesses to operate, including unfair and discriminatory governmental practices,” stated Hampl. “The tariff actions under Section 301 have not to date resolved the underlying issues [of forced technology transfer and intellectual property theft] identified by the United States. Accordingly, high-level bilateral dialogue between the United States and China continues to be of the utmost importance. We also urge both countries to utilize, in addition to the WTO, the full range of formal multilateral fora, including Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Forum and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), to work toward improved commercial relations.”

The questions from the panel addressed the problematic enforcement of the anti-monopoly law, the myriad of certification and testing requirements, the current cybersecurity regime, market access (China’s filtering and blocking of websites and online services), the dysfunctional approval process for new agricultural biotechnology products, and recent developments on  China’s labor laws.

USCIB submitted extensive written comments last month. The submission is public and can also be found on www.regulations.gov under Docket Number USTR-2019-0010.

USCIB Releases Statement on China’s WTO Commitments, Urges Bilateral and Plurilateral Dialogue

In response to an annual request by the United States Trade Representative for comments on China’s compliance with WTO commitments and notice of public hearing, USCIB gathered member input and submitted a comprehensive statement on September 18.

The statement emphasizes the direct and important stake American business holds in the relationship between the U.S. and China and in its success. As the world’s largest economy, China’s practices and policies have a significant impact on its trading partners, and engagement with China can be challenging. China’s growing importance in the global economy provides strong incentives for both countries to work together to address common challenges and responsibilities.

USCIB members continue to have serious concerns with several policies and practices maintained by China that undermine the ability of U.S. businesses to operate, including unfair and discriminatory governmental practices. Furthermore, U.S. tariffs and Chinese retaliatory tariffs imposed as a result of the U.S. Section 301 investigation into China’s forced technology transfer, intellectual property, and innovation policies have been disruptive to U.S. business.

“The tariff actions have not resolved the underlying issues identified by the U.S. or have changed Chinese behavior regarding the matters covered by the investigation or the broader issues identified in this submission,” said Senior Director for Investment, Trade and Financial Services Eva Hampl.

Accordingly, the USCIB submission urged high-level bilateral dialogue between the U.S. and China. USCIB also urged both countries to utilize, in addition to the WTO, the full range of formal multilateral fora, including Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Forum and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), to work toward improved commercial relations. Plurilateral dialogues that include U.S.-friendly jurisdictions such as the European Union, Canada or Australia should also be considered.

“This annual submission provides a valuable opportunity to stakeholders to share issues that business is facing in China, following their accession 18 years ago in 2001,” said Hampl. Many sectors continue to face significant issues related to market access, transparency, regulation and protection of intellectual property rights. In addition to addressing many cross-sectoral and sector specific issues, this submission takes the opportunity to address the ongoing tariff war with China and the damaging effect that is having on companies.

“USCIB has been consistently pushing back against this tariff escalation, the start of which alleged to address some of the issues highlighted in our broader China WTO submission,” added Hampl. “Our submission clearly shows that the issues related to IP theft and forced tech transfer continue to be a problem for companies doing business in China.”

USCIB Urges Ongoing US-China Negotiations

Washington, D.C., August 13, 2019 – In response to President Trump’s announcement earlier today to delay implementation of a ten percent tariff on imports from China, the United States Council for International Business (USCIB), which represents America’s most successful global companies, urged the U.S. and China to continue negotiations toward a comprehensive agreement.

“Simply delaying harmful tariffs on a select number of particularly impacted products from September 1 to December 15 is not a solution,” said USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson. “It is crucial for the United States and China to engage in continuous discussions in order to reach a negotiated outcome with the goal of removing these tariffs and eliminating market barriers and discrimination.”

Robinson noted that American business continues to have major problems with China’s commercial policies and urged the Trump administration to work more closely with key U.S. trading partners and with the business community to address serious Chinese trade abuses, including referring U.S. complaints to the World Trade Organization.

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 several 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, USCIB
+1 212.703.5043, jhuneke@uscib.org

USCIB Joins Congressional Lobby Days to Push for USMCA

USCIB joined the effort of the USMCA Coalition in its most recent Congressional Lobby Days just ahead of August recess, which reached more than 100 House offices. USCIB Senior Director for Trade, Investment and Financial Services Eva Hampl joined a group which met exclusively with House Democratic offices July 24-25. According to Hampl, representatives noted that they understood the importance of USMCA for the economic future of the U.S.

The Coalition referenced the July 23 letter signed by over 600 business associations across the country in pushing for urgent Congressional approval of USMCA.

There was a keen interest in the USMCA working group of House Democrats, which was established last month by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to address some Democrats’ lingering concerns about issues in the agreement, specifically on labor, environment, enforcement and pharmaceutical pricing. While there were varying views on the substance of those discussions, there was general approval of the process. Many are looking to Pelosi for next steps. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and his team continue to meet with members of the working group. Discussions have been described as productive, and the Coalition has urged all parties to continue this important work during the August recess. The Senate remains in session this week.

“The Coalition is emphasizing the urgent need for action to move the agreement through Congress,” said Hampl. Hampl also noted that approval will depend on a collaborative approach.

The Senate Finance Committee is holding a hearing on USMCA today (July 30) and is featuring auto industry, agribusiness, transportation, dairy, and small business representatives, as well as a witness focusing on labor policy. For a list of witnesses please click here.

USCIB Urges Reversal of 1-800 Contacts FTC Ruling

USCIB filed an amicus brief with regards to 1-800 Contacts, Inc. case to highlight the challenges American businesses would face under the recent Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) decision’s approach to antitrust liability for trademark settlements, and explain the potential negative impacts the decision would have on businesses, consumers and competition if left to stand.

USCIB General Counsel Nancy Thevenin led the process for USCIB. “The Commission’s decision creates substantial uncertainty regarding the enforcement and settlement of intellectual property rights, increases the risk of arbitrary enforcement against even routine settlements, and potentially exposes settlements to such risk for decades,” warned Thevenin. “The decision should be reversed.”

Earlier this year, the FTC decided to impose antitrust liability against 1-800 Contacts, the largest online retailer of contact lenses in the U.S., on the basis that 1-800 Contacts’ settlements of trademark infringing lawsuits against at least fourteen competing online contact lens retailers restricted trade. Among other things, USCIB’s amicus argues that the Commission’s decision ignores the critical importance to business of intellectual property rights and its enforcement and would unfairly require the lawful exercise of such rights to a higher pro-competition standard.

USCIB thanks Eileen M. Cole, Bryant D. Gant and Seiji Niwa of member firm White & Case for their work with the amicus.