Robinson Kicks Off 2020 With OECD, ICC France, ICC Germany 

ICC-Germany staff (Secretary-General Oliver Wieck, center) with USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson (right) in Berlin

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) held its annual consultation with Business at OECD on January 13 in Paris under the theme, Role of Business in Lifelong Opportunities: People First Policies to Bridge Divides. USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson and AT&T Senior Vice President Karim Lesina provided a kick-off presentation on behalf of industry, followed by remarks by OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurria and Business at OECD’s Chairman Phil O’Reilly and Secretary-General Russell Mills.

Recommendations by Business at OECD focused on the value of relying on open markets on trade, investment, taxation and development initiatives; ensuring a people-first approach to developing new approaches to the Future of Work; and incentivizing and driving innovation in the health and environment areas in the 5G generation.

According to Robinson, it was the best-attended consultation to date, with a strong business delegation, senior OECD staff including all four Deputy Secretaries-General and OECD Ambassadors from nearly all OECD member countries. In helping to set the stage, Robinson emphasized the continued commitment of the American business community to open markets and multilateral approaches and institutions. “The necessity for inclusive multilateralism, whereby all stakeholders—including business—have a seat at the table to pursue societal challenges together is crucial,” said Robinson, who also praised the OECD in setting an appropriate example in this regard.

Lesina provided the perspective of a leading modern media company that is investing globally while driving innovation in life-long learning opportunities for its employees.  He highlighted that increased convergence and digitalization have helped create a truly global economy, providing consumers today with a unique opportunity to benefit from cross-border activity best cultivated by open market policies. Lesina emphasized the need for flexible policy and regulatory frameworks that foster innovation and drive creativity and underscored the vital role of the OECD in delivering the benefits of the digital economy to consumers everywhere through forward-looking and evidence-based policymaking.

“The Consultation provides an excellent opportunity for business to interact with OECD staff and country Ambassadors,” said Robinson. Robinson had several meetings with OECD management staff to discuss Business at OECD and USCIB priorities.

While in Paris, Robinson also visited USCIB’s International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) National Committee counterpart, ICC-France, and met with the new Secretary-General of ICC-France, Emmanuelle Butaud-Stubbs, to discuss mutual interests and priorities and cooperation in policy areas including trade and environment.

Robinson then traveled to Berlin to meet with several of USCIB’s global affiliate counterparts in Germany: ICC-Germany, the German Employers Federation (BDA) and the German Chamber of Industry and Commerce (DIHK). Secretary-General of ICC-Germany Oliver Wieck, Director of Communications Katrin Rupprecht and staff organized a discussion forum at which Robinson addressed U.S. Trade Policy in 2020. ICC-Germany members including Siemens, Thyssenkrupp and BDI attended as did Dr. Berend Diekmann, head of division for USA/Canada/Mexico from the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy. Finally, Robinson met with BDA CEO Steffen Kampeter and DIHK Director of ATA Carnet Dr. Kornelia Ferati.

USCIB Welcomes Senate Approval of USMCA

Washington, D.C., January 16, 2020 – The U.S. Council for International Business (USCIB), which represents many of America’s leading global companies, issued the following statement on the announcement today of Congressional approval of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) trade agreement, updating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA):

“USCIB welcomes today’s announcement of Senate approval of USCMA following overwhelming bipartisan support of the agreement in the House of Representatives. USMCA is an important agreement for U.S. industry for future economic growth, containing several provisions important to our members modernizing the original NAFTA, like those on digital trade and customs.

While we continue to be concerned about certain provisions including the erosion of vital protections impacting the ability to innovate for our industry leaders, we applaud Congressional support of the agreement supporting over 12 million American jobs that depend on trade with Canada and Mexico. We look forward to entry into force of this important trade deal for U.S. business, and continued dialogue with the Administration on ensuring critical protections will be upheld in future agreements.”

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.

Contacts:

Kira Yevtukhova, USCIB
+1 202.617.3160,
kyevtukhova@uscib.org
  Glen Brandow, USCIB
+1 212.703.5043,
gbrandow@uscib.org

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.

USCIB Releases 2020 Trade and Investment Policy Priorities

Each year the Trade and Investment Committee of the U.S. Council for International Business (USCIB) conducts an extensive consultation process among members in identifying priorities for the coming year. The 2020 USCIB Trade and Investment Agenda includes a list of key principles our members support for open trade and investment and an action plan for addressing our trade and investment policy priorities.

The action plan anticipates another busy year on trade and investment including:

  • pressing for final approval and implementation of USMCA,
  • seeking Administration action on phase 2 agreements with China and Japan,
  • supporting movement on trade negotiations with the EU and UK,
  • seeking continued progress on negotiations in the WTO on a digital trade agreement and
  • modernizing the WTO.

“The Agenda provides the framework for USCIB work to advance policies and negotiations that will open international markets for our member companies and strengthen the global rules-based trade and investment framework,” said USCIB Senior Vice President for Policy and Government Affairs Rob Mulligan. 

USCIB Opposes Proposed Rule on ICT-Related Transactions 

USCIB joined a coalition of over thirty other associations to send a letter to U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross regarding a proposed rule to implement an Executive Order on Securing the Information and Communications Technology and Services (ICTS) Supply Chain. This rule would provide the U.S. government with the authority to block, intervene in and unwind certain ICTS-related transactions on the grounds of national security.

The letter stated: “Our members share the Administration’s commitment to ensuring that ICTS transactions do not pose undue risks to national security. However, we view the proposed rule as vague and highly problematic because as written, it would provide the Department with nearly unlimited authority to intervene in virtually any commercial transaction between U.S. companies and their foreign counterparts that involves technology, with little to no due process, accountability, transparency, or coordination with other government programs that are also designed to protect national security.”

According to the letter, the proposed rule does not provide sufficient legal clarity to American companies to identify transactions that could be in scope, which would create significant uncertainty in the business community, disrupt global supply chains and make a range of trade and investment decisions very difficult. Under the proposed rule, companies may also bear higher costs as they alter long-standing business relationships, search for new suppliers and unwind transactions, which will harm U.S. competitiveness and technology leadership.

“An open investment climate with predictable rules is vital to economic growth and development,” said Eva Hampl, senior director of investment, trade and financial services at USCIB. “While national security concerns should be a consideration, virtually unlimited government authority to intervene in transactions could cause significant economic harm to U.S. businesses and consumers.”

USCIB Welcomes Bipartisan Breakthrough on USMCA

Washington, D.C., December 10, 2019 – The U.S. Council for International Business (USCIB), which represents America’s most successful global companies, issued the following statement on the announcement today of a bipartisan deal between the Trump administration and the House of Representatives leadership to move the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) trade agreement, updating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), to expeditious enactment:

“USCIB welcomes today’s announcement of a bipartisan agreement to move the USMCA to approval by the U.S. Congress and quick entry-into-force. We are also encouraged that the Mexican and Canadian partner governments are prepared to support the necessary adjustments to bring the USMCA into effect. The agreement contains several provisions important to our members, recognizing the many changes in the North American and global economies since the original NAFTA was signed a quarter-century ago. Modernized provisions including those on digital trade and customs are key to allowing U.S. companies to continue to thrive in the North American market and to compete in today’s, and tomorrow’s global markets.

“While supportive of the new USMCA, we look forward to an on-going dialogue with the Administration and Congressional leaders on possible further refinements to some important provisions, including protections for innovation and intellectual property as well as effective protections for American investors, before USMCA might serve as an optimal model for future trade agreements.”

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.

Contact:
Kira Yevtukhova, USCIB
+1 202.617.3160, kyevtukhova@uscib.org

USCIB Urges Resolution to Impasse Over Appellate Body at WTO

Washington, D.C., December 10, 2019 – The U.S. Council for International Business believes the role of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in bringing together countries to reach much-needed agreements on global trade and enforcing them constitutes the cornerstone of our rules-based trading system. We are concerned that a key part of the WTO, the Appellate Body, will not be able to function after the impasse reached in the WTO today, and we urge all member governments to resolve outstanding issues needed to restore the Appellate Body to full operation. While the WTO will continue its active negotiations work, as well as the work of the first instance of dispute settlement, it is important to the business community that the WTO is equipped with all of the tools it needs to effectively address the trade challenges of the 21st century.

USCIB supports modernizing the WTO, including improvements to the Appellate Body, and negotiating agreements that will address the new trade policy issues confronting our members. We strongly support the current negotiations of a plurilateral agreement on digital trade by the Joint Statement Initiative (JSI) on E-Commerce, and the effort to make permanent the Moratorium on Customs Duties on Electronic Transmissions. USCIB urges the members of the WTO to find approaches to deal with the issues surrounding the WTO Appellate Body as soon as possible, so that the important work of the dispute settlement body can resume.

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.

Contact:
Kira Yevtukhova, USCIB
+1 202.617.3160, kyevtukhova@uscib.org

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.

Trade Conference Focuses on Inclusive Global Economy

Amid backlash to increased international trade and rising populism and protectionism across the globe, the Institute of Human Rights and Business (IHRB) held a conference on December 3 in London entitled Next Generation Trade: Building a Principled, People-Centred Global Economy. USCIB Vice President for Corporate Responsibility and Labor Affairs Gabriella Rigg Herzog and Senior Director for Investment, Trade and Financial Services Eva Hampl represented USCIB.

The conference focused on the issue of building a principled, people-centered global economy, and highlighted issues including climate, the future of work, the multilateral trading system, inclusive trade, and data and technology.

USCIB is very active in the space of trade and investment, as well as corporate responsibility and business and human rights.

“With an increasing public focus on international trade, it is imperative for the business voice to be heard in a variety of fora, emphasizing the message that trade and investment are vital contributors to economic growth and development,” said Hampl.

USCIB continues to believe that the World Trade Organization (WTO) is a pillar of the multilateral trading system and that the value of this trade institution cannot be overstated, and its continued existence is critical.

Hampl Weighs In On WTO Discussions on E-Commerce

The sixth negotiating round of the Joint Statement Initiative (JSI) on E-Commerce is taking place at the WTO in Geneva this week. The JSI is negotiating a plurilateral agreement on digital trade, also referred to as the WTO E-Commerce Agreement. USCIB Senior Director, Investment Trade and Financial Services Eva Hampl is on the ground in Geneva this week on behalf of USCIB and members in support of this important initiative at the WTO, which attempts to write global rules on digital trade.

The JSI started out with seventy-six WTO members and as of this week that number has risen to 81, with Indonesia being the latest to join the plurilateral effort. Issues discussed this week include customs duties, access to internet and data, business trust, capacity building, legal issues, and market access.

“This will be the final round before the WTO General Council meeting taking place December 9-11 in Geneva. Negotiations are expected to resume in the new year at a similar pace, with an eye toward an outcome by MC12 in June 2020,” stated Hampl.

Earlier this year, USCIB issued recommendations on the E-Commerce negotiations, reflecting member priorities, including issues like data flows and localization. USCIB is actively engaging with governments involved in the negotiations in Geneva through various efforts, including the Digital Trade Network and the International Chamber of Commerce.

On Thursday, November 21, USCIB is supporting a side event by the ICC on the Moratorium on Customs Duties on Electronic Transmission (E-Commerce Moratorium), which is currently expiring at the end of the year. The panel will discuss the implications of not extending the moratorium, including in the context of the recent OECD Report. At this time, fifteen WTO members have proposed to extend the Moratorium until MC12 in June 2020. In order for an extension to be possible, unanimous support is required.