USCIB Welcomes a Changing of the Guard at US Mission to OECD

Andrew Havilland
Photo source: U.S. Mission to the OECD

Late summer is traditionally turnover season at U.S. diplomatic missions overseas, according to U.S. Ambassador (ret.) Shaun Donnelly, who serves as senior adviser at USCIB. Pandemic notwithstanding, 2020 is no exception. For USCIB, a key move is at the U.S. Mission to the OECD in Paris. Andrew Havilland is wrapping up three years as chargé d’affaires (i.e. acting Ambassador) at the U.S. Mission to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).  Three years ago, Havilland arrived in Paris as deputy chief of mission (DCM) at the OECD but for three years, no U.S. Ambassador has been confirmed.

“Havilland has done a fantastic job leading the U.S. Mission through a very challenging period,” said Donnelly. “He is liked, respected and listened to across the OECD and beyond.”

Throughout his time in Paris, Havilland worked closely with USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson and other USCIB staff on a wide range of major policy issues.

Whitney Baird Photo source: US Mission to the EU

“We are, of course, sad to see Andrew depart Paris but are delighted that he’s being replaced as DCM/Chargé by Whitney Baird, another one of the State Department’s very best senior economic experts,” noted Robinson. Baird has a background in EU issues and trade policy and is coming from a tour as deputy assistant secretary of state for African affairs, in charge of West African and regional issues. She will be arriving in Paris next week to take over leadership of the Mission.

Robinson led a September 2 virtual session with Baird and Havilland for USCIB policy managers to brief Baird on key policy issues ahead at the OECD for USCIB member companies; tax policy, including digital services tax, and Internet and digital economy issues were at the top of the agenda, but other important policy areas were also discussed – from trade and investment, environment, labor and social affairs, anti-corruption and responsible business conduct to health and anti-illicit trade.

Additionally, Robinson and USCIB policy experts thanked Havilland and his team for their access and close cooperation on a range of issues over the past few years and agreed to continue the close, mutually beneficial cooperation on key OECD issues, organizational as well as policy-related, with Baird and her U.S. Mission team going forward. For the foreseeable future, that cooperation, like all USCIB engagement with the OECD and Business at OECD (BIAC) will be by email, conference call and Zoom sessions.

After a three and-a-half year gap in the post of U.S. Ambassador, President Donald Trump nominated current State Department Assistant Secretary for Economic and Business Affairs Manisha Singh as the next U.S. Ambassador to the OECD on May 5. If confirmed, Singh would assume charge of the U.S. Mission to the OECD and Baird would revert to the DCM role. Assistant Secretary Singh had a confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) on August 6. The SFRC will now need to vote on her nomination and then, if voted out of committee, the Full Senate would have to vote on her confirmation before she could be sworn in as the next U.S. Ambassador to the OECD and take up the post in Paris. Until that time Baird will head the U.S. Mission as Chargé d’Affaires.

Note: If members have questions or suggestions related to ongoing OECD issues, please work with the appropriate USCIB policy manager and/or relevant USCIB committee leadership.  USCIB staff stand ready to assist member companies with any OECD-related issues, including introductions to new Chargé Whitney Baird and her senior staff.

Jumpstart American Jobs Series: Robinson Shares Views on Trade, Supply Chains, Inclusive Multilateralism

President & CEO of GBA Nancy McLernon interviews Peter Robinson, President of RILA Brian Dodge and President & CEO of FMI Leslie Sarasin

Just as American companies and employers led the way in responding to the coronavirus pandemic, they are now prepared to help drive America’s economic recovery. In a series of virtual interviews, the Global Business Alliance (GBA) has provided a forum for leading executives to share perspectives with top policymakers on what it will take to jumpstart American job growth. In the most recent installment, “Sold. Separately”, USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson joined Food Marketing Institute President and CEO Leslie Sarasin and Retail Industry Leaders Association President Brian Dodge to share views from members and to emphasize the importance of open trade, diversified supply chains and inclusive multilateralism. President and CEO of GBA Nancy McLernon led the discussion.

Robinson kicked off the discussion with highlights of what some USCIB members, such as Target, Amazon, Hanesbrands, Nike and Mastercard, have been doing to address the pandemic.

“One distinctive attribute of USCIB members is their global perspective and action as partners in multilateral institutions to advance response and recovery,” said Robinson. “And they are very concerned about the health of the constituent components of their global supply chains overseas, as well as at home.” He noted that USCIB supports initiatives by ICC, IOE and BIAC calling for governmental support of SMEs to ensure business continuity.

Throughout the discussion, Robinson underscored the imperative of free and fair trade and competition, particularly in light of COVID-related disruptions in supply chains which have given air cover to embracing of protectionist measures by governments.

“We are still in the middle of the pandemic,” noted Robinson. “The only way to ensure that economies grow again is to ensure open trade and investment environments. Increased digitization is going to be a big part of that. The business community, including USCIB, has been vocally opposed to resorting to protectionist policies. It is our view that a reversal of many of these policies in place is necessary to ensure a sustainable, post-pandemic economy.”

Robinson also highlighted the depth of global interdependence and the need to join hands across borders to work on an inclusive pandemic recovery: “COVID-19 knows no borders: it’s a one-world enemy and we need a one-world response”. According to Robinson, “We are entering a ‘new reality’ for business and society—and a new imperative to enhance and strengthen employment, societal resilience, and sustainable development. Multilateral institutions are the vehicles to ensure we have an all-out collective and coordinated effort to ‘Build Back Better’—and all institutions across humanitarian, health, economic, trade, and environmental roles need to work closely with representative private sector organizations.”

USCIB Submits Comments to USTR on Proposed Digital Services Taxes

USCIB provided comments to the United States Trade Representative (USTR) regarding the proposed Digital Services Taxes (DSTs) of several countries, including Austria, Brazil, Czech Republic, India, Indonesia, Italy, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom, as well as the European Union.

USCIB’s submission focused on whether these countries violated Section 301 while encouraging the U.S. to seek a multilateral solution.

“The DSTs under investigation are a poor choice to address the tax issues arising from digitalization of the economy and will work against the economic recovery they are intended to help fund,” said USCIB Vice President for Taxation Policy Carol Doran Klein. “Rather, the U.S. should work cooperatively to find an appropriate multilateral solution to taxing the digitalizing economy that does not unduly burden U.S. interests and fosters certainty for business.”

USCIB Applauds USTR’s Announcement to Include Ed Potter in USMCA Labor Mechanism

Ed Potter addressing the ILO Conference in Geneva in 2015.

New York, NY, July 20, 2020: The U.S. Council for International Business (USCIB), which represents many of America’s leading global companies, applauded the U.S. Trade Representative’s recent announcement of a select panel for the Rapid Response Labor Mechanism, a key tool for the enforcement of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) trade agreement.

“We welcome the inclusion of Ed Potter as one of the select panel members. Potter has worked extensively with USCIB for decades, most recently as former senior counsel for International Labor Affairs and prior to that as a chair of USCIB’s International Labor Affairs Committee (now the Corporate Responsibility and Labor Affairs Committee). Potter is an International Advisory Council Member at the Institute for Human Rights and Business.  For over two decades, he participated on the ILO Committee on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations that holds countries accountable for their obligations resulting from the ratification of ILO conventions.”

Potter is joined by Janice Bellace (Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania), Lance Compa (Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations), Peter Hurtgen (Curley, Hurtgen & Johnsrud LLP), Ira Jaffe (Arbitrator and mediator for labor, employment and benefits disputes) and Kevin Kolben (Rutgers Business School).

The Rapid Response Labor Mechanism, a bilateral annex of the USMCA between the U.S. and Mexico, allows the U.S. to take expedited enforcement actions against individual factories in Mexico that fail to comply with domestic freedom of association and collective bargaining laws.

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.

USTR Must Urge Canada and Mexico to Honor USMCA Commitments

USCIB joined the Alliance for Trade Enforcement (AFTE) to send a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Robert E. Lighthizer to ensure that Canada and Mexico abide by the commitment they have made in the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) and treat U.S. interests fairly.

The letter stated: “We applaud the sentiments that you expressed in your recent congressional testimony about your willingness to seek dispute settlement on issues of importance to U.S. manufacturing, agriculture and service sectors where those countries fall short, including patent, trademark and market access issues impacting innovative industries from both new and longstanding policies and regulations in Mexico and Canada.”

The group noted support for Lighthizer’s attention to the full enforcement of IP commitments made in the USMCA which protects U.S. IP-intensive industries, such as patent linkages and provisions to protect against abuses of the regulatory review exception, as well as broader market access barrier to innovative products, namely the lack of approvals for imported agricultural biotech products. AFTE argued that Mexico’s failure to approve such products threatens both trade with Mexico and U.S. farmers’ access to important technologies; meanwhile, Canada’s Patented Medicine Prices Review Board continues to develop and implement unfair pricing and reimbursement regulatory schemes that don’t account for the cost of research and development of innovative treatments, which ultimately reduces incentives for American scientists and manufactures to research and develop new treatments.

AFTE however applauded the important leap forward made by the USMCA’s digital trade provisions, which include key commitments and significant improvements over prior agreements.

AFTE is a coalition of trade associations and business groups dedicated to ending foreign unfair trade practices that harm American businesses and workers and to ensuring that America’s trading partners are held accountable for the commitments that they have made to treat American goods and services fairly. AFTE members represent companies – both large and small – from across the economy, including the manufacturing, agriculture, and service sectors. AFTE supports actions and policies that encourage U.S. trading partners to open their markets, reduce barriers to trade, and provide effective protection and enforcement of intellectual property (IP) rights.

USCIB Advocates Multilateralism, Partnerships, Vaccine Acceptance During HLPF

Given the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s United Nations High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) was drastically different, necessitating a virtual platform as hundreds of governments, NGOs, and civil society tuned in remotely to side-events rather than congregating at the UN headquarters in New York. Despite the challenges of a remote HLPF, USCIB retained its active leadership role, co-organizing side-events on inclusive multilateralism, the private sector’s role in educating the public about vaccines, and partnerships to fight COVID-19 and to advance the UN 2030 Development Agenda.

Inclusive Multilateralism

USCIB kicked off the week with a side-event on “Inclusive Multilateralism in Action: Working Together to Build Stronger, Resilient and Sustainable Economies” on July 7. USCIB, which serves as co-chair of the UN’s Business and Industry Major Group, partnered with the International Organization of Employers (IOE), the UN Global Compact, the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and the American Chemistry Council on the event. Dialogue among experts during the panels highlighted synergies at the national and global levels of COVID-19 response and recovery with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and made the case of mainstreaming private sector partnership and expertise into the UN Decade of Action and Delivery.

The USCIB Foundation’s Business Partners for Sustainable Development (BPSD) Initiative Executive Director Dr. Scott Ratzan spoke on one of the panels alongside, First Vice Chair of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) Maria Fernanda Garza, Secretary General, International Organization of Employers (IOE) Roberto Suarez Santos and UN Global Compact Executive Director Sanda Ojiambo. USCIB Vice President for International Strategic Engagement, Energy and Environment Norine Kennedy moderated a panel which explored best practices from business in developing partnerships to address food security, health and waste management challenges, all of which have become more difficult for the global community to tackle in light of COVID-19.

“The presentations highlighted the role of business as ‘first responders’ in several key areas of the pandemic response,” said Kennedy. In concluding the panel, Kennedy summed up what is needed as businesses merge their SDG plans with crisis response and recovery: “Inclusive multilateralism involving and mainstreaming private sector dialogue and implementation is not a nice-to-have; it is a must-have for a successful UN Decade of Delivery, Action and Recovery.”

Partnerships

BPSD was also featured at a July 7 side-event organized by the UN 2030 Agenda Partnership Accelerator. Titled “Partnerships against COVID-19 – building back better together to advance the 2030 Agenda,” the event explored how partnerships can assist developing countries in addressing challenges of the coronavirus and its aftermath while promoting synergies between key sectors, such as the scientific and technological community and the private sector. Ratzan, representing BPSD, joined a select group of experts including Sustainable Development Officer, Division for Sustainable Development Goals, UN DESA Ola Goransson, Resident Coordinator, Mauritius and Seychelles Christine N. Umutoni and Professor and Department Chair of Development Sociology, Cornell University, member of the Independent Group of Scientists for the Global Sustainable Development Report Parfait Eloundou-Enyegue.

Scientific Advances and Vaccination Acceptance

BPSD Executive Director Scott Ratzan

BPSD, together with the UN Technology Facilitation Mechanism, UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), and City University of New York (CUNY) Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy organized “COVID-19 vaccines: scientific advances, access models and vaccination acceptance,” on July 10 to explore the status of scientific research advances, implications for policy, and generating public trust in science and building vaccine literacy, and addressing misleading vaccine information.

“Despite the major technological advances that have enlisted industry to fast track a COVID-19 vaccine, all these efforts will be for nought if not enough people accept a vaccine to reach the necessary community protection, also termed herd immunity,” warned Ratzan. “Vaccine hesitancy threatens uptake for a COVID-19 vaccine before it has even been developed. Anti-vaccination advocates are spreading disinformation and inciting fears including vaccine side effects, safety and/or efficacy. Compounding these ongoing issues is a reality in which globally, many do not believe COVID-19 is a real threat. While we are not sure how entrenched these groups are in their disbelief of the risks of coronavirus infection or believe the pandemic is a conspiracy,  there is much work to do to build vaccine literacy and combat a pervasive anti-science, anti-truth rhetoric.”

Ratzan also presented “The CONVINCE Initiative” (COVID-19 New Vaccine Information, Communication, and Education), which will bring together key players in a multisectoral collaboration to formulate a whole-of-society approach to create frameworks, best practices and platforms to ensure vaccine uptake.

USCIB, Business Groups Urge Administration to Prioritize US-China Deal

USCIB, along with dozens of U.S. business and industry groups, sent a letter to USTR Robert Lighthizer, U.S. Secretary of Treasury Steven Mnuchin and Vice Premier of China’s State Council Liu He strongly supporting the U.S.-China Phase One Trade Agreement noting its “significant achievement in ongoing efforts to advance a more balanced and mutually beneficial U.S.-China economic and commercial relationship.”

The letter also stated that successful implementation of Phase One will be critical to subsequent negotiation of a Phase Two Agreement.

The organizations noted that continuing fulfillment of the terms of the Agreement particularly with regards to Intellectual Property, removal of market access barriers and tariffs are critical. With regards to market access barriers, the letter focused on U.S. fruits, grains, and nearly all U.S. beef products, the expansion of its list of U.S. facilities eligible to export beef, pork, poultry, seafood, dairy and infant formula to China, as well as the adoption of new domestic standards for dairy powder that will allow imports from the United States.

“Meeting the global public health challenges from COVID-19 and restoring growth to the global economy will depend in part on both countries working together to fully implement the mutually beneficial outcomes of the Phase One Agreement,” the letter stated. “Thorough and timely implementation of Phase One commitments is also the most direct and achievable path to removal of tariffs—and to avoid application of new ones—on both sides, which the U.S. business community strongly supports.”

USCIB Statement on USMCA Entry Into Force

Washington, D.C., July 1, 2020 – The U.S. Council for International Business (USCIB), which represents many of America’s leading global companies, welcomes today’s entry into force of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) trade agreement, preserving and deepening the economic ties in North America and bolstering the global competitiveness of our companies and workers. The implementation of this agreement comes at a critical time of restoring certainty to U.S. industry in the North American market, as the global market is working toward recovery from the impacts of the current crisis.

The three partner countries must continue to work together to ensure effective implementation of this agreement, so that the benefits of the agreement in its updated and modernized provisions including on digital trade and customs can be realized. Over 12 million American jobs depend on trade with Canada and Mexico, and continuing to build on this economic relationship is important for U.S. industry for future economic growth. USCIB looks forward to a seamless transition to the new agreement.

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.

Kennedy Speaks on Border Carbon Adjustments, Carbon Pricing

While the UNFCCC postponed its 26th Conference of the Parties to next year, USCIB has remained active in its policy advocacy on international climate change. Most recently, USCIB Vice President for Strategic International Engagement, Environment and Energy Norine Kennedy spoke in a virtual “USA-EU Town Hall on Border Carbon Adjustments.”

The June 17 event was organized by the European Roundtable on Climate Change and Sustainable Transition (ERCST) and the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions at Duke University.

“Border Carbon Adjustment cannot be viewed in isolation; it is connected to carbon pricing, taxation and carbon offsets, that need to be taken into consideration when discussing this topic,” said Kennedy during her remarks.

The town hall discussion focused on the role that Border Carbon Adjustments (BCAs) may play as part of the EU Green Deal proposal and associated stimulus package.  This concept aims to tackle asymmetry in climate ambition under the Paris Agreement, from carbon leakage and competitiveness standpoints.

“We need to develop and design policies that are fit for purpose and work in synergy with multilateral trade in order to successfully overcome climate challenges and fulfil the Paris Agreement goals,” added Kennedy.

USCIB strongly favors multilateral cooperative approaches and policies not only in the climate space, but also via the United Nations and other international organizations.

Global Industry Urges G20 to Promote Innovation, Digital Tech, Trade

USCIB joined a global group of like-minded industry and trade associations to urge the G20 to work with industry to encourage the open markets and accelerated technology adoption that will drive groundbreaking innovations and creative solutions, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The letter states: “This will require reaffirmed commitments to reject protectionism, support rules-based multilateral organizations, best practices, processes, and obligations, embrace transparency in legislative and regulatory actions, and invest in the workforce. Such commitments should be taken with a view to prioritizing the enhancement and generation of business opportunities for micro, small, and medium size enterprises (MSMEs) and continued advancement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a means of ensuring inclusive recovery across economies.

In general, the global industry group welcomes the renewed discussion at the G20 this year on the role of digital technologies in promoting economic growth through cross-border innovation and trade. As such, the group recommended several actions including facilitating a global response to the COVID-19 outbreak, advancing global date free flows with trust (DFFT), promoting cross-border innovation and adoption of new technologies, as well as ensuring the benefits of technology are realized by all.

According to the industry group, G20 2019 was a groundbreaking year for the advancement of global digital policy discussions. Under Japan’s leadership, the G20 launched the Osaka Track to accelerate and support the ongoing digital trade discussions at the World Trade Organization (WTO) and created the concept of Data Free Flows with Trust (DFFT) in recognition of the fact that open cross-border data flows are the lifeblood of all industries, and that strong protections for privacy and cybersecurity go hand-in-hand with the transparent, non-discriminatory transfer of data across borders. G20 2020 offers governments the opportunity to advance this work towards an open, inclusive vision of the modern global economy.