Donnelly Talks Trade and Diplomacy (and Soybeans) in Podcast Interview

Shaun Donnelly

USCIB Vice President Shaun Donnelly is featured in a recent interview on the podcast “American Diplomat” demystifying trade policy and negotiations for listeners outside the beltway. The “American Diplomat” series is supported by the American Academy of Diplomacy, which counts among its members both Donnelly and USCIB Vice Chair Thomas Niles, longtime U.S. diplomats who each achieved the ranks of ambassador and assistant secretary. It seeks to give listeners around the country greater appreciation of the work done by American diplomats and public servants – in this case trade negotiators – to advance America’s, and Americans’, interests.

In the podcast interview, host Peter Romero (a retired U.S. ambassador and assistant secretary of state for the Western Hemisphere) leads Shaun through an informal discussion of the nuts and bolts of trade negotiations, with soybeans arising often as an example how any specific products factor into broad trade policy.

Donnelly claims to have enjoyed the discussion. “Over the years, I’ve done a fair number of speeches, panels and interviews trying to help build public understanding and support for an aggressive, pro-engagement, pro-growth trade policy, and have not always succeeded,” he noted with a self-deprecating chuckle. “I found this more informal, extended conversation format with Peter and his colleague Laura Bennett allowed more opportunity to get behind the sound bite, the bumper sticker and the talking point. Trade remains a complex, controversial and politicized topic these days. All of us who believe in open trade and investment policies need to keep reaching out to help build public understanding and support for common sense trade policies. I hope this sort of podcasts can make a modest contribution to the public discourse on trade.”

USCIB Represents Business at State Department Anti-Corruption Training

USCIB Vice President for Investment and Financial Services Shaun Donnelly was the business community panelist at an August 10 State Department anti-corruption training session during a week-long “Tools and Strategies to Combat Corruption” course for State Department officers headed overseas this summer.

The session, at State’s Foreign Service Institute in Arlington, Virginia was an informal give-and-take on how U.S. embassies and consulates abroad can work with the private sector to combat bribery and corruption. Donnelly was filling in for USCIB colleague Eva Hampl, who has participated in previous anti-corruption training sessions.

“I thought we had a very useful discussion of how U.S. business and local U.S. embassy staff members can cooperate on win-win efforts to combat corruption and bribery by local firms and government officials as well as third-country competitors,” Donnelly said. “Corruption anywhere is a cancer on governance and politics; it can also cost American businesses and workers a fair shot at winning major trade and investment deals. Business and government need to be full partners in combating this cancer.”

Congress Sends Revised “CFIUS” Foreign Investment Rules to President for Signature

USCIB was very pleased to see both houses of Congress adopt (the House on July 25 and Senate a week later on August 1) as part of the compromise Conference Report on the overall 2019 “John McCain” National Defense Authorization Act (“NDAA”), some fundamental long-gestating revisions to the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. (“CFIUS”) process for U.S. Government review of foreign direct investment (FDI) into the U.S.

Over the last year, Congress, the Administration and key stakeholders, including USCIB and the broad U.S. and international business communities, have been debating a wide range of potential major reforms to CFIUS.  Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) and Representative Robert Pittinger (R-NC) have taken the lead with their Foreign Investment Risk Review Mechanism (“FIRRMA”) bill but a wide range of possible revisions and reforms have been put on the table by various players on the Hill and beyond.

“Some of the proposed ‘reforms’, especially the idea that CFIUS should dramatically expand its remit to cover outward investment, joint ventures, licensing deals, and other innovative partnerships, were very troubling to us at USCIB and many member companies,” noted USCIB Vice President for Investment and Financial Services Shaun Donnelly. “USCIB and others in the business community raised fundamental objections to some of those more expansive proposals.”

In the end, according to Donnelly, the compromise “FIRRMA” provisions hammered out and included in the NDAA package seem a fair balance, strengthening CFIUS’s security overview of sensitive investment proposals, especially those in sensitive emerging technologies which also maintaining America’ commitment to open investment policies.

Donnelly endorsed the compromise FIRRMA provisions, stating, “We at USCIB commend the Congress and the Administration for the serious approach they’ve taken to these important investment security issues. We especially appreciate that the Treasury Department, other agencies, and many players in the Congress have all been open to a real substantive dialogue with business and other stakeholders on fundamental issues on investment security and business practices. We think they got the balance about right in the final compromise package, which is not easy.”

USCIB Gathers Stakeholders to Discuss E-Commerce Framework

On July 31 and August 1, USCIB teamed up with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to host the second in a series of meetings tied to e-commerce and the work being undertaken by the World Customs Organization (WCO). Dubbed “Industry Days,” these meetings included robust participation from both private sector and public sector representatives from multiple U.S. government agencies aimed at continuing the established dialogue on the WCO’s E-Commerce Framework of Standards (FoS).  Last week’s meetings were conducted in a small group fashion, which were stakeholder specific (i.e., carriers, customs brokers, e-payment, marketplaces and vendors).

Per the WCO, “The Framework of Standards is intended for Customs administrations wishing to develop legislative and operational frameworks for cross-border e-commerce.” In June, the WCO Council endorsed the draft FoS that included an introduction, 15 Standards and related introductions, as well as a U.S. tabled Resolution. In addition, the Council approved a one-year extension of the E-Commerce Working Group as well as a draft Work Plan noting the need for flexibility with respect to timelines and adherence. The next meeting of the WCO’s E-Commerce Working Group will take place in October.

Currently, the U.S. government and other WCO Member administrations are working to develop and  provide inputs on such intersessional topics as Definitions, Work Plan, and Data Elements. These “Industry Day” meetings are critical to the development of the U.S. government – one government – position, and provide the opportunity for private sector stakeholders to advance general and specific comments and concerns regarding aspects of the FoS, topic specific questions (e.g., Flow Charts, Data and Data Privacy, risks, etc.,) as well as overall views related to e-commerce.

“The purpose of these meetings was to bring together relevant intermediaries to discuss and gather perspectives in efforts to assist in USG policy and position development,” said Megan Giblin who leads USCIB’s work on customs and trade facilitation.  “Overall the meetings were successful and brought together USG agencies including: Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection, Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, U.S. Department of Treasury, Department of Energy, Department of State, U.S. Postal Service, Federal Trade Commission as well as many private sector stakeholders including many who are new to the WCO E-Commerce Framework of Standards.”

USCIB Urges G20 to Get More Active Combating International Bribery

USCIB has joined with other major U.S. business associations as well as the AFL-CIO labor federation and the Coalition for Integrity, a leading anti-corruption NGO, to send a joint letter to President Trump requesting that the Administration take major steps this year to combat international bribery and corruption.

The group recommends a particular focus on the G20, the largest economies and major competitors and partners, with a view to getting those G20 members which are not yet signatories to the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention become signatories and full partners to that convention by the end of 2018.  China, India, Saudi Arabia, and Indonesia are key G20 members falling into that category.

“Our letter also recommends that the Administration should step up its efforts to ensure vigorous and consistent enforcement of foreign bribery laws as well as its OECD convention obligations by all G20 member nations,” said USCIB Vice President for Investment and Financial Services Shaun Donnelly. “International bribery is not only morally wrong, it is also an attack on the U.S. economy, our companies and workers following the highest standards of integrity. When foreign competitors use bribery and corruption to win business away from American companies and workers, that is a direct hit at our economy and is unacceptable. We look forward to working with our partners in this initiative and key U.S. Government agencies in the lead-up to the G20 senior meetings later this year to advance the battle against international bribery and corruption.”

USCIB Warns More Tariffs Will Harm US Companies, Consumers

In the continuing battle of tit-for-tat tariffs between the United States and China, USCIB submitted comments to the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) on July 23 regarding the proposed 25 percent tariffs on $16 billion worth of Chinese imports. This list of goods followed the first consultation on proposed 25% tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese imports, which resulted in the imposition of tariffs on $34 billion on July 6, 2018.

“Tariffs are a blunt tool with many unintended consequences on U.S. businesses,” said Eva Hampl who leads USCIB’s work on China. “They will significantly impact U.S. companies’ ability to export and create important jobs in the United States. They will also negatively impact U.S. customers, increasing competitiveness in the United States for foreign competitors. The Administration’s proposed tariff list was drawn up without significant input from the U.S. business or manufacturing community. The public comment process is the principal means to solicit information from U.S. businesses. Therefore, the Administration must use this process to ensure that its actions in this China 301 process do not inadvertently harm some of the most competitive sectors of the U.S. economy, and the hundreds of thousands of American jobs that depend on them. Tariffs should only be used as leverage toward a negotiated outcome and should not be imposed while negotiations are ongoing.”

USCIB’s comments also applauded the Administration for looking at alternative approaches, such as initiating a World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute by requesting consultations with the Chinese government regarding certain specific aspects of China’s technology regulations considered in the investigation. “In addition to engaging the WTO process, this should include developing a strategy with clearly defined objectives, direct negotiating mechanism with the Chinese, targeted deliverables, and deadlines with measurable results,” added Hampl. “The Administration should also coordinate in various available forums with like-minded trading partners who are similarly afflicted by China’s actions on intellectual property rights, forced technology transfer, and discriminatory industrial policies.”

USCIB’s comments to USTR were supplemented by a separate multi-association letter on $16 billion worth of tariffs. USCIB will also put together comments on the $200 billion list of proposed additional 10% tariffs on Chinese imports.

In BBC Interview, Mulligan Shares Thoughts on G20 Meeting

Rob Mulligan, USCIB

G20 Finance Ministers gathered in Argentina over the weekend to raise concerns over growing tensions between the United States and its major trading partners. Following the meetings, BBC’s Aaron Heslehurst spoke with USCIB Senior Vice President for Policy and Government Affairs Rob Mulligan as part of BBC’s Talking Business segment regarding international trade tensions that may undermine the global economy and stunt growth.

Mulligan expressed concern that continued escalation of tariffs may cause all kinds of problems for USCIB member companies. “Tariffs will lead to higher costs, drive higher prices for consumers and, we think, in the end, can start driving job losses,” warned Mulligan. “In fact, we’ve seen estimates for the existing tariffs related to steel and aluminum that can cause job losses in the United States of up to 140,000 jobs.”

Specifically, on U.S.-China tensions, Mulligan noted, “there are issues with China’s unfair trade practices that need to be addressed and we fully support an effort that would bring together all our allies to make that point with China, but we’re not sure that raising tariffs the way the President has threatened, even threating to impose tariffs on all 500 million of China’s exports to the United States, is going to be the way to solve that problem.”

To hear the entire interview, click here.

USCIB Sets Up New Anti-Illicit Trade Committee

Chaired by CEO of Luna Global Networks, group will focus on threats to global markets and governance

Washington, D.C., July 19, 2018 – Illicit trade is a threat multiplier that helps fuel transnational crime, corruption, and greater insecurity and instability around the world. To help combat it, the United States Council for International Business (USCIB), which represents America’s most innovative and successful global companies, announced the establishment of a new Anti-Illicit Trade (AIT) Committee to address the threat that Illicit trade poses across sectors, borders, markets and industries.

David M. Luna, president and CEO of Luna Global Networks & Convergence Strategies LLC, will chair and provide leadership for the committee, which will be made up of executives from USCIB’s broad-based membership. The AIT Committee will take a comprehensive, multi-disciplinary approach to elevating the fight against illicit trade, particularly related to the work of the OECD’s Task Force on Countering Illicit Trade, corresponding activity by Business at OECD (the Business and Industry Advisory Committee to the OECD), and the work of the International Chamber of Commerce’s Business Action to Stop Counterfeiting and Piracy (BASCAP) initiative.

“We are delighted to have David leading our work on brand protection and anti-illicit trade,” said Rob Mulligan, USCIB’s senior vice president for policy and government affairs. “USCIB recognizes the threat posed by illicit trade and related converging security threats to all economies, markets, and the reputational and economic impacts to our member companies. Today, global illicit markets account for several trillion dollars every year, and many experts predict that the value of counterfeit and pirated products alone will double within five years.”

With over 21 years’ experience in the U.S. government, Luna held numerous senior positions with the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, including directorships for national security, transnational crime and illicit networks, and anti-corruption and good governance, and served as an advisor to the secretary of state’s coordinator for the rule of law. Luna also served in the White House as an assistant counsel to the president, as well as in other positions with the Department of Labor and on the staff of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs.

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, the International Organization of Employers and Business at OECD, 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

Joint Statement by USCIB and ICC-UK on Enhancing Cross-Border Trade and Investment

London and New York, July 16, 2018 – The United States Council for International Business (USCIB), which serves as the American national committee of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), joined with its British counterpart ICC-United Kingdom in issuing the following joint statement today:

“On behalf of our respective business members, USCIB and ICC-UK pledge to work together to deepen commercial and diplomatic ties between our two countries. We will do so in solidarity with the worldwide business community represented by the International Chamber of Commerce network, and in the context of support for stronger multilateral rules and institutions, from which our societies derive tremendous benefits.

“We call on our two governments to also work together – and with other leading nations and regional blocs – to reduce barriers to trade, de-escalate recent actions to increase tariffs in many areas, and take action through the World Trade Organization and other international institutions to improve the climate for cross-border trade and investment.

“Our economies face critical barriers to entry and commercial challenges in key markets. We must address these together, in a spirit of common purpose, and with the understanding that concerted international action, rather than unilateralism, is the best approach. Failing to do so will harm not just our own national competitiveness, but the world’s ability to tackle key common challenges of promoting security and development.

“We further pledge to work together at the United Nations, World Trade Organization and G20 to improve the global business environment benefitting all companies of all sectors and sizes. We will focus on:

  • Championing inclusive free trade, robust international institutions and multilateral rules.
  • Supporting trade in goods and services through open borders, simplified customs, fair and modern tax and IP systems, and free movement of data.
  • Promoting responsible business conduct and good governance through self-regulation and improvement of best practices.
  • Championing sustainable economic growth through the implementation of the Paris Climate Accord, sustainable finance, smart cities and sustainable supply chains.

“We make this pledge as the International Chamber of Commerce prepares to mark its centenary next year. Founded as the “merchants of peace,” out of the ashes of the First World War, ICC continues to play a critical role in bringing the view of the private sector to the attention of governments at the highest levels, and in forging a path for business to lend its critical support to global goals of peace and sustainable development.”

About ICC-UK:
The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) is the largest world business organization representing 6.5 million companies in 130 countries. ICC provides a voice for business at inter-governmental level and is the only business organization with UN Observer Status. ICC United Kingdom is the representative office of ICC in the UK, supporting British business interests and working in partnership with UK business groups and government. ICC has three central functions: 1) Promote responsible free trade; 2) Provide the rules and standards that govern international business; and 3) Help companies and States settle international disputes. More at www.iccwbo.uk.

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, the International Organization of Employers and Business at OECD, 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, VP Communications
+1 212.703.5043 or jhuneke@uscib.org

USCIB: De-Escalate US-China Trade Conflict Now

Washington, D.C., July 6, 2018 – Responding to the latest round of tit-for-tat tariffs from the United States and China, the United States Council for International Business (USCIB), which represents America’s most competitive global companies, reiterated its call for the two countries to back away from an all-out trade war, urging them to take immediate steps to mediate the conflict through the World Trade Organization.

“Our members are already feeling the impact of earlier tariffs, in the form of rising costs and operational disruptions, and these latest moves will only make matters worse,” said USCIB President and CEO Peter M. Robinson. “We can expect further damage to the U.S. economy, workers, companies and consumers.

“While we appreciate the goal of the Trump administration to force the Chinese side to make concessions on its poor treatment of U.S. companies, we believe these tariffs will not have the desired effect. Rather, they will negatively impact the American economy and workforce, even if they are maintained for just a short time.”

Robinson continued: “The American business community is united in its belief that joint action, not unilateral escalation, is the best path to address important structural problems with China’s unfair trading behavior. We should be working with our allies, including via the WTO, to apply pressure on China in ways that do not unnecessarily harm U.S. farmers, workers, consumers and companies.

“USCIB calls upon the U.S. government, its allies and the Chinese government to develop a workable, measurable action plan for eliminating the trade barriers China has erected. This plan should contain benchmarks that are tied to penalties if China doesn’t stick to the agreement, but penalties that encourage China to do the right thing without burdening American businesses, workers and consumers in the process.”

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
jhuneke@uscib.org, +1 212.703.5043