Colombia Gets Approval to Join the OECD

Colombia will join the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development following an agreement among the 35-nation forum’s member states ahead of this week’s OECD ministerial.

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and OECD Secretary General Angel Gurría are expected to sign an accession agreement at the annual ministerial-level council meeting, which is scheduled for May 30, according to the OECD.

USCIB – which serves as the U.S. affiliate of Business at OECD, the representative private-sector voice in the OECD – issued the following statement:

“USCIB welcomes the progress Colombia has made over the past several years in the context of the accession process to the OECD. As the official voice representing U.S. business in this process, we acknowledge the steps taken by Colombia to meet the high standards of the OECD in various sectors. We look forward to continued progress and concrete actions being taken on outstanding issues, including on pharmaceuticals and trucking, where the current status does not yet rise to the level of like-mindedness with other OECD countries on open trade and investment. As the OECD considers inviting additional countries to join, USCIB will continue to advocate on behalf of U.S. business to ensure that all OECD countries continue to meet high standards.”

Somali Clampdown Causes Drop in Global Piracy

IMB’s annual global piracy report shows more than 300 people were taken hostage at sea last year and 21 were injured, nearly all with guns or knives. A total of 12 vessels were hijacked, 202 were boarded, 22 were fired upon and a further 28 reported attempted attacks. Nigerian pirates were particularly violent, killing one crew member, and kidnapping 36 people to hold onshore for ransom.

“The single biggest reason for the drop in worldwide piracy is the decrease in Somali piracy off the coast of East Africa,” said Captain Pottengal Mukundan, director of IMB, whose Piracy Reporting Center has monitored world piracy since 1991. IMB says Somali pirates have been deterred by a combination of factors, including the key role of international navies, the hardening of vessels and other recommendations in the shipping industry’s Best Management Practices, the use of private armed security teams and the stabilizing influence of Somalia’s central government.

“It is imperative to continue combined international efforts to tackle Somali piracy. Any complacency at this stage could re-kindle pirate activity,” warned Captain Mukundan.

Read more on ICC’s website.

Staff contact: Jonathan Huneke

IMB Piracy Report Highlights Violence in West Africa

4556_image001Somali piracy has fallen to its lowest levels since 2006, focusing attention on violent piracy and armed robbery off the coast of West Africa, the International Chamber of Commerce International Maritime Bureau (IMB)’s global piracy report revealed today.

Worldwide, the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre (PRC) recorded 138 piracy incidents in the first six months of 2013, compared with 177 incidents for the corresponding period in 2012. Seven hijackings have been recorded this year compared with 20 in the first half of 2012. The number of sailors taken hostage also fell dramatically; down to 127 this year from 334 in the first six months of 2012.

In the Gulf of Guinea, in addition to a rise in piracy and armed robbery – 31 incidents so far this year, including four hijackings – IMB reports a surge in kidnappings at sea and a wider range of ship types being targeted. This is a new cause for concern in a region already known for attacks against vessels in the oil industry and theft of gas oil from tankers.

“There has been a worrying trend in the kidnapping of crew from vessels well outside the territorial limits of coastal states in the Gulf of Guinea,” said Pottengal Mukundan, director of IMB, which has monitored world piracy since 1991. “There continues to be significant under-reporting of attacks – a phenomenon highlighted by the IMB year on year. This prevents meaningful response by the authorities and endangers other vessels sailing into the area unaware of the precise nature of the threat.”

Mr. Mukundan applauded the signing of the Code of Conduct Concerning the Repression of Piracy, Armed Robbery Against Ships, and Illicit Maritime Activity in West and Central Africa in June 2013 by the heads of the West and Central African countries.

Latest attacks may be viewed on the IMB Live Piracy Map.

Click here to read more in ICC’s website.

Staff contact: Nasim Deylami

More on USCIB’s Transportation Committee

USCIB Urges Closer Cooperation on Air Cargo Security

In June, USCIB urged the heads of U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Transportation Security Administration to work more closely to improve air cargo security, including taking other countries’ rules and regulations into account when implementing new air cargo security rules.

In a letter to Customs chief Alan Bersin and TSA Administrator John Pistole, USCIB President and CEO Peter M. Robinson commended the two agencies for working with the private sector to implement protocols and rules of engagement for the air cargo security program, and expressed hope that heightened interagency cooperation would continue to ensure a streamlined program.

On the international aspect of new security rules, Mr. Robinson wrote: “Although CBP recently suggested increasing the number of countries in the pilot program from 28 to 42 countries, … we urge that any increase be done with significant private sector consultation to ensure the proper consideration of issues such as timing and availability of information, volume of shipments for each country, as well as data privacy rules and regulatory hurdles in each country. USCIB urges CBP and TSA to assess the regulatory environment in other countries before increasing the scope of this pilot program.”


USCIB letter on air cargo security

More on USCIB’s Customs and Trade Facilitation Committee

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Global Business Seeks Coordinated Action to Curb Maritime Piracy

Map_CompassAgainst the backdrop of ever-more aggressive forays by Somali pirates against shipping in the Indian Ocean, USCIB President and CEO Peter M. Robinson recently wrote to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other top administration officials involved in national security to draw attention to a global Call for Action on Piracy, issued by our affiliate the International Chamber of Commerce at the May 25-27 International Transport Forum in Leipzig, Germany.

ICC calls on governments to take immediate action to improve the rules of engagement given to the navies present in the Indian Ocean, to refocus the efforts of the United Nations and other international bodies to ensure that required institutions in south-central Somalia are established to maintain economic and social standards, and to hold pirates accountable for their conduct.

In the past year, there has been an escalation in both violence and the number of attacks on ships and crew in the area off the coast of Somalia. According to ICC’s International Maritime Bureau, there were 219 attacks off Somalia in 2010, in which 49 vessels were hijacked and 1,016 crew members taken hostage.

Despite measures taken by the UN Security Council and the presence of naval units in the area, pirates continue to strike with increasing violence. In addition to placing individuals and crews in danger, piracy is disrupting international trade and shipping. In 2010, the One Earth Foundation estimated the economic cost of piracy on the supply chain to be in the range of $7-12 billion.

In the call to action, ICC “urges governments to recognize that piracy, in addition to its effect on the safety of seafarers, has an important financial impact on global trade and shipping, and furthermore poses increased threat on the stability and security of energy supply lines not only for major industrial nations.”

The ICC Call for Action on Piracy has been endorsed by over 20 CEOs from key shipping and trading companies around the world.


ICC Call to Action on Piracy

More on USCIB’s Customs and Trade Facilitation Committee

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USCIB letter to Senator Lugar on Ratification of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea

May 10, 2004

The Honorable Richard Lugar

Chairman, Committee on Foreign Relations

450 Dirksen Senate Office Building

Washington DC 20510

Dear Mr. Chairman:

I am writing on behalf of the members of the United States Council for International Business (USCIB) to urge timely Senate action to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

The USCIB promotes an open system of global commerce in which business can flourish and contribute to economic growth, human welfare and the protection of the environment.  Its membership includes some 300 leading U.S. companies, professional services firms and associations whose combined annual revenues exceed $3 trillion.  As American affiliate of the International Chamber of Commerce, the International Organization of Employers, and the Business and Industry Advisory Committee to the OECD, USCIB provides business views to policy makers and regulatory authorities worldwide and works to facilitate international trade. 

The United States played a leading role in negotiating the Convention in the 1970’s and early 1980’s, and led a successful effort to revise the deep-sea mining provisions of the Convention in a manner that meets U.S. interests.  Subsequently, the United States signed the Convention in 1994, but has yet to ratify.

The United States has vital economic, political and security interests that will be advanced through ratification.  By ratifying the United States will:

  • be able to restore our leadership in securing the common interest in navigational freedom and the rule of law in the oceans;
  • be more effective in our efforts to protect our naval mobility and commercial navigational freedom;
  • be able to develop more rapidly its oil and gas resources  of the continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles;
  • foster the rule of law in international affairs.

While some have argued that the Convention will impinge upon the sovereignty of the United States, I believe this is not the case.  Indeed, because the Convention advances U.S. national objectives in the areas it covers in a manner that will enhance our economic, political and security interests, it will in fact strengthen our country, and make it better able to defend our sovereignty as needed. On behalf of our members, I urge members of the United States Senate to ratify the Convention.

Thomas M. T.  Niles

More on USCIB’s Transportation Committee

UN website