New York, N.Y., May 14, 2007 – The United States Council for International Business (USCIB), which represents hundreds of America’s top global companies, welcomed the agreement between the White House and Congress on a new trade policy “template,” which it said should clear the way toward approval of pending U.S. free trade pacts and renewal of the president’s trade negotiating authority.
USCIB, the U.S. affiliate of the International Organization of Employers, which represents business in the International Labor Organization, said it was especially pleased that negotiators had forged a compromise approach to incorporating international labor principles into U.S. trade agreements that recognizes the role of the ILO to help its member countries advance labor conditions.
USCIB President Peter M. Robinson applauded the efforts of U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab and Rep. Charles Rangel, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, to conclude the deal.
“Ambassador Schwab and Chairman Rangel have worked tirelessly to forge a bilateral consensus on trade policy, paving the way for further trade liberalization that will benefit business, workers, consumers and farmers,” stated Mr. Robinson. He noted that, at last December’s USCIB annual award dinner, Congressman Rangel had underscored his strong interest in promoting a forward-looking trade agenda. “The Chairman delivered, and we are most appreciative.”
Mr. Robinson said the way was now clear to gain approval of the free trade agreements currently before the Congress. “Hopefully, Congress will approve these FTAs and extend the president’s trade promotion authority,” he stated. “Extension of trade authority is urgently needed to generate movement in the Doha Round, which is a high priority for U.S. business.”
Mr. Robinson said he was gratified that the agreement’s labor provisions prominently feature the International Labor Organization’s Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, which was developed at the initiative of the International Organization of Employers’ members, including USCIB. The ILO’s tripartite structure encompasses representation from governments, employers and trade unions, so the ILO declaration’s principles have the support of all three groups in the U.S. and internationally. It is therefore appropriate to reaffirm them in U.S. trade agreements as objectives that all countries should recognize and strive to realize in their national laws.
USCIB said it recognized that the negotiations on transforming the agreement, presently in the form of a joint “concept paper,” into legislation would require continued bipartisan cooperation between the Executive Branch and Congress. It also recognizes that concerns may persist in the business community on non-labor issues covered by the agreement, particularly on intellectual property. “We are confident that, at the end of the day, the same sense of bipartisanship that led to this agreement will carry forward in the drafting of actual legislation,” stated Mr. Robinson.
The United States Council for International Business promotes an open system of global commerce in which business can flourish and contribute to economic growth, human welfare and protection of the environment. Its membership includes more than 300 leading U.S. companies, professional services firms and associations whose combined annual revenues exceed $3.5 trillion. As the exclusive American affiliate of three key global business groups – 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.
Jonathan Huneke, USCIB
Tel: +1 212 703 5043 or +1 917 420 0039 (mobile)