Hampl Gives Testimony on US-UK Trade Agreement

Eva Hampl provided testimony before the Trade Policy Staff Committee, chaired by USTR, on January 29.
USCIB supports negotiation of a comprehensive trade agreement with the UK as part of a broader strategy to open international markets for U.S. companies and remove barriers and unfair trade practices in support of U.S. jobs.


Following USCIB’s submission on January 16 to USTR regarding negotiating objectives for a U.S.-UK Trade Agreement, USCIB Senior Director for Investment, Trade and Financial Services Eva Hampl provided testimony before the Trade Policy Staff Committee, chaired by USTR, on January 29.

“USCIB supports negotiation of a comprehensive trade agreement with the UK as part of a broader strategy to open international markets for U.S. companies and remove barriers and unfair trade practices in support of U.S. jobs,” said Hampl in her testimony. “We strongly believe that continued U.S.-UK free trade is overwhelmingly in the interests of both countries and their global trading partners, provided that the agreement is a high standard and comprehensive bilateral trade and investment agreement. A successful trade agreement with the UK should cover not just market access for goods, but also address important services issues.”

Hampl’s testimony also emphasized the importance of regulatory cohesion across the United States, the UK and the European market as a key component in further liberalizing trade. Regulatory discrimination and differentiation between trade partners can be an obstacle to trade, investment and the ability to conduct business. Affected sectors include pharmaceuticals, chemicals and fintech.

Hampl also raised the issue of digital trade. “U.S. companies rely on cross-border data flows as part of their day-to-day operations,” said Hampl. “A U.S.-UK agreement should include requirements that data can flow unimpeded across borders except for limited and well-defined public policy exceptions, ensuring that they are not used as disguised barriers to trade.”

Regarding intellectual property (IP) protection, Hampl noted that at a minimum, a U.S.-UK agreement should enshrine existing protections and enforcement mechanisms. It should also address sectoral IP issues, such as in the pharmaceutical space.

To read Hampl’s testimony, please click here.

USCIB Op-Ed: Time for Some ‘Tough Love’ at the UN

U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley (credit: U.S. Mission to the UN)

The Hill has published an op-ed by USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson on UN reform — see below. The op-ed is also available on The Hill’s website.

This op-ed follows on a letter to the New York Times on the same topic last month, as well as an op-ed on UN funding in January. It further advances USCIB’s position that the UN must work more effectively with the private sector and other stakeholders to advance shared goals.


The Hill

May 1, 2017


Ambassador Haley needs to dole out some ‘tough love’ to United Nations

By Peter Robinson, opinion contributor

Critics of the United Nations are gaining ground in Washington. Proposals to defund and disengage from the U.N. have been put forward on Capitol Hill and by the Trump administration in its proposed budget.

As a longtime observer of, and participant in the U.N. representing the American business community, I’d like to offer some unsolicited advice to Ambassador Nikki R. Haley, the U.S. representative to the U.N., on how we could work to improve the global body.

The U.N. deserves a lot of the criticism being leveled at it. Many observers, myself included, acknowledge that parts of the U.N. system often suffer from poor management, an inability to efficiently set and meet priorities and the tendency to take an unbalanced view toward certain stakeholders.

This is evident in the organization’s attitude toward the private sector. There have indeed been positive experiences, such as in the U.N. 2030 Development Agenda, where the U.N. is reaching out to the private sector to meet commonly agreed goals of poverty reduction, environmental protection and better governance.

But too often, in many parts of the U.N. system, the business community is still regarded with suspicion, and its motives are called into question or criticized as a conflict of interest. With criticism of the U.N. on the rise, now is the time for the United States to push for effective reform. Here are four areas where the U.S. could exercise some “tough love” in the United Nations.

First, insist on good management. Financial resources are scarce, and we need to know that our taxpayer dollars are being used wisely. New U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres has pledged to make the organization leaner and more effective.

Work with him to increase the ability of the U.N. Office of Internal Oversight Services to act as a truly independent “inspector general” throughout the U.N. system, with direct reporting back to U.N. governing bodies authorized to take specific action on recommendations.

Second, demand more transparency and accountability. The U.N. has taken steps to open its doors to non-governmental entities, but much more needs to be done, particularly from the standpoint of the business community. Too often, the U.N. sets global norms and standards with little or no input from outside stakeholders, including the private sector.

This is unfortunate, especially given the extent to which business is looked to for funding, innovation and implementation in such areas as climate change, improved nutrition and better health care. In addition, some U.N. agencies, such as the World Health Organization, actively blacklist business organizations from even observing their activities. This damages the U.N.’s credibility and effectiveness.

Third, ensure the U.N. avoids redundancy and mission creep. While the U.N. plays a central role in global governance, it cannot and should not do everything or have the final say. United Nations negotiators are sometimes too eager to take up issues already being addressed elsewhere, like in global taxation, data and privacy issues, or intellectual property rights.

This not only wastes government time and money, it creates uncertainty and confusion for companies and everyone else. The U.S. should guide the U.N. and its specialized agencies to focus their resources on areas where they can add the most value and where they have a clear mandate.

One way to do this would be to develop stricter guidelines for voluntary contributions from member states, which are usually funds over and above assessed contributions for pet projects that often deviate from an agency’s mission.

Fourth, and perhaps most important, encourage the U.N. to partner with the private sector. Governments can’t do everything. The World Bank estimates that effectively tackling global problems of poverty, health, job creation and energy access will require trillions of dollars over the next 15 years, with much of that coming from the private sector in the form of project finance and foreign investment.

But this won’t happen if business views are sidelined or ignored. The U.S. should spur the U.N. to step up its partnerships with companies in such areas as innovation, infrastructure and investment.

Ambassador Haley should focus especially on U.N. agencies and bodies that have kept the business community in the dark or at arm’s length. Organizations such as the WHO and U.N. Human Rights Commission have drifted away from their core agendas and have enacted counterproductive restrictions on business — a key community which is keen to bring resources, expertise and implementation to advance their respective missions.

We should insist on inclusive and transparent governance in the U.N., with an open door for responsible actors from civil society, including the private sector.

The United Nations has made important progress, and it must continue to seek out new opportunities for collaboration that can improve lives and increase prosperity in the United States and around the world.  But none of this can happen if the United States is not at the table. The U.N. was in large part an American creation. It’s going to be up to us to try to fix it.

Peter M. Robinson is president and CEO of the United States Council for International Business.


USCIB in the News: Op-ed in The Hill on UN Funding

un_headquarters_lo-resUSCIB President and CEO Peter M. Robinson published a timely op-ed in The Hill addressing recent calls in Congress to withhold or withdraw U.S. funding for the United Nations. The op-ed, reprinted below, is also available on The Hill’s website.

This op-ed comes as President-elect Trump’s top appointees, including his proposed foreign policy team, are on Capitol Hill for Senate confirmation hearings. We encourage you to share the op-ed with your colleagues and others who may be interested.

The Hill

January 11, 2017

Walking away from the UN would harm US economic interests

By Peter M. Robinson, opinion contributor

With President-elect Trump’s key foreign policy nominees facing Senate confirmation hearings this week and next, some lawmakers on Capitol Hill are threatening to withhold or slash U.S. funding for the United Nations.

This would be a bad idea, both for American power and influence, and for our economic interests. It would be especially risky for U.S. companies and workers.

My organization — The United States Council for International Business — has represented American business views to the U.N. and other international organizations for decades.

We know the U.N. sometimes fails to measure up to our expectations, particularly when it and its specialized agencies have provided a platform for anti-business views. Why do we put up with this? Why shouldn’t we just take our chips and go home?

Quite simply, because we know that no country, including the United States, can go it alone. A strong U.S. presence in the U.N. enhances our influence and our overall security.

More than ever, at a time when terrorism, cybersecurity threats, disease pandemics and refugee crises can disrupt our lives, we need the kind of platform for close international cooperation and collective action that the U.N. can provide.

This is especially true for American companies with customers, employees and operations around the world. While we may not agree with everything the U.N. does, it is simply not in our interest to withdraw support.

We in the private sector see an urgent need for the United States to stick up for its economic interests in the U.N.

For instance, in the negotiations that culminated in the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, the U.S. had to push back hard against proposals to undermine protection for innovation and intellectual property rights, to assign historical liability for loss and damage from natural disasters, and to ban certain technologies or energy options important to U.S. energy security and climate risk reduction.

Without strong U.S. leadership, these initiatives would have carried the day, hampering American jobs and competitiveness.

At their best, the U.N. and similar bodies set global standards and develop rules that allow U.S. businesses to plan and invest.

Recent U.N. initiatives that have helped American business and our economy include agreements that support a fundamentally “hands-off” approach to the global Internet and guidelines laying out the roles and responsibilities of the private sector and governments in upholding human rights.

Moreover, the U.N. has recently developed the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), addressing an array of challenges, from ending global poverty and hunger to ensuring access to energy, for the next decade and beyond.

The SDGs were developed in close partnership with the private sector, which will be responsible for “delivering the goods” in many, if not most, measures of success.

So, is the U.N. perfect? Far from it, but withholding funding or walking away from the U.N. won’t change that.

Like it or not, it is part of the fundamental infrastructure for global economic activity. Like other infrastructure, the U.N. is desperately in need of repair to meet the needs of the 21st century.

If we play our cards right, this can be a century of American-led innovation and entrepreneurship. President-elect Trump’s administration should insist that the U.N. live up to its potential, defending and advancing U.S. interests in the influential world body.

Business will be there to help. Just last month, the U.N. afforded highly-selective Observer Status in the U.N. General Assembly to the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), the business organization that represents enterprises across the globe in numerous U.N. deliberations.

This is an important sign of progress, indicating that the U.N. recognizes the need to work more effectively with business.

(Full disclosure: My organization serves as ICC’s American chapter and we pushed hard in support of ICC’s application.)

Congress should meet U.S. funding obligations and work with the Trump administration to hold the U.N. accountable to the U.S. and other member governments, as well as to economic stakeholders in the business community.

Strong engagement and leadership in the global body by the United States is an opportunity too important to lose. American security, jobs and economic opportunities are at stake if the U.S. were to indeed walk away.

Peter M. Robinson is president and CEO of the United States Council for International Business. He is an appointee to the President’s Committee on the International Labor Organization and the Secretary of State’s Advisory Committee on Public-Private Partnerships. Robinson holds a master’s degree in international affairs from Columbia University.

The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the views of The Hill.

Closing Remarks by USCIB Peter Robinson to OECD Ministerial on the Future of the Internet

Peter Robinson

President and CEO, United States Council for International Business

Closing Remarks for OECD Ministerial on the Future of the Internet

Seoul, June 18, 2008


Congratulations to Korea and the OECD on organizing such an impressive ministerial meeting!

The discussions over the last 3 days have been interesting and insightful in looking to the future and the role of all stakeholders along this path.

On behalf of the business community, let me applaud Ministers for signing a Declaration that lays out a clear path to the future Internet economy. We are especially pleased to see that our vision shares many of the same hopes and expectations as those that are outlined in the Declaration.

This Ministerial has successfully built on the previous Ministerial, which focused on e-commerce. The last 10 years have shown us that the Internet is much more than a new platform on which to conduct business.  It has become intertwined with every aspect of our lives and economies. The next 10 years will allow us to further realize the potential of the Internet to better our societies, both developed and developing, and to bring more of the world’s people online to create, communicate and collaborate as part of their business and personal lives.

Our vision of the future Internet is characterized by a virtuous circle of investment and innovation, fueled by creativity and empowering users. The future Internet will also be characterized by increased user participation and choice of applications, products and services provided through a wide variety of high capacity platforms that are more available, affordable and user-friendly. The Internet will facilitate greater productivity and expanded access, to, and quality of, education, skills development and healthcare. Innovative ICT solutions will help us address challenges such as the environment.


Role of business

The Ottawa ministerial established a precedent for a regulatory framework that recognized the need for private sector leadership and flexibility to enable innovation. Since, the convergence of voice, data, video and audio on the Internet, driven by the extensive deployment of competing IP-based networks, has enabled innovation to thrive , empowering consumers and enhancing opportunities for further growth and innovation.

Going forward, we need to understand how the next level of convergence will impact business. Further investment will be needed to provide adequate capacity, security and capabilities for future Internet-supported development and connectivity.  Business will also work with other stakeholders to develop market-driven technical standards that will enable the Internet’s ongoing expansion.



The Internet is also facilitating an unprecedented level of collaboration and interaction in commercial as well as social settings. The application of ICTs to learning, health, the environment and professional and social networking enables the robust exchange of information and knowledge. A confluence of factors—has created a fertile environment for users to become creators and publishers in their own right.  Pervasive, speedy, intelligent and affordable broadband access, provided through capable high capacity networks is vital to the future growth of these and other innovative offerings. Preserving and fostering the incentive to create is also vital to the continued migration of content to the online world. The protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights, which supports and encourages users to make legitimate use of content, play an important role in this regard.



Security and privacy will be increasingly important- not just because of increased threats, but also because emerging technologies may provide more seamless ways of collecting and using information. User trust and confidence in these new technologies will enable faster adoption and greater access to the benefits they can provide.

Today, businesses deploy a variety of technologies to meet customer needs and to build confidence in the online environment, and also actively leads educational initiatives in Internet privacy and safety.  While there is no silver bullet to stop cyber-crime, business is committed to working with governments and other stakeholders to effectively address this problem.

But in the end, improved education, innovative technology widespread dissemination and adoption of industry best practices; and effective law enforcement will be most effective in addressing these threats to Internet users’ privacy and safety and ensuring the continued integrity of the Internet.


Role of governments

We commend Ministers for their commitment to establish and maintain policy frameworks that will promote a trusted Internet-based environment, continued investment and increasing competition that will lead to expanded Internet access worldwide, increased innovation and user choice.  Indeed, such frameworks are essential for the future Internet economy.

Ministers have taken the important step to reaffirm the principles that enabled a new platform for commerce to evolve into a new platform for all aspects of life and declaring to contribute towards further development of the global Internet economy. While a framework that promotes continued technology innovation is crucial, we must keep in mind that ICTs are a means to achieve growth and societal benefit rather than an end in themselves.


The role of governments is fundamental for four key objectives:

  1. Ensuring that any new measures or incentives have a positive impact on infrastructure investment, innovation and the growth of the Internet
  2. Enforcing existing laws, particularly criminal laws, which address harmful and/or illegal online activities and coordination across relevant agencies and jurisdictions
  3. Recognizing the continued importance of market-driven, consensus-based global standards and the leadership of the private sector in their development
  4. Developing policies that stimulate the availability of and demand for network development, deployment, and interconnectivity, and the availability of different devices and modes of connectivity to increase Internet penetration


Role of OECD:

Finally, after Seoul,  as governments work towards further implementation of the commitments made here, careful attention should be paid to the important, unique and beneficial role that the OECD plays. The OECD will continue to be instrumental in working with all stakeholders to further the achievements of the Ottawa and Seoul Ministerial Conferences, in particular by producing neutral, fact-based economic reports that examine current market conditions and the impact of new developments, emerging technologies and any potential policy questions. The OECD also facilitates co-ordination and consistency of broad policy frameworks across Member economies by providing a forum for dialogue, involving all stakeholders.

In closing, I’d like to emphasize that all stakeholders must continue to work together, each according to their role, to address the challenges faced by the global economy, to promote the continued growth of the Internet and bring its benefits to more of the world’s people. Today, the private sector continues to lead the way in the innovation and development of ever-more efficient and focused services, applications, content, devices and networks that allow more users to share in the benefits of the Internet. We look forward to working with governments, civil society, the technical community and the OECD to nurture the powerful potential of the Internet economy.

More on USCIB’s Information, Communications and Technology Committee

OECD website