USCIB Foundation Hosts Summit of the Future Roundtable to Tackle Climate Change Across the Global Pact for the Future

Left to Right: Ambassador Chris Lu, U.S. Mission to the UN; Ambassador Norberto Moretti, Brazil Mission to the UN; Chris Sharrock, Microsoft; and Whitney Baird, President & CEO, USCIB.

On July 17, The USCIB Foundation and the Moving the Needle initiative convened a roundtable: Navigating the UN Summit of the Future and Beyond with Business: Tackling Climate Change Across the Global Pact for the Future. 

The event, hosted by Microsoft, highlighted the importance of private sector engagement and partnership in impact, relevant to the draft UN Pact for the Future and the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. As the impact of climate change is felt around the world in the form of extreme weather events and hotter summer weather, the subject matter is no longer just an academic exercise. 

Featured speakers included: 

  • Whitney Baird, President & CEO, USCIB 
  • Ambassador Chris Lu, US Ambassador for UN Management and Reform 
  • Ambassador Norberto Moretti, Deputy Permanent Representative of Brazil to the UN 

In her opening remarks, Baird noted that USCIB has been a part of the discussions that led to the 2030 agenda, and we intend to follow through in this effort. USCIB’s partners, including the IOE and ICC, have embraced this agenda: “Today’s meeting reflects that collective commitment and effort. USCIB is and always has been committed to the essential role of the UN and multilateral institutions overall.”  

USCIB has been a steadfast supporter of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and its Paris Agreement since 1993. USCIB has been present at every COP and examines both long term and very immediate challenges.  

USCIB’s Senior Vice President for Policy and Global Strategy Norine Kennedy speaking at the event.

The roundtable discussion was robust and solutions-oriented, founded on USCIB’s support for the importance of multilateral institutions, including how businesses can help UN decisionmakers innovate in policy design and delivery; the complicated and sometimes confusing entry points businesses face in order to engage with the UN; and the ability of the private sector to bring integrated quantifiable data and other tools and forms of expertise to inform global decisions and policies. 

A key theme was the importance of private sector engagement and partnership in action, as an indispensable part of a stronger, more effective UN fit to tackle current and future challenges. An engaged private sector is critical to the UN being able to deliver on its goals: advancing energy transitions, reducing unabated greenhouse gas emissions and mobilizing resources for mitigation and adaptation are just a few elements of a comprehensive climate change agenda on economic and social levels. 

Roundtable attendees included representatives of diplomatic missions, UN system officials, academic and think tank leaders, and executives from business and private sector organizations. This session was the third in a series, building on prior roundtables on innovation and infrastructure. Its takeaways and proposals will be reflected in the development of a Business “Pact” for the Future. 

USCIB Participates in UN HLPF Events

USCIB’s Senior Vice President for Policy and Global Strategy Norine Kennedy speaking at the UN HLPF on July 12.

This week, USCIB was active in a number of engagements throughout the United Nation’s High Level Political Forum (HLPF) in New York, focusing this year on action towards SDGs on poverty eradication, zero hunger and climate change. USCIB member Julie DiNatale, Chief Sustainability Officer, FMC Corporation, delivered remarks at the Opening Plenary of the HLPF, speaking to the importance of multi-stakeholder solutions to deliver food security. 

USCIB President and CEO Whitney Baird and USCIB’s Senior Vice President for Policy and Global Strategy Norine Kennedy met with Ambassador Bob Rae, the Canadian Ambassador to the UN and the incoming chair of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), which oversees sustainable development across the UN. They discussed the importance of engaging with business on key issues that ECOSOC will address in the years ahead, and USCIB’s support for maintaining close ties with the UN. 

Baird and Kennedy also met with Roberto Suárez Santos, Secretary General of the IOE 

and Ambassador Hedda Samson, Deputy Head of Delegation of the EU to the United Nations in New York. 

USCIB serves as the co-chair of the Business and Industry Major Group (BIMG) to the UN in New York and joined the BIMG virtual side event on July 11 on multilateralism, business and climate change action. USCIB speakers included Whitney Baird, Justin Perrettson, Novonesis and Co-Chair of USCIB Environment Committee, and Agnes Vinblad, USCIB’s Director, Environment and Sustainable Development. 

USCIB Hosts Meeting with OECD and USG on Top Tech Issues

Left to right: USCIB Vice President for Digital Policy Cheryl Miller; Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Cyberspace at the US State Department Liesyl Franz; and Head of Digital Policy, Economics and Measurement at the OECD Molly Lesher. 

On July 10, USCIB Vice President for Digital Policy Cheryl Miller moderated an event featuring Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Cyberspace at the US State Department Liesyl Franz and Head of Digital Policy, Economics and Measurement at the OECD Molly Lesher. 

Franz provided an overview of the State Department’s new International Cyberspace and Digital Policy Strategy, released in May. The implementation plan is public, which allows for transparency when progress is being made, accountability for the US government, and encourages the tech community to play a helpful role. Franz also spoke about “digital solidarity” as a framing concept for the strategy, which leads to greater predictability and cohesion; and the difference between the ticket price and the total cost of ownership when it comes to cybersecurity.  

Lesher highlighted the OECD’s work on cybersecurity and AI featured in the Digital Economy Outlook and presented AI trends over time. The OECD has taken innovative approaches to measuring uncertainty in cyberspace, including assessing news reports and online searches to identify and anticipate trends. 

Miller reminded event attendees that USCIB launched an AI webpage earlier this year that includes policy recommendations that realize the best of AI while also addressing the risks factors.”  

“Discussions around AI governance are ongoing topics at the OECD and we are glad to be a part of the conversation,” said Miller. 

USCIB Statement on Canadian Digital Services Tax

USCIB was disappointed that on June 28, Canada moved forward with its discriminatory and retroactive Digital Services Tax. Taking this step to implement a measure that targets US companies is inconsistent with Canada’s international commitments, will serve to undermine the US-Canada trade relationship, and will set a dangerous precedent for other countries to copy — all to the detriment of the international tax and trade systems.

As we, and numerous other industry groups recommended in our recent letter to US Trade Representative Katherine Tai, the US must take prompt and decisive action and initiate formal dispute settlement procedures with Canada through consultations under the US-Mexico-Canada Free Trade Agreement (USMCA). The increased costs of these actions will be felt by small businesses and other consumers of targeted products and services, stoking inflation.

USTR has already found less egregious measures to be unreasonable, burdensome, and discriminatory. Our trade agreements are only protective of US interests to the extent we can expect our trading partners — particularly with strong geographic and economic connections — to follow the terms of our agreements. Congress, on a bipartisan basis, has frequently reiterated this important point. The world is watching, and it is critical that the Administration responds to these discriminatory actions.

USCIB Quoted in Bloomberg Tax International

PepsiCo Inc.’s victory on royalty taxes in an Australian appeals court stands to pose an obstacle for the nation’s tax authorities as they continue their crackdown on multinational companies. 

“The decision underscores how important it is for companies to draft their contracts properly and precisely when dealing with trademarks or other valuable intangibles,” said USCIB’s Senior Vice President for International Tax Counsel Rick Minor. 

“The ruling ‘adds insight’ as to when embedded royalties might be found in a transaction under Australian law even when companies didn’t intend them, and companies should try to eliminate any ambiguities in their arrangements that might prompt tax authorities to initiate an audit,” Minor continued. 

Read the full article here (paywall enforced). 

USCIB Leads a Coalition of Business Groups Defending FTA ‘Investor Safeguards’ as Key to Biden Agenda

In a June 20 letter, several major business groups joined USCIB in defending investor safeguards in existing trade agreements amid a push by some lawmakers and civil society organizations to remove them. The letter makes the key point that investor “safeguards” are critical to facilitate foreign direct investment that advances the administration’s goals to facilitate the green transition, bolster supply chain resilience, and counter the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative.  

 

Read the letter here and a related Inside US Trade article here (paywall enforced). 

USCIB Foundation Hosts Summit of the Future Roundtable to Encourage Public and Private Sector Partnership in Reaching Sustainable Development Goals

USCIB Foundation Hosts Summit of the Future Roundtable.

On June 26, The USCIB Foundation and the Moving the Needle initiative convened a roundtable: Navigating the UN Summit of the Future and Beyond with Business: Investing in People-Centered Infrastructure Across the Global Pact for the Future. The Global Pact for the Future will be the main outcome of the UN Summit of the Future this year and is expected to drive a new agenda of international cooperation and UN reform on key issues for business, such as innovative technologies and private sector finance.

The event, hosted by Bechtel, focused on reimagining the role of business in infrastructure investment and implementation for impact, with emphasis on private sector engagement and partnership in action, relevant to the draft UN Pact for the Future and the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Featured speakers included:

  • Whitney Baird, President & CEO, USCIB
  • Tam Nguyen, President, Bechtel.org Impact Company, and USCIB Board Member
  • Russell Singer, Infrastructure Development Unit Chief in the Office of Development Finance, State/EB
  • Andrew Wilson, Executive Director, Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE)

The discussion covered a number of topics, from the infrastructure investment gap to the need for younger generations to take a leading role in dialogue with business to inform UN deliberations. A key theme was the need for more data to help inform decisions and priorities, and guide investors toward sustainable, high-quality investments in infrastructure. The main issue facing infrastructure isn’t the lack of capital, but the lack of bankable projects. Better data can lead to a fuller pipeline of certified projects, which can then in turn help raise standards and deliver co-benefits in the form of jobs, capacity building and trade opportunities.

A primary example of people-centered infrastructure investment collaboration was the Blue Dot Network, a voluntary, private-sector-focused and government-supported certification scheme for infrastructure projects. It aims to drive synergies between infrastructure and sustainable development. The idea of benefiting people and maintain core standards and values is integral to the Blue Dot Network.

Investment and local growth is not an either/or discussion; the answer is investment and local growth. Good governance provides a better platform for sustainable growth. A challenge worth taking on is how to transfer global standards into local action.

Towards the end of the discussion, USCIB’s Senior VP for Policy and Global Strategy Norine Kennedy previewed the progress to date on the Business Pact for the Future: “Responsible business engagement and input in support of the UN is more vital than ever. Business can be an important resource vital to UN success and delivery of the 2030 Agenda and the Global Pact for the Future,” said Kennedy. “The potential for co-creation and leveraging expertise and resources is significant, and we look forward to advancing the UN’s effectiveness and inclusiveness through private sector partnership and dialogue.”

USCIB Host Joint OECD-BIAC-USCIB Anti-Illicit Trade Discussion

From left to right: OECD’s Leonor Sanhueza and Piotr Stryszowski, USCIB Senior Director of Customs and Trade Facilitation Megan Giblin, incoming USCIB AITC Chair Jennifer Lane, and USCIB advisor and BIAC AITEG Chair David Luna.

On June 25, the USCIB DC office hosted a joint OECD – Business at OECD (BIAC) – USCIB Anti-Illicit Trade discussion around the work policy program of the OECD Working Party on Countering Illicit Trade (WP-CIT), where its work in quantifying, characterizing, and increasing understanding of emerging challenges in illicit trade through evidence-based research helps industry address those challenges in a strategic, coordinated, and more effective manner.

During the USCIB and BIAC member only discussion we talked about critical need for public private partnerships (PPPs) in this space and discussed priority topics of both the USCIB Anti-Illicit Trade Committee (AITC) as well as BIAC Anti-Illicit Trade Expert Group (AITEG) including transparency for online marketplaces, investor funded IP litigation, and Free Trade Zones. This was a great opportunity to build on previous in-person meetings during OECD staff visits to Washington, DC.

USCIB Senior Director of Customs and Trade Facilitation Megan Giblin was joined in-person by OECD’s Piotr Stryszowski and Leonor Sanhueza, the incoming USCIB AITC Chair Jennifer Lane, USCIB advisor and BIAC AITEG Chair David Luna, and USCIB member company delegates. We were joined remotely by BIAC’s AITEG leads Emma Brierley and Minami Kakuda, BIAC AITEG Co-Vice Chair Susan Wilson, and other USCIB and/or BIAC members.

USCIB Hosted Conversation with OECD Deputy Director for Trade Julia Nielson

From left to right: USCIB’s SVP for Trade, Investment, and Digital Policy Alice Slayton Clark, Deputy Director for the Trade and Agriculture Directorate (TAD) at the OECD Julia Nielson; and Head of OECD’s Washington Center Susan Fridy.

On June 20, USCIB hosted a member discussion with Julia Nielson, Deputy Director for the Trade and Agriculture Directorate (TAD) at the OECD. Deputy Director Nielson provided a detailed review of OECD work on the key issues before TAD, including data flow, digital trade, supply chain resiliency, industrial subsidies, and trade promotion. She also updated USCIB members on the state of current OECD accession discussions now that talks with Thailand have launched.  

Most importantly, there was a discussion on the value of private sector inputs at the OECD and future opportunities at upcoming supply chain and sustainability forums.  

USCIB Participates in the SPP OEWG 3

USCIB Policy Manager for Regulation and Trade Chris Olsen, and multiple USCIB members participated at the third Ad Hoc Open-Ended Working Group to develop a Science-Policy Panel on sound management of chemicals and waste and to prevent pollution (SPP OEWG 3).  

At what was supposed to be the OEWG’s final session, running from June 17-21 in Geneva, countries were unable to agree on the foundational structure of the proposed Panel and its various processes. A resumed session of the meeting is now scheduled to take place in the days before the formal Intergovernmental Meeting that would establish the Panel in February of next year.

The Science Policy Panel (SPP) is envisioned to join the existing science panels, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), which cover climate change and biodiversity, respectively. The SPP would fill a gap in access and development of scientific resources relating to waste and pollution.  

Unfortunately, there were disagreements on fundamental issues, including on the governing body, an interdisciplinary expert committee, the role of observers and stakeholders, and whether the Secretariat would be executed by UN Environment Programme (UNEP) alone or jointly hosted by both UNEP and the World Health Organization (WHO). 

“There remains commitment among countries to produce the bare bones of legal text that is needed to establish the Panel and transmit it to the Intergovernmental Meeting. This would allow parties to hammer out the subsequent details after its establishment. But much could still delay, or ultimately derail, this important process,” according to Olsen.