Baird Discusses USCIB Priorities With Leaders of WTO and UNCTAD 

L-R: Whitney Baird (USCIB), Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (WTO), Angela Ellard (WTO) in Geneva

USCIB President and CEO Whitney Baird was in Geneva the week of November 27, meeting with the heads of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) to press membership priorities.  


The focus of the meeting with WTO Director General Ngozi Okonjo-Iwealaand Deputy Director General Angela Ellard was industry positions for the upcoming WTO Ministerial Conference (MC13), with Baird underscoring concerns regarding the U.S. retreat from important digital safeguards in the JSI on E-Commerce negotiations, the imperative of a permanent renewal of the moratorium on customs duties on electronic transmissions and staunch opposition to a waiver extension under the WTO Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement. USCIB also relayed its history as a leading industry voice in support of the WTO, spearheading business coalition letters urging better U.S. leadership in negotiations.   


“USCIB will attend MC13 in February 2024 showcasing our deep commitment to the WTO and a global rules-based trading system,” said Baird. “With some 70 percent of world trade covered under WTO rules, USCIB is a steadfast and staunch advocate for the WTO and its critical role in keeping the global trading system open for business particularly during times of pandemic or geostrategic crisis.” 


Baird also expressed her gratitude to the DG for establishing the WTO Director General business advisory group to ensure industry voices are heard. “USCIB truly understands the importance and the power of institutionalized stakeholder engagement as the unique U.S. affiliate to the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), Business at OECD (BIAC) and the International Organization of Employers (IOE),” added Baird. 


Separately, Baird met with UNCTAD Secretary General Rebeca Grynspan to discuss mutual areas of interest regarding foreign direct investment (FDI) and issues related to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). USCIB’s engagement with UNCTAD spans years of active participation at the World Investment Forum Meetings, the leading international meeting on investment matters. 


USCIB has been a longstanding, leading voice for the U.S. private sector on international investment policy issues in the multilateral system, promoting FDI and defending investor safeguards in investment agreements as a paramount priority.   


“USCIB advocates for inclusive practical multilateralism and welcomes opportunities to engage with UNCTAD in dialogue and through public-private partnerships to learn about the barriers to investments in developing countries,” said Baird.  


Baird added, “It is now more important than ever that international organizations like UNCTAD work with business to call for the necessary welcoming environment for FDI in quality projects that help put the SDGs back on track, power sustainable economic growth and shared prosperity. USCIB looks forward to a productive working relationship with the Secretary General and her colleagues at UNCTAD.” 

USCIB Highlights Critical Role of Business in Advancing Human Rights at UN Forum

Participants: IOE corporate partners, USCIB delegation, and UN Deputy High Commissioner
Photo Credit: IOE

The annual UN Forum on Business and Human Rights took place the week of November 27 in Geneva. As the world’s largest conference on business and human rights (BHR), it convened governments, business, civil society, experts and practitioners to discuss the implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, share best practices and learn about BHR initiatives from all regions.

According to USCIB Director for Corporate Responsibility and Labor Affairs Ewa Staworzynska, this year’s discussions were marked by the commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the UN Declaration on Human Rights, as well as the 12th year since the adoption of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs). There was broad consensus that more progress was needed on human rights and many stakeholders called for a stronger role to be played by business. Emphasis was placed on leveraging the UNGPs in emerging topics such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and environmental protection.

IOE Business Caucus L-R: Ewa Staworzynska (USCIB & IOE), Renate Hornung-Draus (Confederation of German Employers (BDA) & IOE), Roberto Suarez Santos (IOE), Whitney Baird (USCIB), Jason Pegat-Toquet (IOE). Photo credit: IOE

The American business community actively engaged across the various discussions at the UN Forum and USCIB member companies, including Hewlett-Packard and Google, were featured in plenary sessions to share their valuable contributions to the human rights agenda. The commitment to progress on human rights was also underscored in the dialogue with UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk, during a Business Caucus organized by the International Organisation of Employers (IOE), as well as in a business meeting with the UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Nada Youssef A. Al Nashif.

USCIB and the U.S. Mission in Geneva co-organized a dialogue between USCIB member companies and the U.S. Government delegation to the UN Forum. The dialogue allowed for an open discussion among businesses and representatives from the U.S. Departments of State and Labor and USAID, on key topics such as the UN Legally Binding Instrument on Business and Human Rights, AI, due diligence trends and labor rights.

The USCIB delegation was led by President and CEO Whitney Baird and included Ewa Staworzynska, director for corporate responsibility and labor affairs and Jose Arroyo, policy manager.

“We are thrilled to lead the U.S. business engagement at the UN Forum on Business and Human Rights,” said Baird. “The presence and participation of U.S. companies highlights the private sector’s commitment to advancing human rights globally, and it is imperative that we do so in alignment with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.”

USCIB Letter to US Administration Welcomes Strong US Leadership at COP28, Highlights USCIB Role at Climate COP

New York, N.Y., November 29, 2023—As the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) prepares to open the 28th Conference of the Parties (COP28) in Dubai tomorrow, the United States Council for International Business (USCIB), which will represent the U.S. business community at the Climate COP, sent a letter to U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry.

The letter welcomes the continued strong leadership of the Administration in climate change and its constructive focus on catalyzing investment in all forms of energy to support a just transition, new green jobs and sustainable paths to shared prosperity across society.

USCIB also recognizes the unprecedented opportunity which the Inflation Reduction Act offers to mobilize private capital to achieve our shared climate goals and strengthen long-term growth at home and abroad.

For this year’s Climate COP, USCIB will bring a multisectoral delegation of globally leading U.S. companies ready to share commitments and solutions to tackle climate change, while prioritizing investment, employment, and shared economic growth in the U.S. and abroad. It has perhaps never been clearer – every sector of American business plays a critical part in strengthening implementation.

USCIB also looks forward to supporting key progress on advanced climate technologies, especially through engagement with the CTCN and the current U.S. leadership of the CTCN Advisory Board.

COP28 has the potential to become the most inclusive COP in history, with governments, Observers, NGOs, business, and wider civil society coming together for the first Global Stocktake to reaffirm commitment to the Paris Agreement and keeping the promise of 1.5 alive.

The letter can be downloaded here.

The United States Council for International Business (USCIB) advances the global interests of American business. We do so through advocacy for an open system of world trade, finance, and investment, where business can flourish and contribute to economic growth, human welfare, and environmental protection. We are the sole U.S. affiliate of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), Business at OECD (BIAC) and the International Organization of Employers (IOE). USCIB is also the only U.S. business organization with standing at the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), and is recognized at the UN Environment Program (UNEP), UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (UN CBD).

USCIB Delegation at UN Talks on Plastic Pollution Stresses Critical Role of Business to Identify Innovation and Implementation Opportunities

Chris Olsen and Agnes Vinblad at INC-3 in Nairobi

USCIB and its members were engaged throughout the third session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee to develop an international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution, including in the marine environment (INC-3). INC-2 was held November 13 to 19 at the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya. 

A USCIB delegation, headed by USCIB Policy Managers Chris Olsen and Agnes Vinblad, followed the negotiations and a range of events prior to and throughout the week. Additional USCIB members made the trip to Nairobi for the negotiations, joining through other observer organizations, and continued to convey how the business community can be solutions providers in the INC process. 

According to Olsen, the negotiations were organized into three contact groups, broadly covering: substantive elements; financing, capacity building and means of implementation; and elements not discussed at INC-2. The results of these groups will be compiled into a single “revised draft text from INC-3” that includes a compilation of all the options proposed in addition to those of the Zero Draft text, as well as a proposal and other submissions regarding those elements that had not been discussed prior to INC-3. The third contact group was also unable to reach consensus regarding intersessional work. This “revised draft text” will be the basis for the negotiations at INC-4, in Ottawa, Canada, next April. 

“Plastic Pollution is such a complex and multidimensional global issue, in need of even more multidimensional solutions,” said Vinblad while reflecting on the issues discussed throughout the week. “At INC-3, we have continued to see firsthand the wide range of views across countries and the wide range of perspectives across industries. It is critical that the INC process continues to be a negotiation inclusive of all observers and maintain a collaborative spirit, recognizing the key role of the global business community in identifying opportunities for innovation and implementation.” 

UNEP Headquarters in Nairobi.
Photo credit: Chris Olsen (USCIB)

INC-3 also saw a changing in its chair, with Gustavo Meza-Cuadra from Peru stepping back into a vice-chair role, and Ambassador Luis Vayas Valdivieso of Ecuador being elected to serve as the Committee’s Chair for INC-4, INC-5, and the final Diplomatic Conference in 2025. This had been agreed upon at the outset of the INC process. The host city of INC-5 was also announced as Busan, Republic of Korea, to take place late November of 2024. 

Regarding the outcomes of INC-3, Olsen went on to stress, “While the lack of consensus regarding recommendations for intersessional work cast a small shadow over the end of the week that many have focused on, the fact of the matter remains that solid progress was made on many important topics that can serve as the foundation for negotiations at INCs-4 and 5 next year. Business needs to be ready to continue to educate and inform policymakers on how we can be partners in addressing these global challenges in the year to come.” 

Business at OECD Releases Paper on Trade Priorities, Responding to 2023 OECD Trade Strategy 

This week, Business at OECD (BIAC) released its flagship paper “Trading Better, Living Better” outlining trade priorities aimed at promoting robust and resilient trade, innovation, open markets, a level the playing field and inclusivity. The paper is developed to inform the future work program of the OECD Trade and Agriculture Directorate. 


The paper was launched on November 27 at a virtual event including OECD officials, government policymakers and other trade stakeholders. USCIB Vice President for International Investment and Trade Policy and BIAC Trade Committee Vice Chair Alice Slayton Clark presented key priorities from the digital section of the paper. These included permanent renewal of the World Trade Organization (WTO) moratorium on customs duties on electronic transmissions, high standard outcomes from the JSI on e-commerce negotiations and OECD advancement of the benefits of cross-border data flows and negative effects of data localization measures. 


Importantly, the document also urges the OECD to support policy efforts towards strengthening intellectual property (IP) protections, which serve as a fuel for innovation. It urges research on the benefits of IP safeguards and negative trade effects of weak IP rights enforcement.


“The paper underscores several key recommendations for strengthening trade and business,” said Clark. “It calls on the international community to foster rules-based and resilient trade, strengthen the foundations of open markets, advance the digital economy, level the playing field for government support and secure public support for open markets.


Read the full paper here.

Rick Minor Quoted in Bloomberg Law on OECD Tax Deal, Advocates for Extended Time for Business to Provide Feedback

USCIB Vice President and International Tax Counsel Rick Minor was quoted in a Bloomberg Law article yesterday regarding the Department of Treasury’s handling of a complex Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) tax treaty. Treasury is awaiting business input by December 11, with the deadline for the treaty set on December 31. This treaty would reallocate residual profits of big corporations to market jurisdictions under Pillar One of the two-section tax deal.

Minor was quoted as saying, “USCIB views it as essential for Inclusive Framework members, in-scope businesses, and other stakeholders to be given more time beyond the end of this calendar year to complete this important work.” This quote stems from a letter that was sent to Treasury on November 15.

Business has expressed concern that Treasury’s solicitation of feedback from stakeholders may be the administration’s attempt to buy more time for negotiations before any significant decision-making occurs by nations. This move also shifts pressure regarding the treaty’s success or failure away from negotiators and onto business. However, the comment period also sends the message that the U.S. is taking this treaty seriously, as doubts continue to exist about whether the negotiations will be fruitful.

The full article is available with a subscription to Bloomberg Tax and can be accessed here.

Business at OECD Launches Responsible Business Conduct Committee, Co-Chaired by USCIB Member Laura Chapman-Rubbo (Disney)

Laura Rubbo attends USCIB’s 2019 International Leadership Award Dinner
L-R: Peter Robinson (formerly USCIB), Laura Rubbo (The Walt Disney Company), Guy Ryder (formerly ILO), Terry McGraw (formerly USCIB & S&P Global)

Business at OECD (BIAC) launched the newly formed BIAC Responsible Business Conduct (RBC) Committee on November 8 in Paris. The rationale for establishing a dedicated RBC committee is rooted in the growing OECD RBC workstreams, which are expected to expand in the upcoming years. While the BIAC RBC Committee was previously housed under the same umbrella as the Investment Committee, close coordination between both committees will continue. In line with this, two previous vice-chairs of the Investment and RBC Committees now serve as the new co-chairs of the BIAC RBC committee: Laura Chapman-Rubbo from USCIB member The Walt Disney Company and Paul Noll from the Confederation of German Employers’ Associations (BDA).

USCIB was delighted to nominate Chapman-Rubbo as co-chair. She has extensive expertise in working with OECD matters, closely collaborating with BIAC on the review of upcoming OECD RBC guidance. As a leading voice in RBC topics, Chapman-Rubbo brings an American perspective, along with know-how from a worldwide transnational company to the table. USCIB members are committed to driving positive change while ensuring that American business interests remain represented at the OECD level.

“I am honored to co-chair this committee,” said Chapman-Rubbo. “We are building on decades of important work by BIAC, their member national business associations, and their member companies to advance responsible business conduct and the OECD’s Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises.”

The first BIAC RBC committee meeting was held on November 8 and now the committee is focused on a 2024 work plan and outreach.

USCIB Member Cristian Rodriguez-Chiffelle (BCG) Approved as Vice Chair for Newly-Formed BIAC Investment Committee 

Cristian Rodriguez-Chiffelle

Business at OECD’s (BIAC) Executive Board formally approved the nomination of USCIB member Cristian Rodriguez-Chiffelle (Boston Consulting Group) for Vice-Chair of the BIAC Investment Committee on November 7. 


Rodriguez-Chiffelle serves as senior advisor for Boston Consulting Group’s (BCG) Global Advantage and Public Sector practices. He has consulted with governments, firms and international organizations across multiple regions. He has extensive expertise in fields such as sustainable FDI strategies for renewable energy, investment attraction and promotion and the negotiation and implementation of trade agreements. His extensive experience has primarily focused on Latin American trade, climate policy and investment. 


Rodriguez-Chiffelle’s previous experience participating in the investment-related operations of international organizations and the Chilean government will be of great value when conveying business priorities to governments and OECD representatives as part of his new position. 


The BIAC Investment Committee is a newly independent committee, having previously been part of the Investment and Responsible Business Conduct Committee. It is primarily focused on challenges that companies are facing with respect to the international investment climate and aims to highlight the importance of appropriate investor safeguards, market openness and a level-playing field in global trade and investment. 

Giblin Speaks at ACI Advanced Forum on Import Compliance and Enforcement

USCIB Senior Director for Customs and Trade Facilitation Megan Giblin spoke as a panelist at the 12th Advanced Forum on Import Compliance & Enforcement, hosted by the American Conference Institute (ACI).

Held November 7-8, this in-depth strategic conference covered U.S. and international regulatory changes impacting imports and customs compliance strategy, especially concerning evolving U.S. import controls.

Giblin spoke on the panel titled An Update on CBPs 21st Century Customs Framework (21CCF), providing an outlook on the progress of government and industry 21CCF efforts to simplify, secure and enhance 21st century trade. She discussed the status of 21CC efforts from a broader industry perspective as well as spoke to some of the challenges to the process and the consensus work concerning 21CCF that USCIB has undertaken alongside other industry associations.

“We believe that customs modernization, both in the U.S. and at the national level abroad, is critical and cannot be rushed,” emphasized Giblin in her remarks. “Clear and transparent consultation with the trade community is needed.”

Giblin spoke alongside Garrett Wright (Customs and Border Protection), Kathryn Wilkins (Alliance Operating Systems and Trade Co-Chair of COAC) and Shoshana Grove (International Bridge).

Giblin expressed gratitude to ACI for including USCIB in this discussion.

USCIB Co-Signs Letter Condemning Administration Decision to Withdraw Support for Cross-Border Data Flow Proposals at WTO

USCIB signed a multi-industry association letter decrying the Biden Administration’s decision to end its support for proposals on data flows, data localization and source code, as part of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Joint Initiative on E-commerce (JSI) negotiations. The letter expresses USCIB’s deep dismay regarding a reversal on these core disciplines and U.S. leadership on digital economy priorities.

The letter, co-signed with associations such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National Association of Manufacturers and Recording Industry Association of America, expresses concern that this decision undermines the United States Trade Representative’s (USTR) longstanding commitment to protecting cross-border data flows, which facilitate core values and goals, such as the spread of information, freedom of expression and ability to solve complex global challenges. The letter criticizes USTR for signaling an end to the Administration’s fight against discrimination affecting American companies and their workers, as well as legitimizing digital protectionism across the globe, which strengthens adversaries and hurts American businesses.

The letter encourages USTR to reverse this harmful decision and return the U.S. to its role of global leader in a rules-based trading system that benefits American companies, aligns with the U.S.’s core values and empowers the government to push back against regulatory overreach by authoritarian regimes.

USCIB President and CEO Whitney Baird also spoke with leadership at USTR to express concerns about the implications of this policy reversal at IPEF and the WTO JSI for e-commerce negotiations. Baird refuted the narrative that the digital negotiations only benefit the ICT industry, stressing they also serve the much larger universe of manufacturers, retailers, financial services and logistics and professional services firms that rely on these services and technologies. USCIB made clear that a U.S. vacuum on the global stage leaves space for states like India to step in and advance digital protectionism.

USCIB also is raising concerns at the OECD through our voice in Business at OECD (BIAC) to ensure continued support for strong disciplines that promote barrier-free data flows and legitimate access to digital products and services. USCIB will continue to strategize on next steps regarding getting the U.S. position back on track on digital issues at the WTO, IPEF and beyond.