USCIB Leads Association Letter Urging Biden Administration to Maintain Strong Investor Safeguards in US Trade and Investment Agreements

In a letter sent today to Ambassador Katherine Tai, Secretary Antony Blinken, and Secretary Gina Raimondo, representatives of US businesses from among virtually every sector of the US economy called upon the Biden Administration to maintain investor safeguards in US trade and investment agreements, including national treatment and access to neutral, independent dispute settlement. These safeguards are fundamental to incentivizing and protecting US foreign direct investment (FDI) abroad that will power the green transition and help the United States grow its economy, compete with China, and promote resilient supply chains. Additionally, it would be counterproductive to remove these critical safeguards at a time when US FDI has never been more important to achieving US economic and foreign policy objectives.

Read the letter here.

USCIB Participates in the ICANN 80 Policy Forum

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) 80 Policy Forum took place in Kigali, Rwanda 10-13 June 2024. This meeting examined critical issues facing the Internet ecosystem, with particular emphasis on the preparations for the next round of the New Generic Top-Level Domain Program (gTLD). 

ICANN 80 kicked off with a welcome message from Tripti Sinha, The ICANN Board Chair and Sally Costerson, the Interim President and CEO. The ICANN Board of Directors later announced Kurt Erik “Kurtis” Lindqvist as the next ICANN President and CEO. Lindqvist brings more than 30 years of experience as an industry leader and will officially assume the role on December 5, 2024. 

The Digital Industry now looks forward to ICANN81, which will take place from November 9-14, 2024, in Istanbul. Topics of focus will include the ongoing review of the Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO) Transfer Policy, which aims to enhance domain name portability. Discussions will also examine root server security, and the delivery of the final report from the GNSO Expedited Policy Development Process. 

Annual International Labor Parliament Discusses Biohazards, Care Economy, and Fundamental Rights

USCIB President and CEO Whitney Baird (left) and Head of US Employer Delegation to the ILC Ewa Staworzynska (right), with newly elected IOE President and Executive Director of Kenyan Employers and the Societe Generale (SG) of Business Africa Jackie Mugo (center).  

The annual International Labour Conference (ILC), also called the international labor parliament, has ended its two–week deliberations in Geneva. This year’s agenda included a new international labor standard on biohazards in the working environment, a discussion on decent work in the care economy, and a discussion on fundamental principles and rights at work. USCIB, as the US employer representative to the International Labour Organization (ILO), led the US business community’s participation, with a record large delegation. 

The ILC is the only moment during the year where more than 5000 social partners – workers, employers, and governments – meet at the ILO to negotiate labor standards and discuss international labor policy. In addition, as part of the ILO supervisory mechanism, delegates discuss country cases pertaining to the application of ratified ILO standards. The two policy discussions – on care economy and fundamental principles and rights at work – ended with sets of consensus-based conclusions, despite, at times, challenging negotiations. The negotiation on the new labor standard on biological hazards concluded its first out of two sittings, and the standard is shaping up to be a Convention (binding) and a Recommendation (non-binding). 

USCIB President and CEO, Whitney Baird, participated in the ILC and the IOE General Council, the annual meeting of IOE member federations. Federations discussed the challenges faced globally amidst geopolitical tensions and what is needed to ensure a strong business voice in global policymaking. 

The ILO Governing Body also went through elections, and Tom Mackall, USCIB Senior Counsel, was re-elected as a member of the Governing Body. 

As part of the ILC, the ILO inaugurated its Global Coalition for Social Justice, the Director-General’s flagship initiative, with participants from around the world, including President Lula of Brazil. The US is one of the few countries that has tripartite representation in the Global Coalition.  

The ILO also took the opportunity to convene a consultation with the co-facilitators of the forthcoming World Summit for Social Development. The employer community underscored the need for strong involvement of social partners both in the process leading up to the Summit and during the negotiations of the forthcoming Political Declaration.  

“The ILC is a major highlight of the year for us. Thanks to the unique tripartite nature of the ILO, the ILC is the only multilateral negotiation that gives a direct voice and vote to employers. US companies are actively participating, ensuring policy outcomes that consider the realities faced by global businesses,” said Ewa Staworzynska, Head of US Employer Delegation to the ILC. 

New Standard on Biohazards Negotiated at the ILC

Left to Right: Fabio Moraes, Head of North America Occupational Health & Industrial Hygiene, Bayer; Maria Isabel Maya Rubio, Spain Employers; Jose Arroyo, USCIB Policy Manager; and Stefanie Evans-Cypher, Senior Associate General Counsel, Walmart.

This year, the International Labour Conference (ILC), the international labor parliament that convenes business, unions, and governments from ILO Member States, completed the first negotiation on a new international labor standard on protections against biological hazards in the working environment, which will likely be a legally binding Convention, supplemented by a Recommendation. USCIB, as the sole US employer representative, played a key role in shaping the discussions in Geneva.   

The US Employers’ delegation was instrumental in the first year of a two-year negotiation for the new standard-setting. US companies such as Amazon, Bayer, Littler and Walmart, led by USCIB Policy Manager Jose Arroyo, provided substantive analysis and encouraged a strategic approach throughout the negotiations. We prevented the inclusion of language that would have burdened US businesses’ operations worldwide.  

“We have a lot of work to do for next year, but I feel confident that we – employers – established some clear lines of what could be included in the potential convention and what could not,” said Arroyo.  

However, while the spirit of constructive work and consensus-building was present during the sessions, the negotiations with workers’ representatives and governments were challenging. There are important and concerning topics for employers to consider for next year, especially related to the definitions and scope of biological hazards, as well as the necessary distinction between public health national policies and occupational safety and health standards. 

The text remains complex for companies and employers and the outcome will likely be an overly prescriptive legally binding convention, potentially complicating its ratification by Member States. In the face of these challenges, USCIB will continue to advocate for an implementable convention to ensure a clearer distinction between the responsibilities of public health authorities compared to those of employers. 

 

USCIB Co-Signs Multi-Association Letter on Canada Digital Services Tax

USCIB co-signed a letter to US Trade Representative Katherine Tai urging prompt and decisive action under USMCA to confront Canada’s imminent enactment of a digital services tax (DST). The tax would have serious economic implications for US services companies and their consumers and create a chilling effect on the investment climate in Canada. 

Read the full letter here. 

USCIB Featured in Financial Times in a Multi-Association Letter on Global Trade

On June 10, the Financial Times published a letter to the editor from USCIB and several industry associations rebutting US Trade Representative Katherine Tai’s opinion piece, Trade must transform its role in the social contract: From data to workers’ rights, we need to democratize economic opportunity.  

Tai’s opinion piece painted a grim and revisionist history of a global trading system that has left workers behind, and communities isolated from democratic accountability over the past several decades. The rebuttal challenges that vision head on and argues for the return to “a visionary, confident, and proactive trade agenda” that can serve as a “vital tool in tackling shared global challenges; achieving strength through diverse sources of inputs and information; and promoting democratic values.” 

USCIB’s Senior Vice President of Trade, Investment, and Digital Policy Alice Slayton Clark co-signed the letter. “Now is the time for strong US and allied economic leadership — not for retrenchment,” Clark said. 

Read the full letter here.

USCIB Hosts Meeting With Paraguay’s Rodrigo Maluff

On June 3, USCIB was honored to welcome Vice Minister of the Investment and Export Network (REDIEX) of Paraguay’s Ministry of Industry and Commerce (MIC) Rodrigo Maluff to our New York office.  

USCIB’s Senior Vice President for Policy and Global Strategy Norine Kennedy greeted Vice Minister Maluff in person, while USCIB’s Senior Vice President for Trade, Investment and Digital Policy Alice Slayton Clark and Senior Director for Customs and Trade Facilitation Megan Giblin attended online. There was a robust engagement regarding USCIB’s work on ATA Carnet including its digitalization, customs processes and procedures, the trade and investment climate, investor safeguards, data flow issues, and sustainability.  

REDIEX is Paraguay’s Export and Investment Agency. It seeks to increase the presence of Paraguayan products and services in international markets and improve the competitiveness of national exporting companies while also attracting foreign direct investment into Paraguay, promoting the country’s competitive advantages, facilitating the identification of business opportunities, and providing technical advice to potential investors. 

According to Vice Minister Maluff, Paraguay is eager to learn more about the trade and investment priorities of USCIB members vis-a-vis Paraguay and hopes for future engagement with USCIB in this regard.

 

USCIB Represents Global Business at UNFCCC Just Transition Dialogue in Bonn

Agnes Vinblad speaking on behalf of the Global Business & Industry constituency during the UNFCCC Dialogue under the Just Transition Work Programme

On June 2-3 in Bonn, Germany, USCIB’s Director of Environment & Sustainable Development Agnes Vinblad served as one of two formal representatives on behalf of the Global Business & Industry (BINGO) Constituency to the first Dialogue convened under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) United Arab Emirates Just Transition Work Programme (UAE JTWP). The UAE JTWP was established via mandate coming out of COP28 in Dubai. 

The first Dialogue under the UAE JTWP was held under the theme “Just transition pathways to achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement through Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), National Adaptation Plans (NAPs) and Long-term Low Emission Development Strategies (LT-LEDS).” 

The two days were marked by active discussions amongst Parties and Non-Party Stakeholder representatives, exploring best practices and lessons learned in implementing just transition initiatives and frameworks, and identifying support needs for better integration of just transition considerations in Parties next round of NDCs, NAPs and LT-LEDs. 

During the sessions, Vinblad brought forth key points for business when considering just transition: 

“The global business community especially encourages more robust mapping of already existing just transition implementation efforts across the private sector to get a clearer picture of best practices as well as to identify gaps to understand specific support needs; this is especially critical in understanding the needs of micro-small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) in regions most impacted by climate change. Business encourages regional and national partnerships that bring together all stakeholders to work collaboratively towards truly data-driven just transition integration in next round NDCs, NAPs, and LT-LEDS,” said Vinblad. 

“But the most critical point is to ensure that just transition policy measures are truly responsive, rooted in the real economy, considering sector-specific needs, and adapt to local, national and regional circumstances. There is no one-size-fits-all when talking about just transition,” Vinblad continued. 

The first Dialogue under the JTWP was convened during the SB60 pre-sessional in the days prior to the formal start of the UNFCCC Bonn Climate Change Conference (SB60). SB60 is scheduled for June 3 – 13, where Vinblad will engage in continued negotiations on just transition, along with other key priority items for USCIB members, such as matters pertaining to climate finance, carbon markets, adaptation, and mitigation. 

USCIB Co-Hosts Discussion of OECD Recommendations on Governance of Artificial Intelligence

USCIB’s Cheryl Miller moderating virtual panel on AI governance.

On Wednesday, June 5, USCIB and WITA hosted a virtual panel discussion on AI governance moderated by USCIB’s Vice President for Digital Policy Cheryl Miller. 

Featured speakers included Dr. Orit Frenkel, CEO for the American Leadership Initiative; Kate Goodloe, Managing Director at BSA | The Software Alliance; Karine Perset, Head of the AI Unit and OECD.AI, OECD Digital Economy Policy Division; David C. Turnbull, US Delegate to the OECD Digital Policy Committee & GPAI, Bureau of Cyberspace and Digital Policy, Office of Multilateral Affairs, US Department of State; and Howie Wachtel, Senior Director and Head of UN and International Organizations Policy at Microsoft. 

Panelists discussed the recent revisions to the OECD AI Principles, the importance of maintaining the multistakeholder model in AI governance, and the intersection of the OECD’s and UN’s emerging work on AI.  

Updates to the AI principles aimed to clarify and simplify relevant AI definitions and principles so that member countries can better apply them; and to reflect AI developments in the past five years, including the emergence of generative AI and large language models. Importantly, the principles address new safety concerns, mis and dis information, and information integrity.  

“The recent revisions to the OECD AI Principles help spread the benefits of AI effectively,” Miller said. 

Wachtel emphasized that efforts across international policy making bodies should try to avoid duplicative efforts to regulate AI and instead utilize existing pathways.  

“It’s important to recognize the distinction between harmonization and interoperability, interoperability is the ability of different systems to communicate effectively while harmonization refers to the legal frameworks that are in place in each of these jurisdictions,” said Wachtel. 

WSIS+20 Forum High Level Event and AI for Good Global Summit 2024

USCIB’s Cheryl Miller speaks at a session on Internet Governance and the GDC with the Internet Governance Forum

From May 27 to 31, the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS)+20 Forum High-Level Event 2024 convened in Geneva, Switzerland, in conjunction with the AI for Good Global Summit 2024 and the United Nations’ (UN) first AI Governance Day.

More than 8,000 participants from 160 countries reflected upon the impact of the WSIS in Geneva in 2003 and then Tunis in 2005, while discussing how to make further progress on the WSIS action lines and sustainable development goals (SDGs).

The High-Level Event was co-hosted by the Swiss Confederation (CH) and the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), and co-organized by ITU; the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO); the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Trade and Development (UNCTAD). The CH chaired the event, which featured 14 High-Level talks and over 200 sessions.

Stakeholders from across the globe reaffirmed that the WSIS has been a success, and that the future of AI and other digital advancements will require multistakeholder cooperation in policymaking to enhance inclusivity and meaningful participation. They noted that AI will complicate the existing digital divide, and that a lack of connectivity in many areas remains a global challenge.

In addition to infrastructure, increased capacity building is needed to foster the development of digital skills, and in particular, institutional capacity development. Participants spoke about how “Digital for the benefit of all” remains the main goal of the WSIS and pledged their support for the renewal of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF).

Find more information on WSIS here.