USCIB Issues 2024 Priorities and Recommendations for APEC

USCIB has issued this year’s priorities and recommendations that USCIB and its members would like to see advanced in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC). This annual priorities document reflects critical issue areas across USCIB’s primary workstreams related to APEC. USCIB has always been a longstanding and steadfast contributor to APEC workstreams and stands ready to provide business inputs to advance APEC goals and objectives for 2024 and beyond.   

APEC also reflects USCIB’s longstanding and guiding objectives of promoting open markets, competitiveness and innovation, sustainable development and corporate responsibility, supported by international engagement and regulatory coherence.  

“USCIB values the committed partnerships that APEC has established with the private sector to address the many economic opportunities available to foster greater integration between APEC’s member economies,” said USCIB Senior Vice President for Trade, Investment and Digital Policy Alice Slayton Clark. 

“We laud the excellent work accomplished during the 2023 U.S. APEC host year and look forward to an equally productive 2024, exploring new topics for outcomes and deliverables as Peru takes the helm,” added Clark.  

USCIB Meets with OECD to Share US Industry Accession Priorities 

USCIB organized a member briefing on February 14 with OECD officials to discuss the accession process and to share USCIB Members’ market access concerns regarding the five accession candidates: Brazil, Bulgaria, Croatia, Peru and Romania. USCIB also shared with the OECD officials an updated business priorities document, detailing industry concerns for each of the accession candidates. 

Members learned that the candidacies of Croatia, Bulgaria, Peru and Romania are most advance as they consider the accession process a national priority. According to USCIB Senior Vice President for Trade, Investment and Digital Policy Alice Slayton Clark, Brazil is taking a more cautious position, setting up a working group on OECD matters to determine how to approach accession. Interestingly, the new administration of Javier Milei in Argentina seems committed to moving forward with adoption of a roadmap for accession after putting the invitation on pause for the past two years. Finally, Thailand has requested to accede, and the OECD announced this week it is opening accession talks with Indonesia, a process that will take many years.     

It was made clear during this meeting that OECD accession provides powerful leverage for adoption of reforms in candidate countries, an opportunity for industry to resolve market access concerns. It is imperative to act early in this regard and provide detailed input that can be incorporated into market openness reports used to measure candidate country readiness.  

One main area of concern raised during the discussion was candidate country positioning on the moratorium on customs duties on electronic transmissions, a question that will be considered at next week’s World Trade Organization (WTO) 13th Ministerial Conference (MC13) in Abu Dhabi. USCIB urged that all OECD members and accession candidates fully support the moratorium to be in alignment with OECD research, principles and best practices. 

Click here to download USCIB’s OECD Accession Priorities document. 

Cross-Atlantic Social Partners Convene to Discuss Jobs for a Green Transition 

Ewa Staworzynska (USCIB)

The EU-U.S. Trade and Technology Council (TCC) held a workshop of the Transatlantic Initiative for Sustainable Trade (TIST), titled “Promotion of Good Quality Jobs for a Successful, Just and Inclusive Green Economy,” in Washington DC on January 30. The workshop focused on the promotion of good quality jobs for a successful, just and inclusive green transition. Organizations such as the the International Labor Organization (ILO), Business Europe, AFL-CIO, the European Trade Union Confederation and government agencies from both sides of the Atlantic provided perspectives during the meeting. 

USCIB Director for Corporate Responsibility and Labor Affairs Ewa Staworzynska gave remarks at the workshop, alongside USCIB members Lisa Schroeter (Dow) and Josh Connelly (LinkedIn). Connelly provided relevant data on workforce skilling and the gender gap, highlighting that women are disproportionally impacted by the green transition, due to the lack of parity in the market, especially in the green sector. 

Staworzynska spoke on the issue of supply chain transparency in the context of the green transition, underscoring that supply chain traceability is extremely complex, especially in higher tiers. “American companies have championed supply chain improvements globally, and we count on the U.S. government and the European Union to help sourcing countries tackle root causes of labor risks, such as poverty and informality,” she said. Staworzynska further highlighted that the just transition policies must take into account the realities faced by companies globally in order to be effective. 

“USCIB has had a longstanding engagement at the TCC,” said Staworzynska. “We look forward to highlighting the important work of our members, such as LinkedIn and Dow, and working with the EU and the U.S. to ensure a just and inclusive green transition.” 

Vinblad Speaks on Business and Biodiversity at Columbia University  

L-R: Wendy Hapgood (Wild Tomorrow), Amy Karpati (Columbia University), Jenna Lawrence (Columbia University), Agnes Vinblad (USCIB), Matthias Pitkowitz (EQX Biome)

USCIB Director for Environment and Sustainable Development Agnes Vinblad was invited to participate in an expert panel organized by the Columbia University Climate School Earth Institute in New York City. The event was held under the title, “Solving the Biodiversity Crisis: Strategic & Interdisciplinary Approaches.” Discussions highlighted the importance of biodiversity considerations in sustainable business decisions with a focus on solution pathways and recent policy developments. 

Vinblad’s interventions focused on the international policy dimension and the role of incentivizing industrial policy in spurring and enabling private sector leadership on biodiversity protection. 

The panel was moderated by Wendy Hapgood, Co-founder and COO of Wild Tomorrow, a wildlife conservation non-profit organization dedicated to the protection, restoration and rewilding of threatened habitats to protect biodiversity. In addition to Vinblad, the panel included Amy Karpati, conservation biologist and adjunct professor at Columbia University, Jenna Lawrence, biodiversity specialist and researcher, and lecturer at the Climate School at Columbia University and Matthias Pitkowitz, founder and CEO of EQX Biome – a financial marketplace for nature-based investments.  

Agnes Vinblad

“This excellent discussion served as a great opportunity to speak about USCIB’s engagement in the UN CBD process, and our active participation in the negotiations leading up to the adoption of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF),” said Vinblad.  

“Inevitably, a lot of the conversation centered on Target 15 of the GBF – this is the target that calls for legal, administrative or policy measures to encourage businesses to regularly monitor, assess and disclose their risks, dependencies and impacts on biodiversity. But we also touched upon many other of the targets, for example the conservation target – Target 3 – which seeks to conserve 30% of land, waters and seas by 2030,” she continued.  

USCIB holds official observer status to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (UN CBD). This is the UN treaty under which matters pertaining to biodiversity are negotiated. Through this status, USCIB has been active participants in the UN CBD process for many years and Vinblad led a USCIB delegation to the historic UN CBD COP15 in December 2022 where the GBF was adopted.  

“A key point to note is that while the U.S. is not a Party to the UN CBD, we are seeing a continued increased interest from the U.S. business community to engage on biodiversity topics. One of the primary concerns I am hearing from business is the rapid rollout of numerous different biodiversity reporting standards and frameworks – a key priority for us now is to ensure harmonization to ease the administrative burden for business to free up resources for real implementation,” Vinblad added. 

UN CBD COP16 is scheduled to convene from October 21 to November 1 in Colombia this fall and deliberations will focus on the implementation phase of the GBF.  

USCIB Meets With OECD to Offer Business Perspectives for OECD’s US Economic Survey

Representatives from the U.S. desk of the OECD’s Economics Department met with USCIB members and staff on January 8 to solicit business input into the next OECD United States Economic Survey. The OECD typically conducts these economic reviews every two years to assess the macroeconomic and structural policy challenges facing economies and offer recommendations.

A robust group of USCIB members participated in the meeting including Rick Johnston (Citi), Jerry Cook (Hanesbrands), Carolina Costa (RELX), Elizabeth Tate (Albright Stonebridge Group) and Cristian Rodriguez-Chiffelle (Boston Consulting Group). They discussed early findings from the OECD analysts that the United States will be experiencing a soft landing with weak economic growth expected in 2024, with GDP project at 1.5 percent, unemployment over 4 percent and abatement of inflationary pressures and wage growth. This led to a conversation about business outlooks on U.S. industrial policies (e.g. CHIPS Act), China trade policy and the impact of tariffs, U.S. retreat from economic globalization, economic security and reduced business voice in economic policy debates.

“As always, USCIB greatly appreciates the opportunity to meet with representatives from the OECD,” said Senior VP for Policy and Global Strategy Norine Kennedy. “As the sole U.S. representative to Business at OECD (BIAC), USCIB is in a unique position to offer invaluable U.S. business perspectives. We are committed to this important analysis and work of the OECD in providing well-informed recommendations to the U.S. government.”

OECD Surveys aim to promote a better understanding of a given country’s economic situation, identify the key challenges facing that country’s authorities and provide recommendations to improve the country’s overall economic performance.

 

USCIB Represents U.S. Business at UN Meetings on Climate (COP28)

USCIB President and CEO Whitney Baird (left) moderates a panel during a US Chamber side event

The 28th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP28) was gaveled to a close in the late afternoon on December 13 in Dubai, UAE.  

As at all prior Climate COPs in history, USCIB participated actively throughout the two weeks of the conference, constructively advocating for the importance of business inclusion in the UNFCCC process, while closely following the negotiations on a set of key agenda items, including the Global Stocktake, the Just Transition Work Programme and others. The USCIB delegation included USCIB President and CEO Whitney Baird, USCIB Senior Vice President Norine Kennedy and Policy Manager for Environment and Sustainable Development Agnes Vinblad. 

USCIB came to COP28 to support a strong, forward looking political outcome of the first-ever Global Stocktake, setting the stage for robust next-round NDCs that will enable the private sector to serve as core implementation partners and leaders.  

Set against the backdrop of global geopolitical uncertainty, the COP28 Presidency had an immense challenge ahead of them in facilitating a successful process with a strong outcome. Despite these concerns, this year’s Climate COP managed to bring multiple key outcomes and commitments. 

At the conclusion of COP28, 198 Parties agreed on the Dubai package called the “UAE Consensus” – the 23 page Global Stocktake outcome document, encompassing a historical decision on the Loss and Damage fund, the Mitigation Work Programme, Just Transition Work Programme, and unprecedented language pertaining to fossil fuel energy and recognizing the need to, “transition away from fossil fuels in energy systems, in a just, orderly and equitable manner.” 

According to Vinblad, this is the first time in nearly three decades of global climate change conferences, that the COP outcome text includes language on transitioning away from fossil fuels. It is important to recognize that the decision text further references the role of transition fuels, technological solutions such as carbon capture and storage, and the need to ensure energy security.  

“While there are clear gaps in the final decision text, COP28 is already being referred to as one of the most critical UN climate change conferences to date, especially with the conclusion of the very first Global Stocktake,” said Vinblad. “The UAE Consensus makes clear the importance to include all actors in society – including business – to be able to move at the scale and pace needed to speed up mitigation and adaptation efforts, while strengthening resilience and putting a stronger focus on climate finance.” 

COP29 will be hosted in Baku, Azerbaijan and has been dubbed the “finance COP” as governments will have to agree on a new climate finance goal, with the New Collective Quantified Goal (NCQG) being up for decision.  

USCIB and IOE Host “Getting Business on Board for the 2024 UN Summit of the Future” 

USCIB and the International Organization of Employers (IOE) co-hosted a webinar, “Getting Business on Board for the 2024 UN Summit of the Future,” on December 4. The webinar spotlighted expectations for the 2024 UN Summit for the Future (SOTF) and discussed ways in which the private sector could participate and impact the preparations and outcomes. 

The event was headlined by Ambassador Paula Narváez, president of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (UN ECOSOC) and permanent representative of Chile to the UN. Participants also heard from USCIB Senior Vice President for Policy and Global Strategy Norine Kennedy, who presented USCIB’s two Moving the Needle reports that were published during the UN General Assembly in September. 

A panel on “What to expect and how to come prepared for the Summit of the Future” discussed private sector priorities in the coming year of deliberations. The panel also highlighted the growing role that small and midsize enterprises (SMEs) play – and will continue to play – in the economy and global trade. 

“Unless we address the issues of good governance, accountability and oversight, we’re going to find it difficult to mobilize private and public funding to finance SMEs, which are the backbone of so many economies,” stated Shea Gopaul, permanent representative to the UN in New York for the IOE. 

Other speakers included: 

  • Michael Pan, program management officer, ‘Our Common Agenda’, Executive Office of the Secretary General   
  • Angus Rennie, partnerships manager, United Nations Global Compact   
  • Ilze Melngailis, senior director, Business Council for the UN and Private Sector Engagement at the UN Foundation  
  • Patricia Veringa-Gieskes, president, Federation of Employers of Congo (FEC) 

This webinar was the first in a series that will continue to engage with UN representatives and key government delegations to inform the formation of the SOTF and its outcomes. 

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 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.

About USCIB
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.”