USCIB Policy Experts Contribute to The Economist Impact’s Global Trade Week

The Economist Impact kickstarted its four-day, second annual Global Trade Week (GTW) in London on June 27. The summit commemorated the supply-chain resilience day on June 28, amid other thematic issues, and had a melee of high-profile speakers including European Commission Director-General for Trade Sabine Weyand, office of the United States Trade Representative Senior Advisor Beth Baltzan and Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Chile Director General of Multilateral Economic Affairs Marcela Otero Fuentes. USCIB policy experts – Senior VP, Innovation, Regulation and Trade Brian Lowry, Director, Investment, Trade, and China Alice Slayton Clark and Senior VP, Policy and Global Strategy Norine Kennedy moderated crucial panels during the week that focused on technology, data and supply-chain resilience.

The summit aimed to connect supply-chain, procurement, manufacturing and finance executives with high-level government representatives including ministers, policymakers and advisors. According to the organizers, the summit allows for the new reality of trade to be understood in its entirety, including geopolitical and climate-change risks.

Clark moderated the June 27 panel, “Changing tariffs and trade barriers – are you prepared?” under the theme geopolitical dynamics impacting supply chains and was chaired by Mayra Souza (TradeExperettes), Darya Galperina (Pernod Ricard), Fernanda Herrmann (Diageo) and Stewart Paterson (Hinrich Foundation).

On June 30, Lowry moderated the panel “How to eradicate forced labor in global supply chains” and participants included Romain Chambre (French Treasury), Gemma Brierley (Danone), Desirée LeClercq (Cornell University) and Evan Smith (Altana).

According to Lowry, key issues discussed was how countries, multilateral institutions and businesses can collaborate better to eradicate forced labor from global supply chains and the role of trade policy in facilitating and addressing these issues.

Kennedy moderated the panel “Delivering a greener, fairer global economy” with panelists: Aik Hoe Lim (World Trade Organization), Marion Jansen (OECD) and Elisabeth Tuerk (United Nations Economic Commission for Europe).

Key issues discussed included links between trade and the environment and how trade could offer solutions to enforcing international climate agreements.

USCIB Participates in ICC Sweden’s Sustainability Committee Meeting in Stockholm

On the margins of the UN meeting, Stockholm+50, on June 3, ICC Sweden opened up their Sustainability Committee Meeting to the public and invited a group of speakers to discuss current environmental policy trends from a global perspective.

Representing USCIB, Agnes Vinblad, policy associate for sustainability, presented on key environmental policy developments of special importance to U.S. Business, including the recently agreed upon UNEA resolution on plastic pollution, and the preparations leading up to the UN Climate Change Conference (COP 27). In delivering her remarks, Vinblad emphasized the importance of USCIB’s guiding principles of open markets, competitiveness and innovation, and sustainable development and corporate responsibility for and by U.S. companies. Vinblad further mentioned the newly formed UN High Level Experts Group (HLEG) on Net-Zero Emissions Commitments on Non-State Entities, and what this development could mean for businesses and their voluntary net-zero carbon emissions pledges.  

For the section on Global Outlook on Sustainability Developments & New Regulations, Vinblad was joined by Mats Pellback Scharp, head of sustainability at Ericsson and Gabriel Lundstrom, head of ESG Investments at SEB. 

Justin Perrettson, chair of the Global ICC Commission on Environment & Energy, and co-chair of the USCIB Environment Committee, opened the meeting with an overarching presentation on global developments pertaining to sustainability and environmental policy and the role and work of ICC in these areas. 

Head of Delegation to UNFCCC at the Swedish Ministry of Environment Mattias Frumerie also participated in the meeting, speaking on goals and expectations ahead of COP27.  

“After two years of pandemic disruption, in-person meetings like this one are critical and offers valuable opportunities for discussion and collaboration,” said Vinblad, reflecting on a successful meeting. “As the U.S. affiliate of ICC, USCIB especially appreciated this meeting with ICC Sweden’s Sustainability Committee and the great value of coming together to compare challenges and opportunities across the EU and the U.S. as they pertain to environmental policy and regulation.”

Vinblad Speaks on Panel Co-Organized by ILO, UNEP and UNICEF at UN Stockholm+50

Center: USCIB’s Agnes Vinblad

USCIB participated in the high-level international meeting, UN Stockholm+50 from June 2-3 in Stockholm, Sweden, joining over 4,000 other participants. The meeting was planned as a key milestone en route to the United Nations Conference of the Parties (COP27) in Egypt later this year. Furthermore, Stockholm+50 served as a means to reinvigorate and renew international environmental multilateralism after the worst impacts of the pandemic. The meeting commemorated the first UN Conference on the Human Environment held fifty years ago, also in Stockholm, in 1972. Topics such as the triple planetary crisis of climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution took center stage with plenty of references to the UNEA 5.2 resolution on plastics pollution, and, to principle 1 of the 1972 Stockholm Declaration – the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment. 

Representing USCIB, and as one of the few U.S. business representatives on hand, was Policy Associate for Sustainability Agnes Vinblad. Vinblad was joined by Co-Chair of the USCIB Environment Committee Justin Perrettson (Novozymes), as well as Melissa Kopolow and Melissa Estok – USCIB members from Albright Stonebridge Group.  

The U.S. Government delegation was led by Special Presidential Envoy for Climate (SPEC) John Kerry and Assistant Secretary Monica Medina. USCIB was in regular contact with the U.S. Delegation in the lead-up to Stockholm+50 and Vinblad met with members of the delegation during the conference emphasizing the need to consider U.S. business views in these critical conversations.   

Nominated by IOE, Vinblad joined a panel co-organized by the International Labor Organization (ILO), the UN Environment Program (UNEP), and UNICEF on the role of private sector engagement in green jobs creation for youth. This panel was part of an official side event at Stockholm+50 titled Green Jobs for Youth and some of the key messages emphasized during the panel included: 

  • the green and circular economy may create 100 million jobs by 2030 – the private sector will stand at the core of this transition; 
  • the transition will have to be just to ensure that there will be a transition at all; 
  • green jobs in renewables and environmental protection are rapidly growing – a development clearly driven by the private sector.   

Vinblad was joined on the panel by Naoko Ishii, former chief executive of the Global Environment Facility and chairperson of the Global Advisory Board of the University of Tokyo; Vladislav Kaim, Children and Youth constituency to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (YOUNGO) Green Jobs focal point and UN Secretary General Youth Advisor on Climate Change; and Nate Williams, senior director, Economic Graph partnerships, LinkedIn. 

“Overall, Stockholm+50 furthered the trend toward convergence of current legally binding environmental deliberations, for example the development of a new Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework via the UN Convention on Biological Diversity and the recently adopted UNEA resolution on plastic pollution,” said Vinblad in summarizing the outcomes of the high-level UN meeting. “By allowing space to discuss all these critical topics and agreements in one joint forum, it yet again emphasized the need to act on the triple planetary crises of climate change, biodiversity loss, and pollution in a cohesive manner, guided by the true interconnectedness of these issues.” 

To find more details on the outcomes of Stockholm+50 and the ten Key Recommendations presented by the co-chairs Sweden and Kenya, please review this document 

Olsen Attends UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Meetings in Senegal on Plastic Pollution

Left to right: Raelene Martin (ICC) and Chris Olsen (USCIB)

In an effort to address global plastic pollution, the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) is seeking to develop an internationally legally binding instrument on plastic pollution, including in the marine environment, based on a comprehensive approach that addresses the full life cycle of plastic. To develop such an instrument, UNEP hosted a series of meetings to set the rules of procedure, leadership and schedule, in Dakar, Senegal from May 30 to June 1.

The meeting in Dakar, officially titled the “Ad hoc open‑ended working group (OEWG) to prepare for the intergovernmental negotiating committee (INC) on plastic pollution” allowed the private sector an opportunity to help inform the UN process. USCIB Policy Manager for Regulation and Trade Chris Olsen represented USCIB at this meeting as a part of the Business and Industry Major Group.

According to Olsen, UNEP Executive Director Inger Anderson made opening remarks which outlined issues for countries to consider when negotiating. Calling for the agreement to be broad and cover the full lifecycle of plastic, be informed by science, have close engagement and involvement with stakeholders, spur solutions for a new economy, and learn from previous multi-lateral environmental agreements (MEAs) while being willing to embrace new and bold innovations in the multilateral space.

USCIB also joined meetings, along with International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) Head of Sustainability Raelene Martin, regarding the role ICC can play in the negotiating process. ICC brings not only a global voice of business, but also a combination of large multinationals and SMEs across its global affiliates.

“It was encouraging to hear consistent support for stakeholder engagement throughout the week both in informal side meetings and in the official negotiations themselves,” said Olsen, reporting from the field. “However, much work remains to be done to educate governments and convene business perspectives between now and the first negotiations (INC1) this fall and then sustain that engagement throughout the INC process. USCIB will continue to develop member engagement in the coming weeks and months, but we encourage members to come to us with any questions, concerns, or ideas of their own for how to get involved. The negotiation of this treaty, and its outcome, will have an impact across industries. It will be important to bring a broad view of private sector voices into the process.”

UNEA and the negotiating governments are looking for new, innovative ways to engage the stakeholder community in the creation of a multistakeholder action agenda.

USCIB Attends UN Global Biodiversity Framework Negotiations in Geneva 

The United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (UN CBD) convened the Open-ended Working Group on the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) in Geneva, Switzerland March 14 – 29 at the Centre International de Conférences Genève.  

Government delegations continued negotiations of the GBF, a proposed set of over twenty targets pertaining to international cooperative action by governments, business and other key actors to protect and steward biodiversity.  

USCIB Senior Vice President for Policy and Global Strategy Norine Kennedy and Policy and Program Associate for Sustainability Agnes Vinblad represented USCIB members during the second week of negotiations in Geneva, March 21 – 25. Kennedy and Vinblad followed developments related to USCIB’s priority targets determined by the USCIB Environment Committee: Target 7 (Pollution and Plastic Waste); Target 13 (Access and Benefit Sharing); Target 15 (Expectations of Business) and Target 17 (Biotechnology). USCIB supported members in attendance, including representatives from Bayer and CropLife.  

USCIB highlighted the importance of all-of-economy approaches, reflecting opportunities and risks in sustainable use and stewardship of biodiversity and ecosystem services. Since the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework is intended to catalyze a participatory inclusive whole-of-society approach, USCIB will continue to advocate meaningful and substantive engagement for business.  

“Looking at new emerging issues for U.S. business relating to this international biodiversity deliberation, we see Digital Sequence Information (DSI) and the sharing of proceeds associated with utilizing this important resource for R&D as an increasingly critical topic,” said Kennedy.  

Target 15 addresses business and biodiversity, and USCIB is concerned about additional burdens on business that could be included in the GBF. Proposals under this draft target include calls for stronger requirements for businesses to assess, monitor, disclose and report dependencies and impacts on biodiversity across operations, value chains and portfolios. USCIB is following these developments closely and will provide members with further details on next steps.

USCIB collaborated with colleagues from ICC who were in attendance including Director of Peace and Prosperity Daphne Yong-d’Hervé and Global Policy Manager of Intellectual Property and Innovation Danny Grajales 

While government delegations made some progress in the GBF negotiations, there will be a further meeting of the GBF Group June 21 – 26 in Nairobi, Kenya to continue negotiations before expected adoption at the resumed UN Biodiversity Conference (COP15) in Kunming, China to take place in the third quarter of 2022 with exact dates yet to be decided.  

USCIB Joins Stockholm+50 Preparatory Meeting at UN Headquarters   

Agnes Vinblad

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the United Nations (UN) Conference on the Human Environment held in Stockholm in 1972, the UN General Assembly will convene an international meeting in Stockholm, Sweden June 2-3, 2022. The theme of the meeting will be, “Stockholm+50: a healthy planet for the prosperity of all – our responsibility, our opportunity.”  

On March 28, the President of the General Assembly Ambassador Abdulla Shahid invited government delegations and civil society to partake in the Stockholm+50 Preparatory Meeting at UN Headquarters in New York. Representing USCIB, Policy and Program Associate for Sustainability Agnes Vinblad attended in person. The meeting was chaired by the Stockholm+50 co-hosts, Sweden and Kenya, with sessions organized around the three Stockholm+50 Leadership Dialogues: 

  • Leadership dialogue 1: Reflecting on the urgent need for actions to achieve a healthy planet and prosperity of all.  
  • Leadership dialogue 2: Achieving a sustainable and inclusive recovery from the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19).  
  • Leadership dialogue 3: Accelerating the implementation of the environmental dimension of sustainable development in the context of the decade of action and delivery for sustainable development.  

Plenary interventions focused on topics such as mitigation and adaptation, climate finance, sustainable production and consumption, nature-based solutions, and the recommendations outlined in the UN Secretary General’s Report, “Our Common Agenda.”  

“This preparatory meeting emphasized systemic change and the need for new ways to measure economic success through a lens of sustainability and intergenerational justice with an ambition of achieving a just transition,” said Vinblad. “USCIB sees Stockholm+50 as an opportunity for business to yet again show its unparalleled ability to not only contribute to – but also take the lead on – sustainable development.” 

Adopted on June 16, 1972, the UN Stockholm Declaration was the first document to recognize the interconnections between development, poverty, and the environment. Building on this heritage, Stockholm+50 will be a global conference focused on multilateral dialogue to accelerate action on the SDGs towards the realization of Agenda 2030, while serving as a critical steppingstone for the global multilateral community on the path towards UNFCCC COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt in November.  

Building on the commemorative nature of Stockholm+50, Vinblad said that USCIB wants to fit business into that narrative, showing that the private sector has been concerned with issues related to sustainability and climate change since the inception of the Stockholm Declaration in 1972. 

USCIB Policy Experts Participate in B20 Indonesia

Several USCIB policy experts are actively participating in B20 2022, the official global business dialogue with G20 nations.

Led by Indonesia this year, the B20 is comprised of seven task forces that develop consensus-based policy proposals outlining business priorities on key issue confronting the G20 nations in the year ahead. Senior Vice President for Innovation, Regulation, and Trade Brian Lowry and Policy and Program Associate for Sustainability Agnes Vinblad are on the Task Force for Integrity and Compliance, USCIB Senior Vice President for Policy and Global Strategy Norine Kennedy is on the Task Force on Energy, Sustainability and Climate, USCIB Vice President for Corporate Responsibility and Labor Affairs Gabriella Rigg Herzog is on the Future of work and Education Task Force, USCIB Vice President for ICT Policy Barbara Wanner is on the Task Force on Digitalization, and Director for Investment, Trade and China Alice Slayton Clark is on the Trade and Investment Task Force.

“USCIB helps shape actionable policy recommendations provided through these task forces that will be shared with the G20 leaders when they meet in Indonesia in November,” said Lowry. “We at USCIB look forward to the advancement of business’ priorities to the G20 policymakers to help inform policies to advance a stable and inclusive post-pandemic economic recovery and supply chain resiliency, while grappling with the difficult national security issues confronting the world today.”

ICC Releases Recent Trends in Trade and Trade Finance Report, Includes Impact of Ukraine Crisis on Global Recovery, Inflation

The International Chamber of Commerce’s (ICC) Global Policy department has recently released the report, Recent Trends in Trade and Trade Finance. This report delves into the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the implications on global trade and finance, as well as the major challenges that can hamper a successful economic recovery.

While focused on trade, banking and finance issues, the report is also relevant to other policy areas, such as ICT, workers and the environment.

To complement this analysis, ICC also released a related presentation, looking at the global impact of the crisis in Ukraine on recovery and further inflation through, for example, supply-chain disruptions, lower consumer and business confidence, inflation in agriculture, manufacturing and energy, as well as liquidity and fiscal risks resulting from currency depreciations and increasing financing costs.

According to ICC, the “Recent Trends in Trade and Trade Finance” report will be used for advocacy geared toward increasing resilience to trade disruptions by enhancing trade digitalization.



Robinson Offers Ideas for WTO Reform at IOE-BIAC Meeting on Postponed WTO Ministerial

The International Organization of Employers (IOE) and Business at OECD (BIAC) co-hosted an event on March 2 to follow up on the postponed World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial. The event, titled “Trade policy to recover and to achieve employment goals and greater resilience: How can an open trading system adapt to the new sustainability expectations?” included representatives of IOE and BIAC member organizations, such as USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson, who gave remarks on the topic: “What is needed for WTO reform?”

In his remarks, Robinson pointed out that all three of WTO’s core functions are in crises—negotiation among WTO’s 164 members whose interests greatly diverge, monitoring trade rules and transparency among members, and dispute settlement—the WTO’s Appellate Body, paralyzed since the end of 2019 thus making WTO trading rights virtually unenforceable.

“These three fundamental functions must be redesigned, reconfigured, or reimagined to be fit for purpose,” said Robinson. He then cited a proposed bill, introduced by Senators Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Chris Coons (D-Delaware), the “Trading Systems Preservation Act,” which could help reinvigorate the WTO by pushing for agreements that aren’t required to be observed on a most-favored nation basis. “On the issue of negotiation, we also support advancing a comprehensive WTO reform agenda that tackles special and differential treatment, distortive non-market industrial subsidies and state-owned enterprises.”

“USCIB would like to lend its voice in emphasizing the importance of the voice of business, among other legitimate stakeholders, at the WTO,” added Robinson. “While initiatives, such as the WTO Public Forum, are welcome opportunities to engage, all stakeholders in the multilateral, rules-based trading system would benefit from greater ongoing opportunities for dialogue – governments, civil society and the private sector alike.”

Other speakers joining Robinson during the meeting included WTO Deputy Director General Angela Ellard, who spoke about updates on the WTO agenda, Business at OECD Trade Committee Chair Pat Ivory, who discussed business priorities for WTO’s response to the pandemic, and the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) Permanent Observer before the UN in Geneva Crispin Conroy, who shared perspectives on trade and environmental sustainability. Speakers from Keidanren, BusinessEurope and BEF discussed the importance of multilateral collaboration, digitization and strengthening inclusivity and sustainability in global trade.

This dialogue was a follow-up to last year’s launch of the “Business Coalition for Trade, Employment and Sustainable Enterprise,” led by IOE and including business organizations that share the belief that the multilateral, rules-based trading system has been a crucial driver not just for economic growth, but also for employment creation and sustainable development, which have played a key role in reducing poverty and raising living standard in many economies.

USCIB On Hand at Historic UN Environment Assembly Launching Global Plastics Pollution Agreement 

The United Nations convened the decision-making UN Environment Assembly (UNEA 5.2) in Nairobi, Kenya from February 28 – March 4, hosted at the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).  

At this meeting, which also commemorated the 50th anniversary of UNEP’s founding, government delegations reached agreement on the resolution, End Plastic Pollution: Towards an International Legally Binding Instrument (LBI) which sets into motion an intergovernmental negotiating committee (INC) to develop the LBI by end of 2024. In addition, UNEA agreed to establish a new Science-Policy Panel on Chemicals, Waste and Pollution, which will be developed in negotiations over the next two years, to serve as a trusted source of consensus in these areas, much in the same way that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is a recognized source of scientific consensus on climate change.

USCIB Senior Vice President for Policy and Global Strategy Norine Kennedy represented USCIB on the ground during this landmark inter-governmental meeting, involving all 193 UN member states. USCIB advocated the essential role business must play in addressing the triple environmental crisis, considering and reflecting all-of-economy realities.

“For USCIB, enabling private sector innovation will be key in limiting plastic pollution in the environment,” said Kennedy. “To unlock the full potential of U.S. business innovation to tackle plastic pollution and advance circular economy approaches, any agreement on plastic pollution needs to be flexible with a mix of legally binding and non-binding elements.”

USCIB conducted a live briefing for members from Nairobi on March 2 to pass on the most up-to-date developments, focusing on outcomes relevant to business. American Chemistry Council (ACC) Senior Director, Global Plastics Policy Stewart Harris provided insights on the business opportunities and challenges ahead in the development of a legally binding instrument to address global plastic pollution. Harris and Kennedy referenced the USCIB Letter to the Administration, which set out USCIB member priorities to the State Department and EPA.

During the briefing, Harris characterized the plastics pollution negotiating mandate as a good outcome for business and industry, enabling business leadership initiatives while also assessing effectiveness and supply chain impacts of proposed actions. Moreover, the resolutions prioritize flexibility and recognize the need to engage business in the treaty’s development. Kennedy also pointed out critical outcomes in the areas of circular economy and sustainable infrastructure, among others. 

On March 10, USCIB’s Environment Committee will convene a meeting which will include a more detailed briefing on the outcomes of UNEA 5.2 and their implications for U.S. Business.