Following an intense time of U.S.-Japan trade friction that many members will recall vividly, the U.S. and Japan economic partnership in recent years has become one of the strongest U.S. bilateral partnerships. Today, we are entering uncharted waters in U.S.-Japan economic relations as the two governments focus on areas to make bilateral trade more free, fair and reciprocal.
With this as our backdrop, the Board identified relevant and strong advocacy as a strategic focus area with an emphasis on reinforcing the quality and agility of our advocacy efforts.
To better enable and accelerate our advocacy efforts, the Board also sought to ensure we gave greater voice to and connect the “bottom-up” work of our committees with the CEOs of our member companies. Alongside the CEO Forum, we established the F500 CEO Advisory Council and the Small Company CEO Advisory Council earlier this year. By bringing our committees and CEOs to work together on vital issues, we are fostering closer engagement of committee leadership and senior leadership at member companies. This is strengthening the quality and agility of our advocacy efforts.
Seat at the table
These efforts to bring together our committees and our CEOs is already showing results. Earlier this summer, the Small Company CEO Advisory Council and the Taxation Committee identified an issue that has potential to have significant consequences on our small company members: the GILTI and Transition Tax, which were included in the 2017 US Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Through their collaborative efforts, the ACCJ is now one of only a few organizations around the world that has identified this issue and drafted actionable recommendations to address it.
Recognizing the need to act by presenting these recommendations to key policymakers, the Small Company CEO Advisory Council carried out its first Doorknock in Washington, D.C. September 13 and 14. In nearly 20 meetings with the US Congress and the US Department of the Treasury, Council Chair Harry Hill and Council Member Frank Packard represented Americans who own small businesses in Japan and abroad as they spoke to the reality of what these rules will mean for them and shared concrete recommendations to alleviate their impact. As a result of their efforts, the ACCJ is now working with the US Treasury to further explore a possible remedy.
This Doorknock is a superb example of Chamber advocacy acting in its best form- quickly and effectively on behalf of our members. The achievement is best explained in an interview posted on the ACCJ website and our social media channels in which Frank shares how well the ACCJ delegation was received: “There is a lot of interest in what we have to say, what our Taxation Committee has to say. We have a seat at the table.”
Work is also ongoing in our other cross-cutting advocacy themes. In response to the rise of work style reform on the Government of Japan’s agenda, the Chamber is once again playing an active role by sharing global best practices and presenting actionable recommendations on workforce productivity – a key advocacy theme across the Chamber.
On September 19, the Human Resource Management Committee published its viewpoint on the business case for marriage equality, which has gained the support of four other foreign chambers of commerce and is sparking debate through press coverage on this issue. The ACCJ F500 CEO Advisory Council is also contributing to advocacy around workforce productivity and is set to release its recommendations on how Japan can continue to build upon the momentum created by the workstyle reform legislation passed by the Japanese Diet this summer.
Thanks to the expertise of our committees and CEO Councils, the ACCJ plays a critical and informative role through various mechanisms, including with Ambassador Hagerty, with visiting US government officials and door-knocks in Washington DC, and with Diet members in Tokyo.
The strength and relevancy of our advocacy is driven by member involvement. From the nuts-and-bolts of researching and developing position papers, through extending insights and networks, to meeting with policymakers on topics of concern, you are critical to this process.
Given the various opportunities the current political and economic climate present, consider the example of our Small Company CEO Advisory Council to think what difference you can bring to the Chamber’s capabilities. I encourage you to get involved and support our efforts to be an important voice in this new era of the US-Japan economic partnership.
I welcome your feedback on this and any other matters. Please share your ideas with me at email@example.com
Sachin N. Shah