Remarks at the Global Reporting Initiative Roundtable

Lisa J. Kubiske
Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Finance and Development, Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs
Washington, DC
June 22, 2015

As Prepared

Welcome to what I consider to be an incredibly important collaboration – and thank you for taking time out of your very busy schedules to be here this afternoon. Many of our private sector participants have come long distances to participate in these roundtables, and we greatly appreciate their willingness to do so. Although this is an event jointly organized by GRI and The State Department’s Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs, GRI has done more than its fair share of the preparations. Teresa, Robyn, and the rest of the GRI team have done an incredible job.

2015 will be a critical year for development and for the multilateral system. Three major UN conferences this year together have the potential to form a global consensus on development that could last 15 years or more and have impacts that affect generations to come.

All the reflection and analysis that takes place before these conferences reinforces what we already know: the private sector is the key player in advancing development. This is why it is so important that GRI brought together such innovative and dynamic U.S. companies here today so that we in the U.S. government can learn from and capitalize on your experiences and best practices.

For 17 years, the Secretary of State has, through the “ACE” awards or Awards for Corporate Excellence, formally recognized U.S. businesses that undertake responsible activities to improve lives and advance the needs of local communities around the world.

Beyond private philanthropy and corporate social responsibility, the private sector is a key partner in development through establishing new enterprises, creating jobs, providing goods and services, generating income and profits, and contributing to public revenues. Domestic private sector growth is the lifeblood to developing countries’ economies, whereby businesses deliver investment, trade, jobs, and innovation. Domestic private finance has greatly surpassed public finance in recent years, making it the single largest source of finance for all developing countries.

According to World Bank, in 2014, private infrastructure investment for energy, transport and water projects was $107.5 billion among the 139 emerging economies. Foreign direct investment (FDI) is by far the biggest source of international capital flows to developing countries – around 60% on average.

But there is also growing recognition that some of the most important, effective development initiatives involve the public and private sectors working together. Today, Official Development Assistance represents only about 28% of all official and private flows from OECD members. Through innovative financing mechanisms and public-private partnerships, ODA can spur key investments and prompt important reforms in developing countries that enable the private sector to have even more impact.

The UN conferences this year provide a real opportunity to reaffirm and build upon the global development consensus that we developed in Monterrey and confirmed in Doha. And the private sector should be at the heart of that consensus.

The U.S. Government is taking initiative to make the world a more hospitable place for U.S. businesses to set up shop. We are negotiating trade and investment agreements. Some are in the headlines, like TPP and T-TIP. Some, less so, like the China BIT negotiations. We are also working hard to put together the National Action Plan on Responsible Business Conduct that President Obama announced last September. We believe the plan will help to consolidate the excellent brand and reputation U.S. businesses have established around the world by being responsible partners in development for nations and communities alike.

I look forward to today’s discussion and the ideas that come from it. And I am excited about finding new ways we can further collaborate and drive private sector investment and public private partnerships.