USCIB Calls for Enhanced Action Against Trafficking in Persons

New York, NY, July 30, 2020: On this year’s World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, USCIB joins the global community in calling for enhanced action to combat human trafficking and to recognize the crucial role of first responders in assisting victims of this heinous practice.

“We and our member companies firmly believe that trafficking in persons is a wholly unacceptable affront to human dignity.

“Human trafficking thrives particularly where rule of law is weak; USCIB has been active in working through its global affiliates – the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), Business at OECD (BIAC) and the International Organization of Employers (IOE) – to promote the uptake by governments of relevant international agreements that address governance gaps. We take pride in the actions of the numerous USCIB member companies that are using their global footprints to take proactive measures and champion innovative strategies to uncover and counter human trafficking in the countries where they do business.  

“USCIB is committed to continuing this work in collaboration with all stakeholders to #EndHumanTrafficking.”

Global Business Coalition Launched to Advocate Workforce Use of New COVID-19 Vaccines, Pending Availability

New York, N.Y., July 30, 2020 – The United States Council for International Business (USCIB),  The USCIB Foundation, and Business Partners for Sustainable Development (BPSD) have launched Business Partners to CONVINCE, a global communication and education initiative to promote COVID-19 vaccine acceptance among private sector employers and employees.

The new partnership will play an integral role in a broader multi-sector CONVINCE (COVID-19 New Vaccine Information, Communication, and Education) campaign to advance vaccine literacy and help ensure a strong and swift recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic through widespread acceptance of safe, effective and accessible vaccines. The CONVINCE business coalition will leverage USCIB’s extensive global network of leading international business organizations and multinational corporations to help large employers and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) worldwide to promote vaccine literacy and uptake, while BPSD will help to create public-private partnerships to extend the reach of the Coalition, especially in the developing world. Research has shown that employers are among the most trusted sources of information about pandemic response and recovery.

The global CONVINCE effort was developed initially by Wilton Park, a global forum for strategic discussion affiliated with the UK government, in collaboration with the City University of New York (CUNY) Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy and the Vaccine Confidence Project™ of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. Earlier this year, Wilton Park hosted a series of international dialogues to address the urgent need for collective action to ensure widespread uptake of COVID-19 vaccine(s) when available and boost trust in vaccination in general. Participants in these discussions, which included USCIB, agreed to form the CONVINCE initiative as a mechanism to complement and potentially help integrate existing worldwide efforts to build acceptance and uptake of a COVID-19 vaccine.

USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson stated, “We were pleased to contribute extensively to the Wilton Park dialogues and to highlight the potential role for employers as ‘Trusted Influencers’ as part of the CONVINCE initiative. As the United States affiliate of the International Chamber of Commerce, the International Organization of Employers, and Business at OECD – three of the world’s largest and most representative business organizations – we expect to engage an extensive network to help corporate employers, SMEs and governments meet the intense global and local challenge of health and vaccine promotion. Together, we can mount an unprecedented response to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Prof. Heidi Larson, Director of The Vaccine Confidence Project at LSHTM, and author of Stuck (Oxford University Press, 2020), a definitive overview of global vaccine hesitancy, stated: “We need to start now to listen and engage local communities to build resilience against COVID-19 and recover as societies, schools and economies build a new future. We are thrilled to be part of this important initiative to build public confidence through CONVINCE.”

Nancy Lee, Programme Director at Wilton Park, said, “We are very pleased that the private sector has taken part in our multisector dialogues and has now made this important commitment to promote COVID-19 recovery by supporting global business efforts to build vaccine literacy and support for the potentially game-changing impact of a COVID-19 vaccine.”

Dr. Scott Ratzan, executive director of BPSD and Distinguished Lecturer at CUNY, said “Many people say the only way we can achieve a ’next normal’ world is with a vaccine, but it will take collective action to make this happen. We are pleased to work across sectors with business leaders, employees and customers on the innovative communication programs that are needed urgently to build the foundation of trust that can lead us towards vaccine-protected communities.”

In collaboration with global leaders in the private and public sector, Business Partners to CONVINCE will be a resource to generate evidence rapidly of COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy, and to develop, test and widely disseminate responsible communication programs in line with the goals of the United Nations and respected science and evidence-driven organizations worldwide.

About USCIB: USCIB promotes open markets, competitiveness and innovation, sustainable development and corporate responsibility, supported by international engagement and regulatory coherence. Its members include U.S.-based global companies and professional services firms from every sector of our economy. As the U.S. affiliate of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), Business at OECD (BIAC), and the International Organization of Employers (IOE), USCIB provides business views to policy makers and regulatory authorities worldwide and works to facilitate international trade and investment.

More information is available at www.uscib.org.

Contact: Mike Michener, Vice President for Product Policy and Innovation

Email: mmichener@uscib.org

 

About The USCIB Foundation, Inc.: Since 1980, The USCIB Foundation has been dedicated to a single mission: advancing the benefits of a free market economy and promoting the essential role of the private sector in stimulating economic growth and progress in social development. Today, the Foundation pursues that mission through a portfolio of initiatives that strives to inform future choices made by stakeholders and policy makers that benefit people around the world.

Contact: Abby Shapiro, Secretary and Director

Email: ashapiro@uscib.org

 

About BPSD:  BPSD was launched in 2019 as a Center to create new international public-private partnerships in support of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). BPSD provides a framework for governments, business and civil society to share information, resources, activities and capabilities, and works in collaboration to achieve objectives together that the sectors cannot achieve independently.

Contact:

Dr. Scott Ratzan, Executive Director, Business Partners for Sustainable Development

Email: sratzan@businesspartners4sdgs.org

USCIB Applauds USTR’s Announcement to Include Ed Potter in USMCA Labor Mechanism

Ed Potter addressing the ILO Conference in Geneva in 2015.

New York, NY, July 20, 2020: The U.S. Council for International Business (USCIB), which represents many of America’s leading global companies, applauded the U.S. Trade Representative’s recent announcement of a select panel for the Rapid Response Labor Mechanism, a key tool for the enforcement of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) trade agreement.

“We welcome the inclusion of Ed Potter as one of the select panel members. Potter has worked extensively with USCIB for decades, most recently as former senior counsel for International Labor Affairs and prior to that as a chair of USCIB’s International Labor Affairs Committee (now the Corporate Responsibility and Labor Affairs Committee). Potter is an International Advisory Council Member at the Institute for Human Rights and Business.  For over two decades, he participated on the ILO Committee on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations that holds countries accountable for their obligations resulting from the ratification of ILO conventions.”

Potter is joined by Janice Bellace (Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania), Lance Compa (Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations), Peter Hurtgen (Curley, Hurtgen & Johnsrud LLP), Ira Jaffe (Arbitrator and mediator for labor, employment and benefits disputes) and Kevin Kolben (Rutgers Business School).

The Rapid Response Labor Mechanism, a bilateral annex of the USMCA between the U.S. and Mexico, allows the U.S. to take expedited enforcement actions against individual factories in Mexico that fail to comply with domestic freedom of association and collective bargaining laws.

About USCIB:

USCIB promotes open markets, competitiveness and innovation, sustainable development and corporate responsibility, supported by international engagement and regulatory coherence. Its members include U.S.-based global companies and professional services firms from every sector of our economy, with operations in every region of the world, generating $5 trillion in annual revenues and employing over 11 million people worldwide. As the U.S. affiliate of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), the International Organization of Employers, and Business at OECD (known as BIAC), USCIB helps to provide business views to policy makers and regulatory authorities worldwide, and works to facilitate international trade and investment. More information is available at www.uscib.org.

USCIB Advocates Multilateralism, Partnerships, Vaccine Acceptance During HLPF

Given the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s United Nations High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) was drastically different, necessitating a virtual platform as hundreds of governments, NGOs, and civil society tuned in remotely to side-events rather than congregating at the UN headquarters in New York. Despite the challenges of a remote HLPF, USCIB retained its active leadership role, co-organizing side-events on inclusive multilateralism, the private sector’s role in educating the public about vaccines, and partnerships to fight COVID-19 and to advance the UN 2030 Development Agenda.

Inclusive Multilateralism

USCIB kicked off the week with a side-event on “Inclusive Multilateralism in Action: Working Together to Build Stronger, Resilient and Sustainable Economies” on July 7. USCIB, which serves as co-chair of the UN’s Business and Industry Major Group, partnered with the International Organization of Employers (IOE), the UN Global Compact, the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and the American Chemistry Council on the event. Dialogue among experts during the panels highlighted synergies at the national and global levels of COVID-19 response and recovery with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and made the case of mainstreaming private sector partnership and expertise into the UN Decade of Action and Delivery.

The USCIB Foundation’s Business Partners for Sustainable Development (BPSD) Initiative Executive Director Dr. Scott Ratzan spoke on one of the panels alongside, First Vice Chair of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) Maria Fernanda Garza, Secretary General, International Organization of Employers (IOE) Roberto Suarez Santos and UN Global Compact Executive Director Sanda Ojiambo. USCIB Vice President for International Strategic Engagement, Energy and Environment Norine Kennedy moderated a panel which explored best practices from business in developing partnerships to address food security, health and waste management challenges, all of which have become more difficult for the global community to tackle in light of COVID-19.

“The presentations highlighted the role of business as ‘first responders’ in several key areas of the pandemic response,” said Kennedy. In concluding the panel, Kennedy summed up what is needed as businesses merge their SDG plans with crisis response and recovery: “Inclusive multilateralism involving and mainstreaming private sector dialogue and implementation is not a nice-to-have; it is a must-have for a successful UN Decade of Delivery, Action and Recovery.”

Partnerships

BPSD was also featured at a July 7 side-event organized by the UN 2030 Agenda Partnership Accelerator. Titled “Partnerships against COVID-19 – building back better together to advance the 2030 Agenda,” the event explored how partnerships can assist developing countries in addressing challenges of the coronavirus and its aftermath while promoting synergies between key sectors, such as the scientific and technological community and the private sector. Ratzan, representing BPSD, joined a select group of experts including Sustainable Development Officer, Division for Sustainable Development Goals, UN DESA Ola Goransson, Resident Coordinator, Mauritius and Seychelles Christine N. Umutoni and Professor and Department Chair of Development Sociology, Cornell University, member of the Independent Group of Scientists for the Global Sustainable Development Report Parfait Eloundou-Enyegue.

Scientific Advances and Vaccination Acceptance

BPSD Executive Director Scott Ratzan

BPSD, together with the UN Technology Facilitation Mechanism, UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), and City University of New York (CUNY) Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy organized “COVID-19 vaccines: scientific advances, access models and vaccination acceptance,” on July 10 to explore the status of scientific research advances, implications for policy, and generating public trust in science and building vaccine literacy, and addressing misleading vaccine information.

“Despite the major technological advances that have enlisted industry to fast track a COVID-19 vaccine, all these efforts will be for nought if not enough people accept a vaccine to reach the necessary community protection, also termed herd immunity,” warned Ratzan. “Vaccine hesitancy threatens uptake for a COVID-19 vaccine before it has even been developed. Anti-vaccination advocates are spreading disinformation and inciting fears including vaccine side effects, safety and/or efficacy. Compounding these ongoing issues is a reality in which globally, many do not believe COVID-19 is a real threat. While we are not sure how entrenched these groups are in their disbelief of the risks of coronavirus infection or believe the pandemic is a conspiracy,  there is much work to do to build vaccine literacy and combat a pervasive anti-science, anti-truth rhetoric.”

Ratzan also presented “The CONVINCE Initiative” (COVID-19 New Vaccine Information, Communication, and Education), which will bring together key players in a multisectoral collaboration to formulate a whole-of-society approach to create frameworks, best practices and platforms to ensure vaccine uptake.

USCIB Joins With Global Community to Oppose Revision to ISO 26000

USCIB joined with several other U.S. business associations in opposing a recent proposal to revise ISO 26000 on Social Responsibility, develop implementation guidelines or standards and create a new Technical Committee (TC) on Social Responsibility.  After a five-year global negotiation, ISO 26000 was released in November of 2010 as a guidance document rather than a management systems for certification purposes and it remains a valuable resource for companies.

USCIB Vice President for Corporate Responsibility and Labor Affairs Gabriella Rigg Herzog observed that the proposal currently before ISO would, “not only reverse the consensus achieved over the five year negotiation, but would also divert resources and away from ongoing implementation and innovation in the field of social responsibility.”

Global stakeholders who also opposed this proposal included leading human rights NGOs, the International Trade Union Confederation, the International Organization of Employers (IOE), and the International Labor Organization (ILO). Moreover, and as was expressed by ILO Secretary-General Guy Ryder, adoption of this proposal would divert focus from and undermine universally accepted standards on human rights and labor issues, including the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, ILO Conventions, the ILO Tripartite Declaration of Principles concerning Multinational Enterprises and Social Policy, and the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises.

USCIB continues to follow this matter and will be in communication with members and our global affiliates as this matter develops.

Robinson Featured in ILO’s “First Person: COVID-19 Stories” Series

USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson

The International Labor Organization (ILO) launched a series of “First person: COVID-19 stories from the world of work,” collecting stories from around the globe and giving a voice to government officials, business owners and essential workers, those working from home and those who have lost their jobs, young people just entering the world of work and retirees-turned-volunteers.

Recently, USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson gave an interview of how the pandemic has affected USCIB, how it is responding, lessons learned from the experience and how we will all be “confronting a new reality” rather than a “return to normal.”

“One major lesson of this pandemic is a reaffirmation that we are all global citizens and we are fighting against an enemy that knows no border, so we must ensure that we join hands across borders and work together in a multilateral way on an economic recovery that is inclusive,” said Robinson.

Robinson also discussed USCIB’s approaches in ensuring the safety of its employees, objectives to support USCIB’s international network (such as that of the International Organization of Employers), and engaging in global work in more vulnerable economies where livelihoods are being upended and where Small and Medium Enterprises deserve special attention.

To view Robinson’s video, click here.

To view the collection of stories compiled by the ILO, please visit here.

USCIB Concerned Over Reported Administration Changes to US Nonimmigrant Visa Programs

June 17, 2020, New York, New York — The United States Council for International Business (USCIB) expressed concern over reports of potentially restrictive changes to the U.S. nonimmigrant work and exchange visa programs under consideration by the U.S. Administration. The confusion caused by these reports creates uncertainty for U.S. businesses at the worst possible time – when companies are working to join with government and labor to secure a successful economic recovery following the negative health and economic impacts that COVID-19 has had on the U.S. and global economies.

As USCIB has long expressed, labor migration contributes to vibrant economies and requires clear, transparent, stable and efficient government migration policies that support U.S. workers and businesses. We support meaningful dialogue to reform U.S. immigration laws through a consultative regulatory process that includes engagement with the U.S. employer community. We join our members in the belief that drastic restrictions to nonimmigrant work visa programs and added burdens on companies seeking to use these programs will only constrain efforts to revive the U.S. economy to the detriment of workers and employers. Such restrictions also pose potential short- and long-term consequences for U.S. competitiveness by disconnecting domestic businesses from vital sources of talent and innovation and risk the loss of critical jobs and investments to foreign competitors.

About USCIB:

USCIB promotes open markets, competitiveness and innovation, sustainable development and corporate responsibility, supported by international engagement and regulatory coherence. Its members include U.S.-based global companies and professional services firms from every sector of our economy, with operations in every region of the world, generating $5 trillion in annual revenues and employing over 11 million people worldwide. As the U.S. affiliate of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), the International Organization of Employers, and Business at OECD (BIAC), USCIB helps to provide business views to policy makers and regulatory authorities worldwide, and works to facilitate international trade and investment. More information is available at www.uscib.org.

Contact:
Kira Yevtukhova, USCIB
+1 202.617.3160, kyevtukhova@uscib.org

COVID-19 Highlights Deep-Rooted Challenges of Informal Sectors

At a recent OECD virtual meeting, USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson discussed one of the main, deep-rooted structural challenges underpinning the global economy—informality—the extent of which has been highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Robinson noted during his remarks at the annual OECD Global Forum on COVID-19 and Responsible Business Conduct that in the longer-term, solutions are going to require dialogue, cooperation and partnership – particularly with regards to issues impacting vulnerable economies.

Informality represents approximately 60% of workers and 80% of businesses worldwide. It is at risk of expanding due to the current economic downturn. The informal sector work is characterized by high degrees of poverty and serious decent work deficits.

“If we can find ways of incentivizing informal firms to formalize, we support both a sustainable recovery by mitigating the size of the problem and advance workers’ rights, good governance and responsible business conduct for the SME and larger companies linked to them through business relationships,” said Robinson. “One critical bottom line in creating an environment that incentivizes and promotes the uptake of responsible business conduct is the fundamental importance of rule of law, enforcement, and well-functioning institutions.”

Robinson also reiterated USCIB’s commitment to responsible business conduct.

USCIB has advocated with the U.S. Department of State to mobilize multilateral development bank assistance for vulnerable economies, particularly for social protection systems and rapid access to relief funds to SMEs to prevent closures and provide funding to workers until they can get back to work.

Robinson Reiterates Commitment to Responsible Business Conduct

Robinson participates virtually in the OECD Global Forum

USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson participated virtually in the annual OECD Global Forum on COVID-19 and Responsible Business Conduct (RBC), which was held on May 19.

The COVID-19 crisis has dramatically disrupted business and exposed major vulnerabilities in the economy and global supply chains. The event gathered thought leaders from government and business, trade unions, civil society, academia and international organizations to discuss how responsible business conduct can build value and more resilient supply chains in a post-COVID-19 world and how we can use the ongoing pandemic to integrate responsible business thinking into policies and action to bring remedy to people, meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and tackle climate change.

Speakers, including Robinson, discussed a variety of themes including the promotion of business responsibility in a post-COVID-19 world; the role of responsible business conduct in government support and recovery packages and how innovative engagement across stakeholders can promote responsible and resilient supply chains.

Robinson spoke on a panel titled, Building Value: The Role of RBC in Government Support and Recovery Packages. “Business is committed to RBC as highlighted in the MNE Guidelines,” emphasized Robinson. “RBC is good business and the crisis is not an excuse to fail to uphold responsible business conduct. In fact, there are many examples of companies already contributing meaningfully to relief and recovery in terms of donations of personal protection equipment, retrofitting production to produce needed emergency supplies, addressing employee safety, etc.”

USCIB has advocated with the U.S. Department of State to mobilize multilateral development bank assistance for vulnerable economies, particularly for social protection systems and rapid access to relief funds to SMEs to prevent closures and provide funding to workers until they can get back to work.

The annual OECD Global Forum has become the leading event for governments, businesses, trade unions and civil society to promote international dialogue on RBC and contribute to the effective implementation of the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises.

Robinson Shares US Perspective During Virtual Briefing on Socio-Economic Impacts of COVID-19 With ILO Director General

USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson joined International Organization of Employers (IOE) members from around the world in a virtual dialogue meeting with ILO Director General Guy Ryder. The April 30th briefing allowed for employers to gain better understanding of how the ILO is responding to the socio-economic impacts of COVID-19.

According to the IOE, this briefing attracted 112 participants from across the world.

Robinson’s remarks included the state of the U.S. economic situation, which included somber statistics regarding U.S. GDP, which has contracted 4.8% in the first quarter of this year and U.S. unemployment claims as of April 30, which reached a total of over thirty million.

“The impacts in the U.S. are sadly not unique,” said Robinson. “Every IOE member on this call and every ILO member state has been similarly laid low – especially vulnerable economies already beset by existing challenges.”

“At USCIB we’re particularly concerned with the inadequacies of social protection systems worldwide, but especially in vulnerable economies, as well as lack of access for SMEs in those countries to capital to maintain their financial viability during this crisis,” added Robinson.

USCIB has raised this issue, and others, with the U.S. government.

“As we look to the future and recovery, let’s be bold,” urged Robinson. “We’re in the first year of the ILO’s second century and we are faced with an enormous challenge. Now, more than ever is the time to take clear and focused action together to harness the unique strength of the ILO and its tripartite constituency. Let’s find unity in purpose to support the ILO’s role in helping the world ‘build back better’ by focusing on core issues of shared priority – looking to the ILO Centenary Declaration as our guide. Count on USCIB, our members and the IOE as your committed partners for our recovery together.”