USCIB Releases Statement Recognizing World Day Against Trafficking in Persons

New York, N.Y., July 30, 2021—The United States Council for International Business (USCIB) joins the global community in recognizing World Day Against Trafficking in Persons and released the following statement:

We are proud of the work our corporate members do to engage in the fight against trafficking, including initiatives to train employees to spot signs of human trafficking and conducting thorough human rights due diligence to mitigate instances of forced labor in their supply chains. We welcome this year’s theme, “Victims’ Voices Lead the Way,” and are committed to centering the needs of victims and survivors on the road away from exploitation. That those who are trafficked often experience revictimization and stigmatization throughout their post-rescue experiences is a tragic and unacceptable compounding of abuse.

Available statistics on human trafficking reveal a devastating and unacceptable state of human rights abuse that implicates every country. An estimated 24.9 million people worldwide are victims of trafficking. Women and girls are particularly vulnerable, making up forty-six percent and ninteen percent of victims respectively, and one in three victims detected is a child. A study released by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) illustrates the devastating impact of COVID-19 on victims and survivors of human trafficking and highlights the increased targeting and exploitation of children during the course of the pandemic.

USCIB and our members continue to take decisive action in the fight against human trafficking. The private sector continues to design and implement innovative programs to root out this type of abuse in supply chains. USCIB is a member of the ILO Global Business Network on Forced Labour (GBNFL). Operating across all sectors and geographies, ILO GBNFL members and partners work to engage smaller enterprises, develop resources and tools and devise local solutions that help shape national frameworks to create lasting change.

Governments must do their part in enacting labor laws that meet international standards, investing in capacity building to implement, monitor and remediate abuses and working with stakeholders to take preventative action. Many governments have already taken critical actions against trafficking, as evidenced in the U.S. Department of Labor’s Trafficking in Persons Report. 

USCIB and our members stand ready to work with civil society, academics, governments and others in the fight against human trafficking. We are committed to ensuring victims and survivors are treated with dignity and respect and given opportunities in their post-rescue journeys. 

Please see resources:

ILO’s Forced labour, modern slavery and human trafficking

United Nations Human Trafficking

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. As the U.S. affiliate of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), the International Organization of Employers (IOE) and Business at OECD (BIAC), USCIB provides business views to policy makers and regulatory authorities worldwide and works to facilitate international trade and investment. More at www.uscib.org.

OECD Concludes Final Workshop on Illicit Trade in E-Commerce Series

The OECD Task Force on Countering Illicit Trade (TF-CIT) recently concluded the third and final workshop in their “Project on Illicit Trade in E-Commerce” series, focusing on the experiences of online platform operators in combatting counterfeiting. Business at OECD Anti-Illicit Trade Expert Group (AITEG) supported these workshops as part of the new public-private partnership with TF-CIT.

USCIB Anti-Illicit Trade Committee Chair David Luna, joined by, among others, USCIB members from Amazon, eBay and Walmart, used this workshop to express their concerns and ongoing approaches towards combating illicit trade, as well as, possible ways forward, including companies’ online platforms planning to make better use of Artificial Intelligence (AI), for example, with regards to improved authentication programs and a greater focus on addressing intellectual property fraud. USCIB members highlighted that to counter illicit trade more effectively, closer partnerships within the business community are essential and stressed that collaboration with public authorities, as well as business chambers and associations should be enhanced.

“As the Business at OECD AITEG Chair, I applaud our new partnership with the OECD Task Force on Countering Illicit Trade (TF-CIT),” said Luna, “and I commend our members for their commitment to work through public-private partnerships to help fight illicit trade across the digital world. Together through collective action, information-sharing, and best practices, we can proactively target today’s online nefarious actors and criminal networks involved in the trafficking in counterfeit and pirated goods.”

As this was the final workshop on illicit trade in e-commerce, the OECD TF-CIT has created a website dedicated to this project available here.

Lowry Serves as Witness at Hearing on Forced Labor in Supply Chains

USCIB Senior Vice President for Innovation, Regulation and Trade Brian Lowry served as a witness during the House Ways and Means (HWM) Trade Subcommittee Hearing addressing, “The Global Challenge of Forced Labor in Supply Chains: Strengthening Enforcement and Protecting Workers” on July 21.

According to Congressman Earl Blumenauer, who served as chair, the hearing was held “to shine a light on some of these countries, regions and sectors, to consider U.S. enforcement efforts, and to discuss ways we can work with our trading partners to cooperate on eradicating forced labor in our supply chains.”

At the center of Lowry’s testimony were proposed operational changes to U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) Withhold Release Order (WRO) process. USCIB’s proposed multi-step process, includes CBP providing companies with information about allegations earlier in the WRO process, providing companies sixty-days to respond with information critical to the investigation and instituting a time-limited process. The proposal seeks to improve CBP’s forced labor enforcement process by increasing transparency and encouraging greater collaboration with the trade community.

“Greater transparency by Customs upon initiation of an investigation and prior to the issuance of a withhold release order would enable the business community to partner with Customs to address forced labor and prevent the importation of prohibited goods,” stated Lowry.

“We strongly believe that Customs must modernize, update and align its regulations, policies and procedures to address the evolving threat of forced labor in supply chains in partnership with the business community,” he continued.

In conclusion Lowry reiterated, “Our proposed process will create a reasonable, transparent and – most importantly – effective system for combatting forced labor in supply chains.

Chairman Blumenauer demonstrated his interest in USCIB’s viewpoint by directing his first question to Lowry, and later stating, “Mr. Lowry, I look forward to working with you refining some of this going forward.”  The Chairman concluded the hearing, expressing his view that this “was just one of the best hearings I’ve been privileged to participate in. I appreciate what our witnesses do and appreciate the engagement of our members making it such a constructive effort.”

Other witnesses included Neha Misra, global lead, Migration and Human Trafficking, Solidarity Center; Jennifer Rosenbaum, executive director, Global Labor Justice-International Labor Rights Forum; Charity Ryerson, executive director, Corporate Accountability Lab and Genevieve LeBaron, professor of politics, University of Sheffield.

A recording of the full hearing can be found here.

USCIB Letter Urges Agreement on EU-US Personal Data Flows

USCIB submitted a letter to both the U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo and the European Commissioner for Justice Didier Reynders regarding the transatlantic agreement on EU-U.S. personal data flows.

The July 14 letter, signed by a variety of sectors across the transatlantic business community, urged a swift agreement for a new, strengthened EU-U.S. framework.

The letter noted: “we were encouraged by the recent EU-U.S. Summit commitment to ‘work together to ensure safe, secure, and trusted cross-border data flows that protect consumers and enhance privacy protections, while enabling Transatlantic commerce’ and to ‘strengthen legal certainty in Transatlantic flows of personal data.’”

According to the letter, thousands of European and American companies continue to be impacted by the EU’s Court of Justice judgement that invalidated the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield Framework just over a year ago.

“USCIB’s ICT Policy Committee will continue to monitor the Privacy Shield negotiations closely and engage with appropriate U.S. Government officials given the importance of a new sustainable transfer framework agreement to reinvigorating both U.S. and EU economic and business interests,” said Barbara Wanner, USCIB vice president for ICT policy.

USCIB Member Appointed to Leadership Role in ICC Commission on Customs and Trade Facilitation

John Bescec, Microsoft

The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) Commission on Customs and Trade Facilitation has announced that Microsoft’s John Bescec has been appointed as new chair of the commission. Bescec is currently a vice chair of the USCIB Customs and Trade Facilitation Committee (CTFC) and a director of Customs and Trade Affairs at Microsoft.

“We are delighted to advise that ICC Secretary General John W.H. Denton has appointed new officers of the ICC Commission on Customs and Trade Facilitation,” said ICC Global Policy Director Andrew Wilson. “Together with the ICC HQ team, the officers will form a new Steering Group for the Commission to guide our work to tackle customs frictions globally — including our engagement with the World Customs Organization.”

Bescec, who is based in Canada and represents Microsoft at both USCIB and ICC – Canada, was jointly nominated for the position by USCIB and ICC-Canada. He will be stepping down as vice chair of the USCIB Committee to focus his efforts on the ICC Commission.

USCIB thanks Bescec for his leadership commitments and looks forward to actively working with him and the newly appointed ICC Commission Vice Chairs, who include Irina Kitiashvili, chief operating officer, IDS Borjomi Beverages (Georgia), Mahmut Kobal, group head of customs and international trade, Beiersdorf (Germany), Karen Poujade, group customs director, Alstom (France), Anil Rajput, senior vice president of corporate affairs, ITC Ltd (India), Alejandro Terzián, head of the Center of Excellence for International Trade and Customs Compliance, Bayer LATAM (Argentina).

“Working with the new leadership group, we will take the opportunity to assess specific areas of engagement in the coming weeks — including the status and mandates of existing working groups within the Commission’s remit,” added Wilson.

WTO and UN Host Global Dialogue on Trade and Food

USCIB Senior Vice President, Innovation, Regulation, and Trade Brian Lowry participated in an outreach event on July 6 convened by the World Trade Organization (WTO) Secretariat in collaboration with the United Nations Food Systems Summit.

The Global Dialogue on Trade; Trade, An Essential Piece of the of the Food Systems Puzzle was curated by Dr. David Nabarro and convened to encourage an informal dialogue and exchange of views amongst invited participants, representing a broad range of stakeholders from government, civil society, business, farmers, academia and more.

A high-level opening plenary with WTO Director General Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Special Envoy of the United Nations Food Systems Summit Dr. Alice Kalibata, was followed by discussions in ten breakout sessions amongst invited participants under Chatham House rules. Lowry participated in breakout discussion on Realizing the Human Right to Food, which was facilitated by Michael Fakhri, UN special rapporteur on the Right to Food. Other sessions focused on topics such as, international trade in food in times of crisis, global agricultural value chains, nutrition security, ensuring sustainable food trade and food safety.

According to Lowry, no reports or outcomes will emerge from the discussions in the breakout rooms. A high-level closing plenary presented in broad terms some of the subjects discussed in the breakout sessions and included closing remarks by WTO Deputy Director General Jean-Marie Paugam.

USCIB-IOE United Nations Side-Event Focuses on Global Recovery, Private Sector Innovation

As in previous years, USCIB, as part of the recognized Business and Industry Major Group at the United Nations in New York, hosted a side-event during the United Nations High-Level Political Forum (HLPF). Co-organized with the International Organization of Employers (IOE), this year’s event focused on private sector partnerships and contributions to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) and to powering a global recovery from the pandemic’s economic and social devastation.  A key element of this official HLPF business side-event was on encouraging and deploying business innovation.

The event brought together leaders from companies, employer organizations, the multilateral system, and more, to explore the innovative ways that business can be a valuable partner in defeating the pandemic, while restoring lost progress towards SDG’s. The event featured two panels; one focused on COVID-19 recovery and the second on private sector innovation, including on addressing climate change and the digital divide. USCIB speakers from Microsoft and Novozymes flagged the criticality of business engagement through partnerships with government, UN bodies and other stakeholders.

“Building forward better sustainably in the Decade of Action and Delivery will require a stronger than ever commitment to multi-stakeholder engagement and partnership,” said USCIB Senior Vice President Norine Kennedy. “Business is committed to the SDG’s, not only because implementing the 2030 Agenda is the right thing to do, but also because of the strong business case for doing so. The UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development offers business opportunities for new markets, job creation and sustainability solutions.”

Dr. Scott Ratzan provided an update on The USCIB Foundation’s initiative, “Business Partners to CONVINCE,” and its Global COVID-19 Workplace Challenge, which is tackling vaccine hesitancy and misinformation, especially in the work place.

According to Dr. Ratzan, “the private sector has been at the forefront of tackling the pandemic – from the historic race to develop vaccines, to opening premises to production of PPE and vaccination campaigns, to training and educating employees on public health and safety. Business has shown that it can and should be a meaningful partner in building back better, contributing not just funding, but innovation, expertise, technology, fresh ideas and diverse perspectives of business and employers, particularly Small and Medium Enterprises, who are so crucial to economic growth at the local level.”

In the News: USCIB Quoted in Tax Notes Following OECD Global Tax Update

USCIB Vice President for Taxation Policy Rick Minor was quoted in a lead article in Tax Notes on July 6 regarding the significant global tax update statement made on July 5 by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

The OECD inclusive framework on base erosion and profit shifting confirmed that 130 of its 139 members have agreed on key elements of the plan, which aims to address the tax challenges of an increasingly digital and globalized economy.

According to the OECD, the 130 countries and jurisdictions represent more than ninety-percent of global GDP.

In the Tax Notes article, Minor said the USCIB’s members will follow the inclusive framework’s progress closely. “I understand the next significant document will be the design and implementation plan mentioned in the statement,” he said. “We should expect consultation with the business community will continue more earnestly now.”

USCIB Tax Committee members Will Morris (PwC) and Robert Stack (Deloitte) were also quoted.

USCIB Mourns the Passing of Rob Mulligan

Rob Mulligan (right)
Left: Rick Johnston
Center: Peter Robinson

USCIB members, staff and our global network are mourning the passing on June 20 of Rob Mulligan, former senior vice president for policy and government affairs.

Rob joined USCIB in October 2010 as Senior Vice President, Washington and was promoted to Head of Policy in 2013. With his broad Washington experience, knowledge of trade and investment policy, sound judgement, and always constructive advice, he was a valuable leader in and contributor to our organization.

“Following his passing, we at USCIB have been impressed and inspired by the number and kinds of messages that have been received from so many different corners of the world, just as we have been sad to have to say farewell to our colleague Rob,” said USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson. “We shall miss him.”

USCIB Board Member, Chair of USCIB’s Trade Committee and Business at OECD (BIAC) Chair Rick Johnston (Citibank) added: “Rob was a great friend and colleague in our DC international trade community—a real leader in helping us define and refine issues.”

Hanni Rosenbaum, BIAC Executive Director, noted “Having worked with Rob for many years, we will always remember him, his strong commitment to our common objectives and his courageous battle during his illness.”

USCIB is Committed to Fighting for LGBTQI+ Equality and Inclusion

Pride Month may be coming to an end, but USCIB is committed to fighting for LGBTQI+ equality and inclusion throughout the year.

As stated in Article 1 of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights, “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.”

In her statement for Pride Month, United States Ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield pointed out: “The struggle to end violence, discrimination, criminalization, and stigma against LGBTQI+ persons is a global challenge that deserves a global response. LGBTQI+ status or conduct is still criminalized in more than 70 countries or territories, and many individuals continue to face discrimination, harassment, and violence at work, at school, and in public accommodations.”

USCIB and our members are committed to treating all individuals with dignity, respect and equity and call on the international community to fight for the human rights of LGBTQI+ individuals around the world.