United States Council for International Business

Brands on a Mission: USCIB Interviews Public Health Expert and Acclaimed Author Myriam Sidibe

Myriam Sidibe

USCIB sat down (virtually) with Myriam Sidibe, author of “Brands on a Mission: How to achieve social impact and business growth through purpose” (Routledge, 2020). “Brands on a Mission” was released on May 26 and immediately secured a #1 New Release Business Ethics category in Amazon Prime, being reviewed by Forbes, the FT and Global CEO Forum. Sidibe has worked with USCIB through The USCIB Foundation’s partnership with Business Fights Poverty; she has also worked closely with The USCIB Foundation “Business Partners for Sustainable Development” Executive Director Dr. Scott Ratzan.


You are a strong believer that brands must play a major role in promoting public health.  What led you to this view?

When I was ten years old, I fell into a septic tank. I couldn’t get out, I flailed around in the dark, screaming for help, sure I would die. I nearly drowned in shit. Today I remember the taste, the smell, the shame like it was yesterday. It remains one of the worst days of my life.

But it was also one of the best days of my life. It kicked off my career in health and hygiene – a career that has taken me all over the world – from Boston to Bujumbura, London to Mumbai, from the public to the private sector. Because I fell in that toilet’s septic tank, I was inspired and motivated to spend decades of my life getting rid of shit, literally! Whether by building toilets or washing hands.

Of course I didn’t want anyone else to have that hellish sensation, that near-death experience, that burning shame. I could relate to the 2 billion people that still lack a toilet.

After studying at some of the world’s greatest universities, I joined an NGO in Burundi, building toilets and handwashing facilities in war zones. Many of them remained unused as people preferred open air to our toilets, often using them for storing dried grain. Something didn’t feel right. We kept talking about ‘beneficiaries’, a term that bothered me deeply, as did the constant focus on the donors who paid for everything. Our success depended on writing grant applications for funding, and those grants measured success by how many toilets we built.

But I kept seeing a lot of empty toilets, as the ‘beneficiaries’ weren’t using them. I wondered, was my career going to be constantly chasing donor money to build unused toilets? Was I going to make decisions for powerless people? As a young African woman, I wanted to be part of the development of my continent. But my work felt both undignified for the beneficiaries and unsatisfying for me. So if the humanitarian route wasn’t for me, what else was there?

I went back to school, equipped myself with a doctorate in public health from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, then spent a few years researching and monitoring children washing hands or rather not washing hands. And then I presented my findings to the company that had funded my research: Unilever. They offered me a job.

And very soon, I fell in love – not with a fancy marketer but with a word. Crazy as this sounds the word was ‘consumer’. I realised that Unilever didn’t treat its audiences as beneficiaries, but as

consumers. Instead of offering hand-me-downs and pity, Unilever treated consumers, however vulnerable they might be, with respect and dignity. That’s because consumers have a choice: they choose with their wallet what to do with their money.

It was an exciting moment that changed everything for me. I went from giving resources to beneficiaries in Burundi who had no choice, to making solutions attractive to consumers who did have a choice, however humble their circumstances. And by doing so I have achieved so much more than I could have done in the public sector alone.

Health and wellbeing is the foundation of social justice – the most rewarding business investment in every sense of the term.  And I know now that through marketing, businesses – brands – are uniquely well-positioned to make consumption conscientious and improve both society as a whole and individual customers.

Do you think the message is getting through?  What are some of the best examples of companies taking a leadership position, in your view?

The message is definitely getting through.  As we are seeing right now with brands like Nike, Walmart, Ben & Jerry’s, Twitter and Google taking a stand on pressing issues such as racism and the accuracy of statements by political leaders, brands are becoming increasingly aware of their impact on society and their potential to make that impact a positive one.  That awareness is all the more clear in the steps many brands, such as Aunt Jemimah and Fair & Lovely are taking to drop racist product names and devote significant amounts of money to raise awareness and facilitate conversations about racism. Brands are recognizing that they no longer have a choice, and that they will be held accountable for their actions.

Unilever as a corporation has set an excellent example by integrating the 1 billion goal into Lifebuoy’s business strategy and actually combining global partnerships for public health.  Other great examples are Danone, which is beginning to identity as a Brand on a Mission, and LIXIL, which developed SATO, short for “Safe Toilet”, which helped vastly improve sanitation conditions  in 25 countries across Africa and Asia, among the poorest of the world’s poor.  LIXIL’s mission is to bring better living solutions to the world for today and the future.

While brands in general are seeing the value of purpose, they have changed and gotten better at this, we still need to hold them accountable.

It seems that Unilever was ahead of its time in recognizing the power of purpose in business success.  Can you talk about your time there?

I spent 15 years at Unilever, where I was provided with an excellent platform for developing initiatives that I could never have undertaken in the public sector. Thanks to this platform I was able to create a movement to change the handwashing behaviours of one billion people, the single biggest hygiene programme in the world.  I also helped  Pepsodent toothpaste improve oral hygiene in Africa and Knorr bouillon cubes fight anemia through encouraging mothers and girls to eat more green leafy vegetables alongside its iron-fortified cubes.

As I mentioned earlier, I was inspired and energized by the fact that Unilever didn’t treat its audiences as beneficiaries, but as consumers, and that however vulnerable these consumers might be, Unilever treats them with respect and dignity. Thanks to all of this  I have achieved so much more than I could have done in the public sector alone. I talk more about this in my book,  Brands on a Mission.  Of course I have my shares of stories of navigating the system as an intrapreneur and as a black woman in dominantly white corporate environment but my purpose which is to inspire and pioneer new ways to address social justice through sustainable business kept me going. And I have not regretted it.

What more can be done to ensure that government and business recognize the need to work together to address global challenges, including of course, COVID-19?

Above all, we need successful examples to follow.  Examples of coalitions between the public and private sectors  which launched Global Handwashing Day, or The National Business Compact for Coronavirus in Kenya, which brings together competing brands in the hygiene business, the Kenya Association of Manufacturers, a number of industry associations and the UN family in Kenya whose mandate is to accelerate local action and support government efforts in countering the pandemic. They also collaborate with Business Fights Poverty and other Business networks alike on global best-practice sharing.

Such examples can serve as a blueprint for others striving to do the same.

You’ve called for a “global marketing campaign” to beat COVID-19.  What do you mean by that and who would be involved?

Yes, we need an industry-wide approach to help support handwashing and other prevention measures.  Kenya’s National Business Compact for Coronavirus is an example.  We must get businesses to work together to distribute hygiene products.  In Kenya, we’ve set up over 4500 public handwashing facilities and ran a national campaign. We’re also supporting governments to help more people to grow their own foods.  When people are hungry, they won’t respect any of these measures such social distancing.  When your choice is die of Covid19 or die of Hunger I suppose the choice is easily made.

How do we address issues of public mistrust in our large institutions, particularly government, business and the media?

The most important factors are time and positive examples. It takes time to build trust, and to come back from the mistrust that disparity and inequality create.  Over time, with enough positive examples as reinforcement, we can build (or rebuild) the public’s trust in institutions.

What do you see as the role of organizations like Business Fights Poverty and the USCIB in the post COVID-19 world?

These organizations must leverage their strong reputations and reach to help companies and businesses create brands that embrace social missions, are more inclusive in both their hiring and their marketing, help educate the public about the issues their business affects and are intentional about their social footprint.  By reinforcing the need to continue in a direction that upholds a world of positive change and inclusiveness, such organizations can make a real difference.  And of course share my book lol.

Your new book is titled “Brands on a Mission: How to achieve social impact and business growth through purpose.” In it you say brands are crucial to addressing social justice, infectious disease, violence, fitness and a range of challenges.  Why are they so powerful?

With their natural incentives to get people to buy their products, brands have an inherent ability to reshape people’s views and habits. They have decades of experience convincing consumers to do just that, and the tools, resources and creative heft to change social norms and influence conversations.  They can spread messages far and wide, among both consumers and their employees.

In today’s world, brands have become tantamount to individuals who hold great power.  With such power and influence, it is simply no longer acceptable for brands to remain silent, especially in these times when consumers are craving positive examples to fill the void left by governments.

After spreading the word about the importance of handwashing for years, COVID-19 has put your work in the spotlight.  How are you responding to all the attention and momentum?

I’m going out there and making things happen. I helped create Kenya’s National Business Compact for Coronavirus, and have been doing a lot of speaking to keep spreading the message and building momentum. This has been catalyzing further response, which in turn is inspiring companies to innovate to respond to social and public health challenges we’re facing, including by supporting handwashing.

How do you stay optimistic in this difficult time?

I look at my three children and think about how the future will look when this difficult period has passed. They give me hope that these times will perhaps open up an opportunity for us to build a better world going forward, since the current crises we’re experiencing are exposing so many inequalities and injustices  we need, collectively, to address and rethink.

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.

Op-Ed: Business Must Come Together to Respond to COVID-19 Now

Op-Ed by Scott C. Ratzan MD, Executive Director of Business Partners for Sustainable Development

Earlier this month, nearly 500 experts in public health, law and human rights wrote an open letter to U.S Vice President Mike Pence to act swiftly, fairly and effectively, warning that “the COVID-19 outbreak is unprecedented in recent American history, and there is no playbook for an epidemiological event of this scope and magnitude.”

Yet, just weeks later, we all are living with unprecedented turmoil from this novel coronavirus, COVID-19.

While the virus was named a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) by the World Health Organization (WHO), this is the seventh time we have had such a proclamation in the last two decades. H1N1 influenza, polio, ebola in West Africa and in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zika, all abated and did not cause as much havoc. Financial markets are on a roller coaster, planes grounded and many of us sheltering in place or in a self-imposed or government-recommended quarantine.

The future of our public health and economy depend on how government officials, policymakers, leaders and our fellow citizens react.

This includes honest, coherent, transparent, and timely communication while providing adequate funding and support for the response. The health care system needs immediate resources for equitable and effective infection control and the means to effectively manage the disease.

As 24/7 news, interactive websites, social media and alerts fill our day, the virus continues to spread. Unfortunately, without a clear treatment or cure, fear and uncertainty results in a rich environment for misinformation and misguided actions.

COVID-19 is a test of our system’s ability to address a legitimate public health threat with an unknown trajectory. Multiple sectors must leverage knowledge, expertise, networks and resources to produce better public health outcomes. Being prepared with a plan and being proactive is the name of the game in prevention, mitigation and management of risk and the adverse consequences of any threat.

Business must play a critical role in planning, implementing and adapting to this crisis due to its wide reach, resources and impact on employees, partners and markets.

Communication from employers on coronavirus is the most credible source of information, according to a recent Edelman ten-country study (March 6-10). This is consistent with a 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer, which showed that “my employer” is the most trusted institution by 18 points over business in general and NGOs, and by 27 points over government and media.

Employers are central in communicating the response. The public needs the assurance that as more is learned, information will be shared accurately and clearly from sources they trust.

This emergent threat challenges our society to cooperate amongst all sectors, including government, media, technology platforms and the private sector.

We know that large scale communication campaigns that employ behavioral economics, health literacy and communication levers (mass and social media) can drive citizens toward healthier decisions. As COVID-19 continues to spread, the business sector’s historical hallmarks of innovation, efficiency and management can help address the challenge we face today.

There are some promising examples:

  • A COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator supported by Mastercard will join with the WHO, government and private sector funders and organizations to speed the response to the COVID-19 epidemic by identifying, assessing, developing and scaling-up treatments.
  • The USCIB is leveraging existing networks to catalyze partnerships to address challenges, such as COVID-19. This includes working with the International Organization of Employers (IOE) and the International Labor Organization (ILO) to distribute WHO guidance on simple and low-cost measures for creating a healthier and more productive workplace.
  • The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and Business at OECD (BIAC) are also working on the design of an action plan to reach millions of businesses with recommendations to help governments deal with the threat to the global economy.
  • The Global NGO Business Fights Poverty is collaborating with Business Partners for Sustainable Development (BPSD) to develop an online “challenge” discussion on how business should tackle the coronavirus challenge.
  • NBCUniversal, Viacom/CBS, iHeartMedia, The Atlantic, Disney/ABC Television and the Ad Council will donate advertising inventory for campaigns that will advise consumers about social distancing, steps that can be taken to protect the public and more.

While the WHO was established to advance “informed opinion and active cooperation on the part of the public” we have now learned that health issues are not confined to one organization or sector.

Only by working together, with the public and private sectors, we can advance a society where our livelihoods are not threatened by similar future outbreaks and create a resilient society capable of responding to any future threat we may face.

Scott C. Ratzan MD is Executive Director of Business Partners for Sustainable Development. He is Former Senior Fellow at Harvard Kennedy School Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government.

COVID-19 Press Releases, News Releases & Op-Ed’s

USCIB Among Private Sector Group Praised by Senator Cassidy on COVID-19 Anti-Fraudulent Goods Campaign in Louisiana

July 16, 2020 – U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy released the below press release applauding USCIB and other private sector associations and companies, such as USCIB member Procter & Gamble, in the group’s advertising campaign against fraudulent personal protective equipment in Louisiana amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA) today applauded a private-sector initiative’s launch in Louisiana to raise awareness of the trade in fraudulent personal protective equipment amid the COVID-19 crisis and spotlight the resources available to combat the trade in these goods.

The advertising campaign, which began on July 13 and will run for two months across the U.S., is led by Philip Morris International (PMI) and supported by other private industry brand integrity leaders and organizations dedicated to fighting illicit trade, including:

  1. U.S. Chamber of Commerce
  2. United States Council for International Business (USCIB)
  3. Transnational Alliance to Combat Illicit Trade (TRACIT)
  4. Merck & Co., Inc.
  5. Procter & Gamble Company
  6. Tommy Hilfiger
  7. Under Armour
  8. SAS
  9. Anti-Counterfeiting and Product Protection Center at Michigan State University
  10. Luna Global Networks

“Criminals are taking advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to flood the U.S. market with fraudulent and counterfeit products and equipment—such as masks, gloves and testing kits—that are inferior and do not offer the same level of efficacy as properly produced items,” said Dr. Cassidy.

Dr. Cassidy added, “Fortunately, the private-sector has taken this issue into their own hands. Congress should look to their example and work in collaboration to fight criminal organizations’ stealing from Americans and jeopardizing our nation’s security and health.”

Dr. Cassidy has long been vocal on issues regarding trade-based money laundering, narcotics trafficking, US-Mexico border security, terrorist finance, and has made efforts to increase the US Treasury’s efforts on combatting money laundering and terrorist finance.

Earlier this year, Cassidy and Durbin introduced the INFORM Consumers Act (Integrity, Notification and Fairness in Online Retail Marketplaces Act) to fight the sale of stolen, counterfeit, price-gauged and dangerous products by requiring extensive transparence of large-volume, third-party online sellers. The bill requires high-volume third-party sellers to disclose the seller’s name, business address, email address, phone number and whether the seller is a manufacturer, importer, retailer or a reseller of consumer products.

In December, Cassidy and U.S. Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Bob Menendez (D-NJ) introduced the SANTA Act (Stop All Nefarious Toys in America Act) to protect Americans from unknowingly buying counterfeit and illicit goods. The bill requires that online marketplaces clearly display product origins and business names and contact information. New information required under the SANTA Act include:

  1. Full name, full business address, whether the seller is the manufacturer, importer, retailer or reseller of the children’s product and contact information for the seller, including working phone number and working email.
  2. Online marketplaces should also notify parents if the product is fulfilled or shipped from a seller or warehouse that is different from the original seller.
  3. Online marketplaces should verify seller information prior to listing through government issued ID, bank accounts, individual and business contact information. This should exclude sellers of used children’s products and resellers of children’s products.

In November, Cassidy co-sponsored the CITTPA Act (Combating the Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products Act) o disrupt criminal and terrorist organizations that use the illegal tobacco trade to fund their activities. The bill authorizes the executive branch to deny development and security assistance to countries that knowingly profit from the trade and to implement sanctions on the individuals responsible.


USCIB Calls for International Financial Support for At-Risk Businesses and Workers in Developing Countries Impacted by COVID-19

April 23, 2020 – As the continuing health consequences of the devastating COVID-19 pandemic are being felt across the globe, no country has been spared, but the impacts are particularly acute in vulnerable middle- and lower-income countries.

The scale and scope of the COVID-19 pandemic requires that all stakeholders come together to develop broad-based approaches to this pandemic crisis. Critically, without immediate support from international development finance institutions, the ability of vulnerable countries to reopen and resume economic activity once the pandemic is contained and addressed, will be severely compromised.

As part of the international response to address the health, economic and social crisis from this pandemic, the G-20 countries, including the G-20 Finance Ministers, have coordinated closely with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank Group and regional development banks, to mobilize resources to address urgent needs.

We call upon the G-20 and leadership of the international financial institutions to support those countries requiring assistance for the health care assets to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

Additionally, we urge these countries and institutions to allocate necessary resources for:

  1. sufficient funds for governments to offer credit facilities to maintain and avoid the liquidation of businesses in export sectors vital to the economies of these vulnerable countries,
  2. funding to governments to support functioning social protection programs, including income to meet the basic needs of their work force so that they can be supported while they wait to resume their jobs once businesses can be reopened, and
  3. technical and financial support necessary for the export and other economic sectors in these countries so that workplaces can resume operation safely taking into account strategies to mitigate COVID-19 risk.

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USCIB is among twenty-eight associations from around the world to call for uniform guidance for essential tech workers during COVID-19 Pandemic. Read below for the news release from ITI on April 3.

Momentum Builds as 28 Associations From Around the World Join Call for Uniform Guidance for Essential Tech Workers During COVID-19 Pandemic

WASHINGTON – Today, 28 trade associations from around the world joined ITI’s call for governments at all levels worldwide to adopt clear and uniform guidance regarding essential information and communications technology (ICT) workers for the purpose of aiding governments around the globe working to protect public health and safety during the pandemic. The call comes as more jurisdictions issue orders restricting individuals’ freedom of movement in reaction to COVID-19.

Organizations joining ITI in the call include:

ACT | The App Association; Alliance Française des Industries du Numérique (AFNUM); Asia Internet Coalition (AIC); Australian Services Roundtable (ASR); Brazilian Association of Information Technology and Communication (Brasscom); Brazilian Association of Software Companies (ABES); BSA | The Software Alliance; Cámara de Informática y Comunicaciones de la República Argentina (CICOMRA); Canadian Chamber of Commerce; Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI); Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA); Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA); Cybersecurity Coalition; European Data Center Association (EUDCA); Fiber Broadband Association; Fiber Optic Sensing Association (FOSA); Japan Business Machine and Information System Industries Association (JBMIA); Japan Electronics and Information Technology Industry Association (JEITA); NASSCOM; Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA); Software and Information Industry Association (SIIA); TECHNATION; TechNet; techUK; Telecommunication Industry Association (TIA); United States-ASEAN Business Council (USABC); United States Council for International Business (USCIB); and USTelecom.

“As governments appropriately restrict movement to stop the spread of COVID-19, technology products and services are crucial to our ability to work, learn, and communicate from home. We must ensure that critical technology service workers can build, maintain and run these technology tools,” said Jason Oxman, ITI’s President and CEO. “We’re encouraged that dozens of our global industry partners are joining our call to government leaders to adopt clear guidance ensuring ICT workers can perform their critical jobs to facilitate quarantines and keep communities safe, secure and connected.”

Workers across the ICT sector are critical to the delivery of digital services and related infrastructure in support of the public health response. Specifically, these workers are aiding health care systems and providers; allowing employees and businesses to operate remotely; securing and servicing networks, data centers and cloud services; enabling e-commerce and the delivery of food, medicine, and other necessities; keeping students engaged and learning; manufacturing technology products and components from microprocessors to supercomputers; and otherwise enabling governments to respond to this global health crisis.

Inconsistent guidance from different jurisdictions who implement lockdowns, shelter-in-place orders or other restrictions on personal movement could jeopardize the ability for ICT workers to provide the products and services that people need during this challenging time. Uniform adoption would avoid a patchwork of confusing emergency orders and site closures that could disrupt critical supply chains and industries and avoid additional bureaucratic procedures that may be problematic for businesses. Importantly, government officials and policymakers must also effectively promote and communicate the guidance regarding essential workers to state and local authorities responsible for enforcing such orders to avoid inconsistent enforcement.

ITI recently sent letters to officials in India and Brazil and delivered comments to Malaysia on this issue and will continue to reach out to other countries affected by the pandemic.

Read ITI’s statement to governments here.


TRACIT Issues Warning on Fake, Falsified and Substandard Healthcare Products and Medicines

Online fraudsters exploit COVID-19 fears

New York, 2 April 2020 – The Transnational Alliance to Combat Illicit Trade (TRACIT) issued a statement today, warning consumers about the risks and growing availability of fake, falsified and substandard medical and healthcare products and medicines. The organization, known for mitigating illicit trade across industry sectors worldwide, reports a surge in ineffective, fraudulent products that undermine public health and efforts to stem the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Emergency response measures to protect people from the COVID-19 virus must include the urgent need to protect them from fake, falsified and substandard medical products and medicines,” said TRACIT Director-General Jeffrey Hardy. “Someone wearing a falsified or substandard surgical face mask is not only at risk of exposure, but it creates a false sense of security that can actually accelerate the spread to others.”

Worldwide reports indicate a surge in the availability and type of fraudulent medical products intended to exploit the fears of consumers, which includes illicit offerings of falsified versions of treatments such as Hydroxychloroquine and Azithromycin that will harm or kill already vulnerable patients. Joint operations by the World Customs Organization, Europol and Interpol have resulted in a significant increase in seizures of counterfeit and unauthorized face masks and hand sanitizers.

“Expectations are that the availability of fakes and fraudulent products on the Internet will increase dramatically, especially with the closure of retail stores and the imposition of population distancing strategies,” said Mr. Hardy. “People must be especially careful with their social media, where outright fraud and advertising of fakes is already a major problem.”

In its statement, TRACIT’s product warning list includes fake, falsified and substandard medical products such as surgical masks, hydro-alcoholic gels, testing kits and thermometers. Also listed for increased vigilance are high demand healthcare and consumer products prone to counterfeiting, including cleaning solutions, toilet paper, anti-bacterial wipes, indoor sports equipment, refrigeration appliances, food products and reading materials.

TRACIT called for immediate action by governments, law enforcement, Internet platforms and brand owners:

  • Governments to prioritize the response to fraud among COVID-19 emergency measures, allocate resources to blocking distribution of fakes, warn consumers about the risks of fake and fraudulent products, especially online sales, and impose immediate sanctions on the manufacture and sale of fraudulent COVID-19 related products.
  • Law enforcement to clamp down on violators, increase vigilance for stolen, tampered and expired medical products and medicines, and establish a coordinated national strategy to share intelligence, best practices and cooperate on cross-border investigations.
  • Internet eCommerce platforms to amplify policing and takedown of online sales of counterfeit and fraudulent COVID-19 related products.
  • Brand owners to increase security of supply chains for genuine COVID-19 related medical products and medicines, share data with law enforcement where supply chains have been compromised and raise awareness about online shopping fraud.

In the longer run, TRACIT expressed concern that the COVID-19 Pandemic underscores the urgent need for a strong international policy framework to combat the illicit trade of fake, falsified and substandard medical products and medicines.

“Once we get past this crisis, we’ll need to double our efforts to prevent counterfeiting and falsification of medical products and medicines,” said Mr. Hardy. “This must start with stronger provisions for preventing the availability of illicit products online and stronger measures to keep illicit pharmaceuticals out of the physical supply chain, including postal and express carrier infrastructures.”

Collaboration

This effort was produced in collaboration with Elipe Global a leader in strategic government relations, corporate affairs and communications services (https://www.elipe-global.com/index.html), the US Council for International Business (USCIB) (https://www.uscib.org/anti-illicit-trade/), and the UK Anti-Counterfeiting Group (https://www.a-cg.org/).

About TRACIT

​The Transnational Alliance to Combat Illicit Trade (TRACIT) is an independent, private sector initiative to mitigate the economic and social damages of illicit trade by strengthening government enforcement mechanisms and mobilizing businesses across industry sectors most impacted by illicit trade.

Contact:

Cindy Braddon, Head of Communications and Public Policy, TRACIT

Tel: +1 571-365-6885 / cindy.braddon@TRACIT.org / http://www.tracit.org/ Twitter: @TRACIT_org


Business Must Come Together to Respond to COVID-19 Now

Op-Ed by Scott C. Ratzan MD, Executive Director of Business Partners for Sustainable Development

Earlier this month, nearly 500 experts in public health, law and human rights wrote an open letter to U.S Vice President Mike Pence to act swiftly, fairly and effectively, warning that “the COVID-19 outbreak is unprecedented in recent American history, and there is no playbook for an epidemiological event of this scope and magnitude.”

Yet, just weeks later, we all are living with unprecedented turmoil from this novel coronavirus, COVID-19.

While the virus was named a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) by the World Health Organization (WHO), this is the seventh time we have had such a proclamation in the last two decades. H1N1 influenza, polio, ebola in West Africa and in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zika, all abated and did not cause as much havoc. Financial markets are on a roller coaster, planes grounded and many of us sheltering in place or in a self-imposed or government-recommended quarantine.

The future of our public health and economy depend on how government officials, policymakers, leaders and our fellow citizens react.

This includes honest, coherent, transparent, and timely communication while providing adequate funding and support for the response. The health care system needs immediate resources for equitable and effective infection control and the means to effectively manage the disease.

As 24/7 news, interactive websites, social media and alerts fill our day, the virus continues to spread. Unfortunately, without a clear treatment or cure, fear and uncertainty results in a rich environment for misinformation and misguided actions.

COVID-19 is a test of our system’s ability to address a legitimate public health threat with an unknown trajectory. Multiple sectors must leverage knowledge, expertise, networks and resources to produce better public health outcomes. Being prepared with a plan and being proactive is the name of the game in prevention, mitigation and management of risk and the adverse consequences of any threat.

Business must play a critical role in planning, implementing and adapting to this crisis due to its wide reach, resources and impact on employees, partners and markets.

Communication from employers on coronavirus is the most credible source of information, according to a recent Edelman ten-country study (March 6-10). This is consistent with a 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer, which showed that “my employer” is the most trusted institution by 18 points over business in general and NGOs, and by 27 points over government and media.

Employers are central in communicating the response. The public needs the assurance that as more is learned, information will be shared accurately and clearly from sources they trust.

This emergent threat challenges our society to cooperate amongst all sectors, including government, media, technology platforms and the private sector.

We know that large scale communication campaigns that employ behavioral economics, health literacy and communication levers (mass and social media) can drive citizens toward healthier decisions. As COVID-19 continues to spread, the business sector’s historical hallmarks of innovation, efficiency and management can help address the challenge we face today.

There are some promising examples:

  • A COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator supported by Mastercard will join with the WHO, government and private sector funders and organizations to speed the response to the COVID-19 epidemic by identifying, assessing, developing and scaling-up treatments.
  • The USCIB is leveraging existing networks to catalyze partnerships to address challenges, such as COVID-19. This includes working with the International Organization of Employers (IOE) and the International Labor Organization (ILO) to distribute WHO guidance on simple and low-cost measures for creating a healthier and more productive workplace.
  • The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and Business at OECD (BIAC) are also working on the design of an action plan to reach millions of businesses with recommendations to help governments deal with the threat to the global economy.
  • The Global NGO Business Fights Poverty is collaborating with Business Partners for Sustainable Development (BPSD) to develop an online “challenge” discussion on how business should tackle the coronavirus challenge.
  • NBCUniversal, Viacom/CBS, iHeartMedia, The Atlantic, Disney/ABC Television and the Ad Council will donate advertising inventory for campaigns that will advise consumers about social distancing, steps that can be taken to protect the public and more.

While the WHO was established to advance “informed opinion and active cooperation on the part of the public” we have now learned that health issues are not confined to one organization or sector.

Only by working together, with the public and private sectors, we can advance a society where our livelihoods are not threatened by similar future outbreaks and create a resilient society capable of responding to any future threat we may face.

Scott C. Ratzan MD is Executive Director of Business Partners for Sustainable Development. He is Former Senior Fellow at Harvard Kennedy School Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government.


USCIB Calls for a Moonshot Mindset in the Business and Government Response to COVID-19 Virus

March 12, 2020, New York, New York — The U.S. Council for International Business (USCIB) and Business Partners for Sustainable Development (BPSD) today called for a cooperative, unified, business and government response to the global threat that is the COVID-19 Virus, on par with the challenges of the Space Race of the last century.

With a membership base of American companies operating globally and a longstanding role in representing business before the United Nations, and as the American affiliate of the leading international business organizations, USCIB and its partner organizations offer an extensive network to coordinate the private sector in its response to COVID-19.

“Grand challenges like COVID-19 require “moonshot thinking”, where governments around the world develop transformative and inclusive programs in consultation with the business community in a collaborative effort to stem the spread of the virus,” said USCIB President and CEO Peter M. Robinson. “Our networks can play a vital role in rapidly bringing together the considerable resources of the global business community.  History tells us that in times of crisis, business and government, working together, have the capacity to develop collaborative, innovative solutions that are not possible without such cooperation.”

Effective immediately, USCIB has taken steps to limit the spread of the virus by asking employees in New York and Washington, D.C. to work remotely until further notice. USCIB is utilizing teleconferencing tools to hold meetings virtually and limiting domestic and international travel in an effort to protect team members.

USCIB is working closely with public health expert Dr. Scott Ratzan, editor-in-chief of the Journal of Health Communications: International Perspectives, and executive director of Business Partners for Sustainable Development.

BPSD is an international public-private partnership in support of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It provides a framework for government, 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.

“By working with the extensive networks of USCIB and its affiliated organizations, government can more rapidly mobilize the resources of the private sector and communicate in a more effective and timely manner,” said Dr. Ratzan. “This coordinated, multi-lateral response is essential to effectively responding to COVID-19.”

Recent initiatives of USCIB and its international affiliates that demonstrate how business and government can work together to develop response plans for COVID-19 include:

  • The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) is working with the World Health Organization (WHO) on the design of an action plan to reach millions of businesses which are seeking support and guidance to ensure business continuity. ICC is taking an inventory of all tools and instruments that will be essential for businesses in facing the current exceptional circumstances.
  • The International Organization of Employers (IOE) is working with the International Labor Organization (ILO) to distribute WHO guidance on simple and low-cost measures that can help prevent the spread of the disease while creating a healthier and more productive workplace.
  • Business at OECD (BIAC) is working with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) on recommendations to help governments deal with the threat to the global economy posed by the coronavirus crisis.
  • USCIB and Business Partners for Sustainable Development (a partnership initiative of The USCIB Foundation), is working with Business Fights Poverty to develop an online “challenge” discussion on how business should tackle the coronavirus challenge.

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 (IOE), 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

USCIB Calls for a Moonshot Mindset in the Business and Government Response to COVID-19 Virus

March 12, 2020, New York, New York — The U.S. Council for International Business (USCIB) and Business Partners for Sustainable Development today called for a cooperative, unified, business and government response to the global threat that is the COVID-19 Virus, on par with the challenges of the Space Race of the last century.

With a membership base of American companies operating globally and a longstanding role in representing business before the United Nations, and as the American affiliate of the leading international business organizations, USCIB and its partner organizations offer an extensive network to coordinate the private sector in its response to COVID-19.

“Grand challenges like COVID-19 require “moonshot thinking”, where governments around the world develop transformative and inclusive programs in consultation with the business community in a collaborative effort to stem the spread of the virus,” said USCIB President and CEO Peter M. Robinson. “Our networks can play a vital role in rapidly bringing together the considerable resources of the global business community.  History tells us that in times of crisis, business and government, working together, have the capacity to develop collaborative, innovative solutions that are not possible without such cooperation.”

Effective immediately, USCIB has taken steps to limit the spread of the virus by asking employees in New York and Washington, D.C. to work remotely until further notice. USCIB is utilizing teleconferencing tools to hold meetings virtually and limiting domestic and international travel in an effort to protect team members.

USCIB is working closely with public health expert Dr. Scott Ratzan, editor-in-chief of the Journal of Health Communications: International Perspectives, and executive director of Business Partners for Sustainable Development.

BPSD is an international public-private partnership in support of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It provides a framework for government, 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.

“By working with the extensive networks of USCIB and its affiliated organizations, government can more rapidly mobilize the resources of the private sector and communicate in a more effective and timely manner,” said Dr. Ratzan. “This coordinated, multi-lateral response is essential to effectively responding to COVID-19.”

Recent initiatives of USCIB and its international affiliates that demonstrate how business and government can work together to develop response plans for COVID-19 include:

  • The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) is working with the World Health Organization (WHO) on the design of an action plan to reach millions of businesses which are seeking support and guidance to ensure business continuity. ICC is taking an inventory of all tools and instruments that will be essential for businesses in facing the current exceptional circumstances.
  • The International Organization of Employers (IOE) is working with the International Labor Organization (ILO) to distribute WHO guidance on simple and low-cost measures that can help prevent the spread of the disease while creating a healthier and more productive workplace.
  • Business at OECD (BIAC) is working with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) on recommendations to help governments deal with the threat to the global economy posed by the coronavirus crisis.
  • USCIB and Business Partners for Sustainable Development (a partnership initiative of The USCIB Foundation), is working with Business Fights Poverty to develop an online “challenge” discussion on how business should tackle the coronavirus challenge.

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 (IOE), 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

ICC UK’s Chris Southworth Discusses Brexit Burdens in FT Letter

On February 8, the Financial Times published a timely letter from Chris Southworth, the secretary general of the International Chamber of Commerce ‘s UK national committee, on the adverse impact a “hard Brexit” could have on smaller British traders.

According to Southworth, all the excellent work to ensure port operations remain efficient post Brexit should not distract from the fact that the burden, risk and cost of new trading arrangements will be shifted upstream to companies who will have to do all the additional paperwork before their goods reach the port.

“We need the government to be a lot more honest with business. Leaving the single market will mean hard borders and new burdens,” he wrote in the letter.

To read the full letter, visit FT’s website (paid subscription required). Click here to visit ICC UK’s website.

In Op-ed, Robinson Stresses Business’s Critical Role in WTO Modernization

With members of the World Trade Organization set to launch new talks on digital trade amid calls for the organization to be reformed, USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson has appealed for a strong business role in efforts to modernize the global trade body.

In an op-ed published in The Hill, USCIB’s president wrote: “The views of the private sector, which has a direct stake in the rules that result from such government-to-government discussions, should be actively solicited and given careful consideration by WTO member states.”

Robinson called on governments to strengthen the WTO in four key areas:

  • tackle subsidies and the role of state-owned enterprises
  • develop new rules for cutting-edge trade issues
  • modernize the WTO’s rules and procedures, and
  • improve the WTO’s dispute settlement mechanisms

“If governments work with business, we are confident that the WTO can be reformed and modernized to continue effectively advancing a rules-based global trading system,” Robinson wrote. Read the full op-ed on The Hill’s website.

Hampl Gives Testimony on US-UK Trade Agreement

Eva Hampl provided testimony before the Trade Policy Staff Committee, chaired by USTR, on January 29.
USCIB supports negotiation of a comprehensive trade agreement with the UK as part of a broader strategy to open international markets for U.S. companies and remove barriers and unfair trade practices in support of U.S. jobs.

 

Following USCIB’s submission on January 16 to USTR regarding negotiating objectives for a U.S.-UK Trade Agreement, USCIB Senior Director for Investment, Trade and Financial Services Eva Hampl provided testimony before the Trade Policy Staff Committee, chaired by USTR, on January 29.

“USCIB supports negotiation of a comprehensive trade agreement with the UK as part of a broader strategy to open international markets for U.S. companies and remove barriers and unfair trade practices in support of U.S. jobs,” said Hampl in her testimony. “We strongly believe that continued U.S.-UK free trade is overwhelmingly in the interests of both countries and their global trading partners, provided that the agreement is a high standard and comprehensive bilateral trade and investment agreement. A successful trade agreement with the UK should cover not just market access for goods, but also address important services issues.”

Hampl’s testimony also emphasized the importance of regulatory cohesion across the United States, the UK and the European market as a key component in further liberalizing trade. Regulatory discrimination and differentiation between trade partners can be an obstacle to trade, investment and the ability to conduct business. Affected sectors include pharmaceuticals, chemicals and fintech.

Hampl also raised the issue of digital trade. “U.S. companies rely on cross-border data flows as part of their day-to-day operations,” said Hampl. “A U.S.-UK agreement should include requirements that data can flow unimpeded across borders except for limited and well-defined public policy exceptions, ensuring that they are not used as disguised barriers to trade.”

Regarding intellectual property (IP) protection, Hampl noted that at a minimum, a U.S.-UK agreement should enshrine existing protections and enforcement mechanisms. It should also address sectoral IP issues, such as in the pharmaceutical space.

To read Hampl’s testimony, please click here.

USCIB in the News: Taxes, Trade and Tariffs

USCIB’s voice and views were reflected in many of the top stories of the past several months, which saw a heavy focus on taxes, trade and tariffs. USCIB and its global network were featured prominently in numerous stories covering NAFTA modernization, China tariffs and the OECD’s work on global tax policy.

In October, USCIB CEO and President Peter Robinson contributed a letter to the Financial Times in response to an editorial urging action on the digital divide. In his letter, Robinson noted that “public-private partnerships are indeed needed to broaden access to the internet, and companies are already moving ahead in this regard, in addition to taking action on their own.”

In discussing G20 trade tensions, USCIB Senior Vice President Rob Mulligan sat down with BBC World News to do a live television interview. Mulligan said that Trump is right to address the balance of trade between the U.S. and China, but that tariffs aren’t the answer and will ultimately cause higher prices and job losses.

To read more of USCIB activity in the media, please visit this link.

USCIB’s Donnelly Talks Sri Lanka With Washington Times

Shaun Donnelly

USCIB Vice President for Investment and Financial Services Shaun Donnelly took a break from his usual USCIB policy portfolio that includes NAFTA/USMCA, the WTO and Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) to be interviewed by The Washington Times Foreign Editor David Sands on November 8 on one chapter in his previous life as an American diplomat, serving as U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka twenty years ago.

With Sri Lanka back in the news (again) going through a period of political turmoil, the Times was seeking basic background on the current political situation.

Donnelly was happy to oblige, noting: “I don’t really work on Sri Lanka these days but have tried to stay in touch with major developments and some of the players. Like most countries around the world, Sri Lanka has a unique political situation which is sometimes hard to explain to Americans or others  – and sometimes even hard to explain to Sri Lankans! Situated literally “on the other side of the earth” twelve hours away from the East Coast, Sri Lanka’s impact on Americans will always be limited and fleeting. But the regional implications (India vs. China) and the precedent of what is arguably South Asia’s most enduring (if flawed) democracy may be worth a little attention.  In the five days since we did the interview, the situation in Sri Lanka has further intensified with the two dueling Prime Ministers remaining in a standoff  and the President has dissolved the parliament which would, in normal circumstances, resolve the political standoff.  The whole mess seems headed toward the Sri Lanka Supreme Court which could, I’m afraid, open up another can of works. I’m increasingly worried where this crisis might be headed.”

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