USCIB Joins COVID-19 Global Workplace Challenge

In advance of World Immunization Week later this month, USCIB has announced on April 6 that it has taken the “COVID-19 Global Workplace Challenge”—a commitment by companies to listen to employees’ needs and concerns about COVID-19 and encourage vaccine confidence and uptake.

The “Workplace Challenge” was launched this spring by Business Partners to CONVINCE, a multi-sector effort to empower a “vaccine-literate” public, based on trust in science and aligned commitment to future COVID-19 vaccines and other novel countermeasures.

“Business can play a pivotal role in addressing vaccine hesitancy with its extensive reach and the high level of trust imbued in employers by their employees,” said USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson. “I encourage other companies and organizations around the globe to join the Workplace Challenge and, by doing so, showcase their commitment to make their workplaces safer and provide up-to-date information from health professionals to follow the science.

By joining the Workplace Challenge, USCIB agrees to:

  • Listen to employees’ needs and concerns about the impact and prevention of COVID-19
  • Follow the latest public health guidance to protect myself, my employees, my workplace, my customers, and my community from COVID-19
  • Promote vaccine literacy based on the latest scientific evidence of vaccination benefits and risks
  • Encourage vaccine confidence and uptake
  • Advocate for accessible, equitable, and timely vaccination of employees
  • Engage with communities, schools, faith-based organizations and public health leaders to stop the spread of COVID-19

For more information on Business Partners to CONVINCE or to join the Workplace Challenge, please visit: www.businesspartners2convince.org.

USCIB Welcomes Appointment of Mathias Cormann as New Head of OECD

Mathias Cormann speaks during a Senate inquiry at Parliament House in Canberra, October 20, 2020. (AAP Image/Lukas Coch)

New York, N.Y., March 15, 2021—The United States Council for International Business (USCIB), which represents many of the world’s leading companies and which serves as the U.S. Member Organization of Business at OECD (BIAC), welcomed the announcement of Mathias Cormann, a former Australian finance minister, as the candidate to be appointed the next OECD Secretary General.

Phil O’Reilly, chair of Business at OECD, noted that the OECD’s ability to bring solutions to global challenges relies on its effective consultation with the private sector. “Our input has been critical to the success and implementation of major OECD initiatives,” O’Reilly stated. “Our strengthened collaboration will be essential to further increase the OECD’s policy impact in the coming years.”

“Multilateralism matters now, more than ever, and all of us at USCIB look forward to a productive partnership and a collaborative relationship with the new OECD Secretary General,” said USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson. “USCIB and our members rely on BIAC’s work with the OECD to achieve the right policy responses and guidance. This cooperation will be critical as we all work together towards economic and social recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Cormann will succeed Ángel Gurría following his 15-year tenure with the Organization. “We thank Mr. Gurría for his strong leadership and look forward to hitting the ground running with Mr. Cormann to show that multilateralism delivers clear benefits for business and societies,” stated Hanni Rosenbaum, executive director of Business at OECDRick Johnston, Managing Director, International Government Affairs at Citibank, and a vice chair of Business at OECD, joined Robinson in expressing deep appreciation to Secretary-General Gurria for a long and cooperative relationship over his tenure at OECD.

Cormann will assume the role of Secretary General on June 1, 2021 and, upon assuming his post, will be the first person from the Asia-Pacific region to lead the OECD.

In Statement on International Women’s Day, USCIB Recognizes Setbacks Women Face Due to COVID-19

New York, N.Y., March 08, 2021 — On this year’s International Women’s Day, USCIB joins the global community in recognizing the critical contributions of women in responding to, and recovering from, the COVID-19 pandemic — often at the cost of hard-fought gains in equality and economic empowerment. Our task going forward is to ensure that these gains are recovered and that progress continues.

USCIB and its members have long championed the critical role of women’s education, employment and entrepreneurship for their own and their families’ health and well-being, as well as for the health and competitiveness of the societies and economies in which we live and do business. The United Nations report on “The Impact of COVID-19 on Women ” highlights the disproportionate impact that the pandemic has had on women and girls and rightly stresses that we must keep this disparity in mind, as well as be purposeful in championing women as we undertake the task of rebuilding our economies. This shared task confronts governments, business and civil society alike.

Through our engagement in the International Organization of Employers (IOE) and Business at OECD (BIAC), we will continue to work with our business counterparts around the world to address the barriers that continue to confront women and girls and to advance the opportunities that will allow them to thrive and our enterprises to prosper.

Please visit the UN Women’s page for International Women’s Day 2021 “Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world” for statements, stories and updates.

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, the International Organization of Employers 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.

Robinson Welcomes COVID-19 Vaccine Collaboration Between Merck, Johnson & Johnson

New York, N.Y., March 03, 2021Peter Robinson, president and chief executive of the United States Council for International Business (USCIB), which represents many of America’s leading global companies, released a statement today in reaction to President Joe Biden’s announcement on March 2 that Merck will help make Johnson & Johnson’s single-shot COVID-19 vaccine:

“We at USCIB commend our member companies J&J and Merck for collaborating in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. The partnership between these two companies and the commitment of their CEOs, both of which are USCIB Trustees, brings us a great amount of pride and excitement. Over the years, our motto at USCIB has been ‘Global Business Leadership At Work’ and we are pleased that our member companies have been demonstrating that and leading by example.

“The USCIB Foundation meanwhile is also building momentum on our most recent initiative – Business Partners to CONVINCE – a global, multi-sector effort to empower a ‘vaccine-literate’ public, led by employers as trusted messengers to their employees and based on trust in science and aligned commitment to future COVID-19 vaccines and other novel countermeasures.”

USCIB Informs EU With Comments on Sustainable Corporate Governance

As part of the European Green Deal and the European Commission’s (EU) Communication on the (COVID-19) Recovery Plan, the EU has invited stakeholder comments during a public consultation to inform consideration of a possible EU Sustainable Corporate Governance Initiative. USCIB has submitted its comments on February 9, drawing on the expertise of its Committees on Corporate Responsibility and Labor Affairs and Environment.

According to USCIB Senior Vice President for Policy and Global Strategy, Norine Kennedy, the consultation took the form of an online questionnaire, seeking feedback on numerous elements of ESG, and exploring what form an EU-wide framework to promote due diligence, board of directors’ duty of care and stakeholder engagement should take. 

USCIB comments highlighted the fundamental importance of the UN Guiding Principles.  USCIB set out U.S. business concerns about any promulgation of rigid approaches, such as the application of tariffs, sanctions or import restrictions that rightly seek to address human rights or labor rights concerns but – due to their rigidity – inadvertently create a disincentive for long-term supply chain engagement, the use in accordance with the UNGPs of leverage in company supply and value chains, and sustainable remediation.  

“We would welcome an EU approach to these issues that would include sustainability risks, impacts and opportunities into corporate strategy and decisions, as many companies already have,” added Kennedy. “However general principles would be preferable over rigid legal requirements. Flexibility afforded to each company to decide how to include such considerations would be crucial for such general principles to be effective.”

USCIB also encouraged the EU to pursue a fuller holistic dialogue with business and other stakeholders on how to advance sustainable corporate governance in environmental and social areas.

“We support the role business can and should play in respecting human rights” said USCIB Vice President for Corporate Responsibility and Labor Affairs Gabriella Rigg Herzog.  “We strongly encourage the EU to gather business and other stakeholder views through actual dialogue and consultation, with due attention to context, such as ongoing impacts and burdens on companies because of the pandemic’s economic disruption and ongoing constraints, as well as existing business initiatives and systems.”

USCIB will continue to follow and stay in close contact with U.S. government and EU authorities as these deliberations go forward.

The USCIB Foundation’s Business Partners to CONVINCE Launch COVID-19 Challenge

In a recent press release, The USCIB Foundation, the education and research arm of USCIB, announced that its Business Partners to CONVINCE (BP2C) initiative has launched a ‘Global COVID-19 Workplace Challenge,’ inviting companies and organizations around the world to listen to employees’ needs and concerns about the impact and prevention of COVID-19 and encourage vaccine confidence and uptake, among other things.

TheBP2C initiative is the private sector arm of the global, multi-sector CONVINCE (COVID-19 New Vaccine Information, Communication, and Engagement)initiative that advances vaccine literacy and promotes vaccine acceptance.

Members of the BP2C Steering Team, which includes global organizations such as Business Fights Poverty, Business at OECD, the International Chamber of Commerce, and the International Organization of Employers, jointly agreed to develop vaccine literacy strategies based on science, facts and emerging information to counter hesitation and vaccination opponents through communication and education initiatives at the global, national and local levels.

Companies joining the Global COVID-19 Workplace Challenge agree to do the following:

  • Listen to employees’ needs and concerns about the impact and prevention of COVID-19
  • Follow the latest public health guidance to protect myself, my employees, my workplace, my customers, and my community from COVID-19
  • Promote vaccine literacy based on the latest scientific evidence of vaccination benefits and risks
  • Encourage vaccine confidence and uptake
  • Advocate for accessible, equitable, and timely vaccination of employees
  • Engage with communities, schools, faith-based organizations and public health leaders to stop the spread of COVID-19

“BP2C is developing a ‘toolkit’ of activities to help businesses address the COVID-19 Challenge,” said USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson. “Research has shown that businesses are a trusted source of information, and are well suited to engage, inform and educate workers, their families and communities with messages that inspire confidence in vaccination and encourage acceptance of COVID-19 vaccines.”

Scott Ratzan MD, executive director of BP2C and co-founder of CONVINCE, stated: “The potential for business to engage meaningfully in the growing international movement to address COVID with evidence-based vaccine literacy strategies is massive. Employers have the trust, respect and reach to support vaccine confidence with communication and education initiatives at the global, national and local levels.”

BP2C Steering Committee member Professor Heidi Larson, director of the Vaccine Confidence Project and co-founder of CONVINCE added that: “The COVID-19 pandemic challenges all of us to engage in meaningful ways. We urge businesses of all sizes and in all industries – from multinational corporations to small- and medium-sized national and local enterprises to sign up to the COVID-19 Workplace Challenge and help expedite our return to a pandemic-free society.”

To read the full press release, click here.

Global Business Statement on Safeguarding International Data Flows

USCIB joined dozens of global associations in a letter to the EU expressing concern to ongoing developments in the European Union on international data flows. The letter notes that international data flows are an integral pillar of global trade, and any disruption to their free flow constitutes a major challenge to every economic sector.

“The recent developments in the European Union are creating deep uncertainty throughout the world, as the wide geographic variety of co-signatories to this statement demonstrates,” emphasized USCIB Vice President for ICT Policy Barbara Wanner.

In addition, the repercussions of an unduly restrictive approach to data flows, the letter notes it will also hit hard more traditional European industries, as the recent BusinessEurope-led coalition statement underlines.

“We underline the importance of providing certainty for all businesses and their data transfers to third countries,” the letter notes. “Any disruption must be avoided in order to minimise negative economic consequences, particularly in the wake of the global COVID-19 crisis and the economic recovery phase that we will enter in 2021. Crucially, our organizations believe that this can be achieved while respecting European data protection law, if a pragmatic and flexible approach prevails.”

The USCIB Foundation’s COVID-19 Vaccine Initiative Lead Scott Ratzan on MSNBC

Dr. Scott Ratzan, who helps lead The USCIB Foundation’s Business Partners to CONVINCE  initiative, spoke on MSNBC on January 3, 2021 on the importance of the COVID-19 vaccine and the critical role of all sectors, including business, to engage in order to win “the war” against the coronavirus.

Business Partners to CONVINCE is a vaccine confidence initiative led by USCIB, The USCIB Foundation, and Business Partners for Sustainable Development.

USCIB Leads Business Dialogue on Climate Change and Trade, Investment and Recovery

The Major Economies Business Forum (BizMEF) held its annual Business Dialogue on December 7, en route to next year’s Glasgow Climate Summit; this year’s BizMEF event was held virtually following the postponement of COP26 in Scotland.  The event, Restoring Momentum, Advancing Synergies – Building Recovery into COP26 with the Private Sector, set the scene for a series of in-depth dialogues in 2021 on trade and climate, climate investment and finance for innovation and national climate pledges that reflect COVID19 impacts and recovery opportunities.

The BizMEF Business Dialogue marked the fifth anniversary of the Paris Agreement and welcomed over seventy participants from government, academia and business.  Opening the session were USCIB CEO and President Peter Robinson and the Chief Strategist for Minority, Policy and Communications of the Climate Select Committee from the U.S. House of Representatives George David Banks.  In his remarks, Banks cautioned against unilateralism and stressed that multilateralism, commercial strategies and leveraging domestic policies will go a long way in realizing the goals of the Paris Agreement.

The dialogue discussed free trade and climate change, including the European Union’s Carbon Border Adjustment mechanism proposal, the impacts and considerations of the COVID-19 pandemic on economic disruption and development of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), as well as climate change finance and investment.

High-level government speakers at the December 7 dialogue included Ignacio Garcia Bercero, from the European Commission Directorate General for Trade, Motoko Ogawa, deputy director of Japan’s Environmental Economy Office and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) and Switzerland’s lead negotiator for climate finance, Gabriella Blatter.

USCIB is a founding member of BizMEF, an alliance of more than twenty leading multisectoral business groups from OECD and non-OECD countries, including BusinessEurope, Brazil (CNI), France (MEDEF), Japan (Keidanren), CGEM (Morocco), the AI Group (Australia) and others. BizMEF Dialogues at Climate Summits have been held every year since 2012 in Doha, Warsaw, Lima, Katowice, Marrakesh, Bonn and, most recently, in Madrid last year.

Foreign Direct Investment More Important Than Ever During Health and Economic Crisis

USCIB Senior Advisor Shaun Donnelly was up early on Thanksgiving morning, participating virtually as a panelist in the annual International Investment Agreements (IIA) Experts conference organized in Geneva by the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). This year’s conference focused on the theme of IIA reform in the time of COVID-19. Donnelly participated in six of the last seven annual conferences organized by UNCTAD on international trade agreements.

In addition to his role as a panelist, Donnelly submitted a short written statement and a three-minute video message. 

“Our main message was simple,” said Donnelly. “In a time of health and economic crisis, private foreign direct investment (FDI) is more important than ever to restoring global economic growth, trade and jobs.” According to Donnelly, investment agreements, including strong dispute settlement provisions can be a critical factor to incentivizing FDI flows. 

Donnelly, a retired U.S. Ambassador and now a consultant to USCIB, also noted, “Unfortunately UNCTAD and many of the government and NGO speakers seem to share a view that FDI rules and IIAs need to be ‘reformed’ to reduce protections for investors and their access to independent arbitration to resolve investment disputes with host governments.  We have a different view; incentivizing and protecting FDI is more important than ever as we all strive for global economic recovery. So it is for business to speak up and get its views on the table in these international investment policy session. I was pleased to be joined this year on my panel by Winand Quaedvlieg from VNO, our Dutch counterpart national association and Chair of the Investment Policy Committee at Business at OECD.”     

UNCTAD’s link to the conference program presentations (including Donnelly’s) and documents.