USCIB Defends Foreign Direct Investment at OECD

USCIB has led private sector participation at a series of recent events organized by the OECD’s Investment Committee.  Kimberley Claman, director of international government affairs in Citi’s Washington office, was a lead speaker for the Business at OECD (BIAC) delegation in a condensed, virtual OECD annual International Investment Agreements Conference on March 29.

During a portion of the conference, titled “The Future of International Investment Agreements” on March 29, Claman laid out a coherent business vision on the importance of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) flows, especially in a post-pandemic world, and of strong investment agreements to help provide the certainty, assurance and enforceability required by investors. “Typical of these OECD sessions, other speakers were skeptical of FDI and, especially of investment treaties, so having a strong business voice is critical,” said USCIB Senior Advisor Shaun Donnelly. “Kimberley did a great job.”

Donnelly returned to the OECD investment policy debates on March 31 as a lead speaker for BIAC in an early-morning, virtual seminar at the fifth session of the OECD’s long-running “FDI Qualities” policy dialogue. OECD staff laid out its latest research and analysis on FDI’s impact to an audience that included a diverse group of academics, NGOs and business representatives. The presentation focused on four areas selected from the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)– gender inclusivity, quality jobs and productivity enhancement, low carbon intensity, and promoting small and medium enterprises (SMEs).  Donnelly was the lead business commentator on the jobs and productivity session and spoke in the gender discussion, bringing a real-world, business perspective to the oftentimes academic nature of OECD seminars.

Donnelly was also back on the agenda as part of the BIAC Investment Committee leadership in the formal “stakeholder dialogue” with government representatives on the OECD Investment Committee at their April 8 wrap-up session following a week of OECD meetings.  This “stakeholder” session gave BIAC an opportunity to underline directly to the OECD committee its business perspectives and priorities on investment policy in a post-pandemic period.

“We see these OECD sessions on FDI policies, especially policies related to international investment agreements as important opportunities to present a business perspective on why FDI is so important to global economic growth, integration, trade and jobs,” said Donnelly, who is a retired U.S. Ambassador and trade negotiator.

Donnelly added: “Frankly, FDI, investment treaties and global economic integration are under unfair political attacks here at home and around the world.  We as business need to tell our story—how international investment flows, both inward and outward, are good for the American economy.  We welcome these opportunities to talk investment issues, not just with like-minded business groups but also with broader mix of participants that we find at OECD, UNCTAD and other UN sessions.  We are particularly grateful to Kimberley Claman from USCIB member company Citi for making time to take on a major speaking role. She did a fantastic job presenting how businesses in the real world approach investment decisions, and how those decisions are good for our economy.”

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.

Business Partners to CONVINCE – Vaccination for a Healthy Planet

Business Partners to CONVINCE is a global network of employers that agree to promote vaccine literacy and encourage COVID-19 vaccination among employees, suppliers, and customers.

Join our Global COVID-19 Workplace Challenge!

Please visit our webpage: https://www.businesspartners2convince.org/

Follow us on Twitter: @BP2Convince

Digital Economy Architects to Keynote at Joint OECD, Business at OECD and USCIB Conference

New York, N.Y., March 16, 2021 — For the past year, the COVID-19 pandemic has required us to conduct our lives virtually and has, subsequently, highlighted the relevance of the OECD’s Internet Policy Principles (IPPs). These principles call for a global free flow of information and services, multistakeholder participation, and cooperation to ensure Internet security and privacy. With these issues in mind, USCIB joined with the OECD and Business at OECD (BIAC) to organize a Digital Economy Conference focusing on “A Decade of OECD Internet Principles: Policy-Making in a Data-Driven World.” Key experts, such as MIT’s Daniel Weitzner, Microsoft’s Julie Brill, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce Christopher Hoff, Ambassador David Gross of Wiley, and Sharri Clark from the White House, as well as OECD’s Andrew Wyckoff, among others, will discuss the evolving digital ecosystem, Artificial Intelligence (AI), government access to data, and challenges to both business and policymakers.

“The IPPs, adopted in 2011, have underpinned the OECD’s evolving work on digital economy issues in the past decade,” said USCIB Vice President for ICT Policy Barbara Wanner. “These themes have also been echoed in recent digital economy work of the United Nations, the UN Internet Governance Forum, and other multilateral bodies.”

The May 25 virtual conference, officially the “Joseph H. Alhadeff Digital Economy Conference,” will consider how the IPPs have been reflected in some of the OECD’s ground-breaking digital work – such as development of the AI Principles. Industry experts will also consider how the Principles may be employed to address challenges posed by the rapid pace of digital innovation and related changes to the digital ecosystem.

Registration is now open for this conference. Please contact Erin Breitenbucher to register: ebreitenbucher@uscib.org.

Members of the press and media are also welcome to register and join.

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.

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.

USCIB Statement on the WTO’s New Director-General

Photo credit: Martial Trezzini/EPA, via Shutterstock

New York, N.Y., February 08, 2021: The United States Council for International Business (USCIB), which represents many of America’s leading global companies, welcomed news ​of the Biden administration’s decision to support Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as the new Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO). This decision is indicative of a shift in U.S. support for the WTO and its view of the criticality of the multilateral trading system. Further, the decision has been viewed as an affirmation of the U.S. commitment to constructively address substantive and procedural reforms.

Dr. Okonjo-Iweala, who will be the first woman to lead the organization, has shared that she intends to take a more active role as Director-General and to act as a sounding board to try to find common ground among the trade body’s disparate membership. Since the departure of former Director-General Roberto Azevedo in August of 2020 and the prior refusal of the U.S. to support Dr. Okonjo-Iweala, the ​future leadership of the WTO has been uncertain.

“Open trade and global value chains are fundamental drivers for recovery from the current global crisis,” said USCIB Senior Vice President for Innovation, Regulation, and Trade Brian Lowry. “Once formally approved by the WTO General Council, Dr. Okonjo-Iweala will have the opportunity to lead the organization into a new era of increased action and inclusive multilateralism.”

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.

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.