Business Partners to CONVINCE Supports Global Workplace Vaccine Requirements

New York, N.Y., August 02, 2021—Business Partners to CONVINCE (BP2C), a global communication and education initiative to promote COVID-19 vaccine acceptance among private sector employers and employees, released a statement commending the Biden administration’s announcement on July 29 that it will require all federal employees to attest their vaccination status or be subject to masking, social distancing and COVID-19 testing requirements.

The following statement was made by Scott Ratzan MD, executive director of Business Partners to CONVINCE, an initiative of The USCIB Foundation:

“As COVID-19 vaccination rates wane for a variety of reasons, the COVID delta variant is spreading globally. With vaccination as our principal hope to stem the pandemic, we are pleased by the Biden administration’s decision to require federal employees and onsite contractors to get safe and effective vaccines. We encourage all eligible Americans to get fully vaccinated. We welcome opportunities to work with government, business and civil society to help achieve the vaccination levels for community immunity.

“We call on BP2C’s vast global network, which consists of organizations such as the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), the International Organization of Employers (IOE), Business at OECD (BIAC), Vaccines Europe, and the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) to support their local governments across Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, North and South America in communication and education initiatives around COVID-19 vaccines. These vaccines have been proven to be safe and effective and the best way forward out of this pandemic and towards economic recovery.

“We applaud BP2C steering team partner the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) as well as USCIB members Facebook, Google, The Walt Disney Company, Walmart and Uber that have announced new requirements to encourage vaccinations among their workers and ensure a safe workplace. We encourage other companies to do the same and we stand ready to offer resources and communications strategies to employers about vaccine literacy.”

ABOUT BUSINESS PARTNERS TO CONVINCE: The United States Council for International Business (USCIB), The USCIB Foundation, and Business Partners for Sustainable Development (BPSD) have launched Business Partners to CONVINCE, a global communication and education initiative to promote COVID-19 vaccine acceptance among private sector employers and employees. The new partnership will play an integral role in a broader, global CONVINCE (COVID-19 New Vaccine Information, Communication, and Engagement) campaign to advance vaccine literacy and help ensure a strong and swift recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic through widespread acceptance of safe, effective and accessible vaccines.

ABOUT THE USCIB FOUNDATION: The USCIB Foundation is the research and educational arm of the United States Council for International Business (USCIB). The principal purpose of the Foundation is to carry out research and educational activities designed to promote and advance the benefits of a free-market economy and to demonstrate and document the role of the corporate private sector in economic growth and social development.

USCIB Releases Statement Recognizing World Day Against Trafficking in Persons

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

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

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

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

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

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

Please see resources:

ILO’s Forced labour, modern slavery and human trafficking

United Nations Human Trafficking

About USCIB

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A recording of the full hearing can be found here.

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

John Bescec, Microsoft

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

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

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

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

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

WTO and UN Host Global Dialogue on Trade and Food

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Annual Labor Conference Deliberates COVID-19 and Social Protection

As in years past, USCIB participated in the International Labor Organization’s (ILO) International Labor Conference (ILC) June 3-June 19.  As the U.S. employer representative to the International Employers’ Organization (IOE), USCIB is the only U.S. business organization to participate in the annual conference.

Due to COVID-19, the ILC was cancelled in 2020 for the first time in its 100-year history and is taking place virtually this year.  A second session of the ILC will be taking place from November 25 to December 11 and will cover the critical topics of skills and inequalities.

In addition to standing agenda items, the June session included discussions on the ILO’s response to COVID-19 and Social Protection, as well as General Body elections for the 2021 to 2024 term, to which USCIB Senior Advisor Tom Mackall secured a position as a representative for the Americas. Declarations on the ILO’s Response to COVID-19 and Social Protection were adopted by the Plenary on the Final day of the ILC. USCIB Vice President for Corporate Responsibility and Labor Affairs Gabriella Herzog and Policy and Program Manager Daniella Goncalves participated in the Social Protection negotiations.

Notably USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson delivered remarks on the Director General’s Report, Work in the Time of COVID. After acknowledging and thanking DG Guy Ryder for his years of service, Robinson laid out USCIB priorities for a sustainable and equitable recovery from the pandemic. Highlighting Business Partners to CONVINCE (BP2C) and USCIB’s unique policy expertise and access to multilateral fora, Robinson noted: “USCIB continues to advocate to address decent work deficits through investments in securing rule of law. We remain particularly concerned by the persistent issue of forced labor, which requires international attention. The ILO has a critical role to play and should apply its expertise, leadership and resources to support the elimination of forced labor. “

“We are confident that through increased collaboration and policy coherence, investments in capacity building efforts, and continued social dialogue, with the ILO serving as the custodian of SDG-8, we will emerge from this pandemic a stronger, more resilient and inclusive society,” added Robinson.

USCIB Statement on World Day Against Child Labor

New York N.Y., June 10, 2021 — On the World Day Against Child Labor, the U.S. Council for International Business (USCIB) joins the chorus of global voices calling for elimination of child labor. This issue is one of profound concern for the business community and we applaud the robust efforts of our corporate members to help tackle the scourge of exploitative child labor. As the U.S. business representative to the International Labour Organization (ILO), USCIB has consistently advocated for international action to promote decent work and address the enforcement and implementation gaps that exacerbate vulnerabilities.

Ahead of World Day Against Child Labor on June 12, the ILO and UNICEF released new global estimates on child labor. USCIB notes with great concern the increase of children in child labor for the first time in twenty-years and we know that the COVID-19 pandemic presents an ongoing risk to millions more children.

Despite universal ratification of ILO Convention 182 on the Worst Forms of Child Labor, there remains an unacceptable 160 million children in child labor, seventy-nine million of which are in hazardous work. One child is too many. Therefore, the private sector calls on governments to recommit to and invest in good governance, promulgation of sound national labor laws, and effective enforcement. USCIB stands ready to partner with governments, academia, civil society and the public to reinvigorate efforts to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 8 (SDG-8) to “promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all,” with particular attention to Target 8.7 to end all forms of child labor by 2025.

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.

Digital Economy Conference Assesses a Decade of OECD’s Internet Policy Principles

Digital Economy Conference panelists and speakers

USCIB, Business at OECD (BIAC), and the OECD held another successful Digital Economy conference on May 25, which focused on a decade of OECD’s Internet Policy Principles (IPPs) and aptly titled “Policymaking in a Data-Driven World.” Distinguished speakers from the OECD and both the public and private sectors provided insights and expertise during the event: AT&T, Facebook, Microsoft, Google, IBM Ireland, Walmart, the Inter-American Development Bank, the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Department of Justice, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Center for Democracy and Technology, the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism, MIT, Georgetown University and others.

The IPPs, adopted in 2011, have underpinned the OECD’s evolving work on digital economy issues. The COVID-19 pandemic, which has required many to conduct their lives primarily digitally, highlighted the salience of the IPPs, with its calls for global free flow of information and services, multistakeholder participation in policymaking, and consistent and effective privacy protections and cooperation to ensure Internet security.

“History will likely show that the IPPs were one of the OECD’s more noteworthy contributions to policymaking in a digital economy world,” said USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson during his opening remarks.

Moreover, these themes have been echoed in recent digital economy work of the United Nations, the U.N. Internet Governance Forum and other multilateral bodies. The virtual conference also considered how the IPPs have been reflected in some of the OECD’s ground-breaking digital work – such as development of the Artificial Intelligence (AI) Principles and how IPPs may be employed to address challenges posed by the rapid pace of digital innovation and related changes to the digital ecosystem.

“Over this past year with the COVID-19 pandemic, we have witnessed an incredible acceleration of the digital transformation which has made our cooperation with the OECD all the more important,” said BIAC Executive Director Hanni Rosenbaum. “We see this third phase of the digital project as a key opportunity to advance, among others, secure and globally interoperable policy frameworks for responsible data sharing and collaboration on cross-border data flows with trust.

The conference was the fifth Digital Economy conference organized by USCIB, BIAC and OECD, and the second conference in the series that has commemorated the late Joseph H. Alhadeff.

USCIB Letter to Trade Representative Tai Supports Greener Trade Policy

USCIB submitted a letter to United States Trade Representative (USTR) Ambassador Katherine Tai in response to Tai’s recent comments at the Center for American Progress Greening U.S. Trade Policy program. In her remarks, Tai outlined both the Biden Administration’s vision to green U.S. and multilateral trade policy and welcomed business engagement to share experience and ideas in this effort.

“We are keen to support a trade agenda that reinvigorates negotiations on environmental goods and services, addresses fossil fuel and fisheries subsidies, ensures compatibility between environmental and trade rules, and considers the circular economy holistically,” said USCIB Senior Vice President for Innovation, Regulation, and Trade Brian Lowry.

Lowry added: “USCIB and its members understand that resource conservation is a critical environmental consideration and that a resilient supply chain must recognize and account for the finite supply of planetary resources.”

In line with the explicit recognition of the criticality of resource conservation, the letter emphasized that outdated trade policies and international rules that restrict cross border flows of used products and secondary material feedstock continue to be obstacles to effective and efficient resource recovery. Reducing these barriers, alongside the encouragement and implementation of environmentally sound options to recycle and recover waste, will enable creative solutions that work in synergy with trade rather than impose counter-productive barriers.