USCIB Hosts A Conversation About the Future of Food

On the eve of the United Nations Food Systems and Nutrition Summit on September 23, USCIB convened a virtual event—The Future of Food: A Conversation— with experts and practitioners from across societal, scientific, value chain and innovation perspectives.

The September 21 event highlighted the need for and successful examples of innovation across the food and agriculture industry, the roles and relevance of collaborative approaches to innovation, and how shared value and understanding can hold the key to future opportunities.

Facilitated by USCIB Senior Vice President for Innovation, Regulation, and Trade Brian Lowry, the event was convened around the premise that in order to feed a growing population within planetary boundaries—considering amount of global climate emissions linked to agriculture and food—leaders must rethink how food, and especially protein, is made and sourced. Transforming the food system is not a solitary task; industry must come together and find new ways to collaborate and partner, and new alternatives must be created in a complementary manner.

Expert speakers included USCIB member Dr. Randal Giroux of Cargill, who also chairs the USCIB Agriculture Committee, as well as Valerio Nannini, Novozymes general manager for Novozymes Advanced Proteins Solutions. Other experts included Christine Gould, founder and president of Food for Thought, and The Good Food Institute Vice President, Corporate Engagement Caroline Bushnell.

Together, these experts discussed how industry is responding through strategy, science, and sustainability; the types of complementary solutions that are under development within value chains, and how new ways of thinking and working together can be applied to support such efforts; the views of younger generations and how younger consumers are changing the landscape around the sustainable food revolution; and how we can incorporate alternative sources of food and proteins into the future of sustainable farming and how to factor in climate change, and subsequently, climate action.

In closing, Lowry said, “Welcome to the starting line of what is clearly and important race  – a marathon – to transform the global food system.  I am thrilled to be at the start of this marathon with such an impressive and passionate group of people. People who do not want to watch it happen, but want to make it happen.”

USCIB Event at UN General Assembly Reaffirms Business’ Commitment to Countering Global Challenges

Top: Brian Lowry (USCIB), Norine Kennedy (USCIB) Bottom: Michele Parmelee (Deloitte), Hans-Jorn Weddige (Business at OECD)

On the margins of this week’s 76th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), USCIB partnered with the International Organization of Employers (IOE) and Business at OECD to organize a virtual discussion titledReinvigorating Inclusive Multilateralism: A Business Townhall at UNGA76.” The meeting was dedicated to the memory of John Ruggie, former UN Special Envoy for Business and Human Rights, who recently passed away.

Ester Baiget, Novozymes chief executive, and USCIB Trustee and Sustainability Champion, opened the event. “We must drive the change we want to see together,” said Baiget in her opening remarks.

Other USCIB Board members, namely Michele Parmelee (Deloitte) and John Frank (Microsoft), also served as speakers, on climate change, business and human rights, and on new ways for the business community to engage with and strengthen the effectiveness of the multilateral system en route to a sustainable and inclusive recovery.

UNGA76 convenes at a time of multiple challenges, which are putting the multilateral system to the test and raising questions about the resilience of the UN and such basic values of democracy, rule of law and inclusive societies. The event focused on three fireside chats, specifically aligning with key priorities of the President of the UN General Assembly —climate change and environment; human rights and business; pandemic response and recovery.

“UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres recently issued a report, ‘Our Common Agenda,’ clearly highlighting the need to reinvigorate multilateralism,” said USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson. “Business is ready to work with the international community and contribute to ‘break throughs’ that protect people and planet.”

Participants from business and industry, the UN, governments, and civil society tuned into the session, which highlighted the critical role of the private sector in being able to achieve ‘Our Common Agenda,’ and particularly of the U.S. private sector in aligning with global business to respond to global challenges, and provide solutions working through inclusive multilateralism.

Speakers included:

Robin Ogilvy, OECD Special Representative and Permanent Observer to the UN

Matthias Thorns, IOE Deputy Secretary General

Dr. Scott Ratzan, Executive Director, Business Partners for Sustainable Development, an initiative of The USCIB Foundation

Larry O. Gostin, Georgetown University Law School

Fernando Ylanes Almanza President, Social Security Commission, CONCAMIN

USCIB Makes Recommendations to Biden Administration on Negotiations of Investor-State Dispute Settlement

USCIB submitted a letter to officials in the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Trade Representative regarding ongoing negotiations on reform of Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) in the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) Working Group III.

“USCIB has been the lead private sector observer delegation throughout these negotiations and has long been a leading voice for the U.S. private sector on international investment policy issues,” said USCIB Director of Investment, Trade, and China Alice Slayton Clark. 

The letter emphasized several policy issues of concern to the U.S. business and industry community, including the European Union’s ill-conceived proposal to replace ISDS with a multilateral investment court, which the United States has opposed under successive Democratic and Republican administrations.

According to Clark, “we have seen almost no support for the court amongst U.S. stakeholders, including business, labor, and environmental groups.”

The letter also noted that UNCITRAL WG III is considering other “reforms” to ISDS that would be unfavorable to U.S. business. For example, some states have proposed that investors who own shares in a foreign company should be prohibited from seeking a remedy for damages to their investments if they do not control the company. Such an approach would leave U.S. investors entirely without a remedy in many cases, even where the law requires them to invest through a joint venture with local partners.

USCIB made three recommendations for the Biden Administration to consider:
• that the U.S. government continue to assign a high priority to the UNCITRAL WG III negotiations;
• that the U.S. government continue the practice of dialogue and cooperation with USCIB, the broader U.S. private sector, and other stakeholders; and
• that the U.S. government seek to include on the agenda for any upcoming high-level U.S.-EU meeting, a frank discussion of the EU’s multilateral investment court proposal and the UNCITRAL negotiations.

World Intellectual Property Organization, USCIB Hold Virtual Dialogue

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and USCIB held a virtual dialogue on July 29 with over twenty participants, including USCIB members and WIPO Assistant Directors General Marco Aleman and Edward Kwakwa.

According to USCIB Senior Vice President for Innovation, Regulation, and Trade Brian Lowry, the dialogue covered a range of topics of interest to USCIB members. Specifically, WIPO leaders engaged on the following: The Hague System for the International Registration of Industrial Designs; Intellectual Property (IP) and Innovation Ecosystem Sector; WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center; Building Respect for Intellectual Property; WIPO’s Department for Economics and Data Analytics; WIPO GREEN; Geneva Intellectual Property Discussions

“It was clear from the increased activity at WIPO in the past 18 months that WIPO is very much alive and functional, even in these most difficult times,” said Lowry.

“In addition to the wealth of information provided, the Dialogue provided members with new opportunities to advance their business objectives with support from WIPO programs, initiatives, and personnel. WIPO leadership specifically requested members to contact them with their specific interests for further engagements to advance projects and outcomes, as well as to identify opportunities to help advance the youth and IP initiative which was discussed briefly,” he added.

USCIB Meets With New OECD Secretary General Cormann on His First Official DC Visit

L-R: Kennedy, Robinson, SG Cormann, Johnston meet in the OECD Washington DC office in July 2021

USCIB members joined a first meeting and dialogue with OECD Secretary General Mathias Cormann, hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on July 21 in Washington DC. USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson, and Citi Managing Director and Business at OECD (BIAC) Chair Charles R. Johnston, led the discussion, along with USCIB Board Member and Executive Vice President for International Affairs at the Chamber Myron Brilliant.

As the U.S. affiliate of and representative to BIAC, the official business spokes-organization to the OECD, USCIB values and engages with OECD on a wide range of cross-cutting issues. In light of the U.S. chairmanship of this year’s OECD Ministerial Council Meeting on October 5–6 in Paris, the meeting offered USCIB Committee Chairs and other active member representatives the opportunity to highlight their priorities for OECD’s policy recommendations.

SG Cormann described his leadership priorities for OECD, which center around restoring economic growth and recovery, including through multilateral trade. He highlighted the thought leadership role of the OECD in G7 and G20 discussions of a global corporate minimum tax rate. He also discussed the potential for OECD to contribute to a possible similar global conversation on carbon pricing and carbon border adjustment. Other topics covered included responsible business conduct; tackling illicit trade; and innovation and digital economy.

In his closing remarks, Robinson stated, “Imagine what could be accomplished if all multilateral institutions followed the OECD’s consultative model to work with business and co-create solutions to urgent challenges!”

Robinson thanked Cormann, and said that USCIB and the American business community are dedicated to working with OECD through BIAC to show the way through and past the pandemic on fundamentals like regulatory coherence and combatting corruption, as well as on emerging technologies and issues.

USCIB Praises US Engagement But Urges More Ambitious WTO Negotiation on Services Domestic Regulations

USCIB submitted a letter to the Biden administration lauding its recent decision to engage in World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations to facilitate trade in services, but urging a more ambitious outcome.

A plurilateral negotiation involving sixty-four nations, the Joint Statement Initiative (JSI) on Services Domestic Regulations (SDR) seeks to streamline and make more transparent domestic regulations governing services covered under the 1995 WTO General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS). This would largely target rules that authorize the supply of services such as licensing and qualification requirements and procedures, as well as technical standards relating to trade.

The August 2 letter, co-signed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and National Foreign Trade Counsel, requests U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai to press like-minded nations to maximize the agreement’s potential by extending the proposed disciplines on regulations to a broader set of services sectors.

“While the JSI would be meaningful as currently considered, it would be far more beneficial to extend the disciplines beyond the sectors under GATS, which are uneven in coverage and out of date,” said USCIB Director for Investment, Trade and China Alice Slayton Clark.

Services trade comprises nearly half of global trade in value-added terms and has grown at twice the rate of merchandise trade over the past decade. Yet it costs double to trade in services compared to goods. According to the letter: “streamlining and updating regulatory regimes in the broadest array of services sectors will go far in correcting this inequity.” It would also contribute to global economic recovery, providing a boost to a sector disproportionately harmed by pandemic shutdowns and travel restrictions.

A copy of the letter is available here.

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 Letter Urges Agreement on EU-US Personal Data Flows

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

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

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

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

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