12th Annual Engaging Business Forum

About: ENGAGING BUSINESS FORUM: collaboration through partnerships to address business and human rights trends and developments.

October 7- 8

Hosted by The Coca-Cola Company (One Coca-Cola Plaza, Atlanta, Georgia)

The forum is co-organized by USCIB, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the International Organization of Employers (IOE).

If you have any questions or comments, please contact Kendall Thibeadeau (kthibeadeau@uscib.org).

IOE Hosts Digital Conference of COVID Impact on Global Trade, Supply Chains, Employment

The International Organization of Employers’ (IOE) hosted a digital conference on the impact of COVID-19 on global trade, supply chains and employment on April 8. The conference addressed the “pause button” placed on the global economy in efforts to limit the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and endeavored to answer questions such as: whether trade activities will return to normal, how many jobs will be lost, whether companies can continue producing and whether global production chains will be revamped after the crisis.

USCIB Senior Director, Investment Trade and Financial Services Eva Hampl participated as a speaker.

In her comments, Hampl emphasized the importance of maintaining an open trade and investment climate, pointing to these conditions as being necessary to rebuild the economy post crisis.

“USCIB is working with our various partners and affiliates to develop policy that looks toward addressing the current problems, but also retaining the structures that work, and rebuilding those that were affected by the crisis,” said Hampl. “Right now the global economy is still in triage and international cooperation is key at this moment. High level statements like the G20 leaders’ statement committing to work with the World Health Organization (WHO), International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank, United Nations and others to address the crisis, or the World Trade Organization (WTO) and World Customs Organization (WCO) coming together in a joint statement pledging to work together to facilitate trade in essential goods such as medical supplies, food and energy, are necessary and welcome to business at this time. As the global economy deals with this crisis and looks to rebuilding, business will be a key driver and partner of the recovery process.”

USCIB Speaks on Human Rights and Responsible Toy Sourcing

USCIB Assistant Policy and Program Manager Daniella Goncalves was a panelist at the New York Toy Fair Seminar, “Responsible Toy Sourcing: Maximizing Global Opportunities.”  The event took place on February 24 and brought together toy industry practitioners to discuss current trends and emerging risks and regulations affecting toy manufacturing, as well as presenting opportunities to diversify toy supply chains beyond China in 2020.

Goncalves spoke about the growing trend of human rights due diligence legislation at the national and international levels, as well as regulatory development related to global supply chains, forced labor and child labor.  “Our members have been leaders for decades in addressing human rights in their supply chains and continue to evolve their programs to address emerging risks,” she said. “Corporations can and should continue to operate in line with the UN Guiding Principles, but we also need governments to uphold their ‘duty to protect’ against human rights violations by passing, implementing and enforcing labor laws that adhere to international standards.”

The seminar was hosted by the International Council of Toy Council of Toy Industries’ (ICTI) Ethical Toy Program. The Ethical Toy Program was created fifteen years ago and seeks to equip factories with a code of conduct, training, audits and assessments, certifications and worker well-being focused programming. The program is recognized for its commitment to ethical production through its emphasis on worker rights and well-being.

USCIB Contributes to ILO Program on Decent Work in Global Supply Chains

USCIB had a strong and active presence at the International Labor Organization’s (ILO) technical meeting on Achieving Decent Work in Global Supply Chains in Geneva, February 25-28. USCIB Vice President for Corporate Responsibility and Labor Affairs Gabriella Rigg Herzog, as well several USCIB members, represented U.S. business at the meeting.

This was the third meeting on the topic of decent work in global supply chains, a project which was launched at the 2016 ILO International Labor Conference. The purpose of this recent meeting was to assess the failures that lead to decent work deficits in global supply chains and identify the salient challenges of governance to achieving decent work in global supply chains. The meeting also considered the types of guidance, programs, measures, initiatives or standards that are necessary to promote decent work and/or facilitate reducing decent work deficits in global supply chains.

“Employers welcome the opportunity for constructive collaboration between the private sector, governments and workers to find lasting solutions to decent work deficits in supply chains,” said Herzog.  “Employers emphasized that companies must comply with the law, respect human and labor rights and should use their leverage to push business partners to do the same.  However, systematic issues like child labor, forced labor, discrimination and disrespect for occupational safety standards cannot be solved by any one business or the business community as a whole.  Employers encouraged collaboration among all social partners to increase governmental capacity to pass, implement and enforce labor laws that adhere to international standards.

USCIB Supports Event on Gender Equality in Sciences, Education

In celebration of the five years since the United Nations formally recognized the need to increase gender equality in the sciences to support implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Royal Academy of Sciences International Trust (RASIT), with co-sponsorship from USCIB and the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), hosted the 5th International Day of Women and Girls in Science Assembly from February 11-12 at the UN headquarters in New York.

The event drew widespread support and interest from countries such as Hungary, Zambia, Montenegro, St. Kitts and Nevis and Portugal, as well as UN agencies, including the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and the International Telecommunications Union (ITU). Academics, UN officials, ambassadors, royalty, young scientists and business representatives, including USCIB Assistant Policy and Program Manager Daniella Goncalves, joined the event to discuss the forum’s theme of driving investment in equality in science, technology and innovation in the digitalization era for inclusive green growth.

According to Goncalves, several young women, as young as eleven, made inspiring interventions, detailing their efforts to bring about equity through robotics and coding applications, use of emerging technology in agriculture and irrigation, medicine and more.

“Together, the accounts illustrated a pressing need for movement in the gender pay gap, skilling and access to research, while simultaneously displaying the work of the next generation of female scientists and technologists in solving these issues,” said Goncalves.

USCIB Adopts Carbon Offset Program for Employee International Travel

USCIB today announced that it has initiated a program to support carbon offsets for its employees’ international travel.

This initiative reflects USCIB’s continuous engagement in international climate policy deliberations supporting U.S. private sector engagement and solutions towards GHG emissions reduction, adaptation and resilience, and its recognition of its global carbon footprint.

In 2019, USCIB staff, together with member company representatives, participated in over 90 meetings and negotiations of some 18 international institutions in over 25 locations around the globe.

Beginning this month, January, 2020, carbon offset tables are being used by USCIB to calculate the carbon equivalent costs of international airline flights. That amount is being donated to sustainability programs such as forest conservation and management. The contributions will go to organizations participating with airlines most often used by USCIB staff.

In many cases, specific options of sustainability programs are provided to enable the contributor to make a “greatest impact” choice.  Where an airline does not work directly with an established organization, USCIB will decide on the recipient program.

USCIB recognizes that in the future, airlines themselves may be required to offset emissions under the UN International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA), agreed in 2018 in Montreal, which when enacted would make USCIB’s program redundant for international passenger offsets. However, the lack of agreement on an implementation schedule at the recent COP 25 meeting in Madrid of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) resulted in a postponement of enactment beyond the original 2021 goal. Until that time, USCIB believes that its carbon offset program is a positive contribution that it can make in the face of the global climate challenge.

USCIB will maintain a record of the offsets that will be available to members who might wish to see progress updates.

USCIB Statement on Signing of USMCA

Washington, D.C., January 29, 2020 – The U.S. Council for International Business (USCIB), which represents many of America’s leading global companies, welcomes today’s signing of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) trade agreement, updating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Over 12 million American jobs depend on trade with Canada and Mexico, so USMCA is an important agreement for U.S. industry for future economic growth.

“The agreement contains several provisions modernizing the original NAFTA, creating new opportunities for American companies and consumers,” said USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson. “However, USMCA also leaves room for improvement for future negotiations, so we look forward to continued dialogue with the Administration on ensuring critical protections will be upheld in future agreements.”

  • Digital Trade: USMCA contains a state of the art digital trade chapter, including prohibiting cross-border data flow restrictions and data localization requirements, prohibiting requirements for source code or algorithm disclosure or transfer as a condition for market access, prohibiting customs duties on electronic transmissions, provisions on consumer protection, privacy, cybersecurity and open government data. This new chapter allows companies to more effectively operate in the modern global economy.
  • Customs and Trade Facilitation: USMCA significantly updates the customs and trade facilitation provisions from the original NAFTA, ensuring that goods can efficiently flow in and out of the United States. The parties agreed on provisions related to trade facilitation, including the creation of a single-access window system and expedited customs procedures for express shipments. The agreement also includes commitments from Canada and Mexico to increase their de minimis levels, moving toward leveling the playing field for American companies.
  • Labor provisions: The original NAFTA was the first FTA to include labor provisions, though they were contained in side letters. USCMA brings the labor chapter into the agreement’s body, introduces strengthened labor provisions and makes them enforceable. The provisions require adherence to core labor standards of the International Labor Organization (ILO) and effective enforcement of national labor laws.
  • IP protections: USMCA contains important provisions protecting the intellectual property rights (IPR) of American companies, including protections on patents, copyright, trademarks and trade secrets, which are important for the ability of American companies to continue to innovate. One major omission, however, is the opportunity to fully protect biologics. The removal of increased market exclusivity of biologics in the final agreement is detrimental to American companies and consumers.
  • Investment: Protections for American companies when investing in Canada or Mexico are vital to ensure continued growth and development. USMCA contains such protections for many sectors, however does not fully protect all American companies across the board by significantly limiting access to the dispute settlement mechanism. In addition, even the limited dispute settlement mechanism is only available with Mexico, so for investment disputes with Canada, American investors have to rely on mechanisms outside of the newly negotiated agreement. Picking winners and losers for investment protection is not an appropriate precedent for U.S. FTAs going forward.

USCIB looks forward to entry into force and effective implementation of this important trade deal for U.S. business, and increased trade opportunities for our members.

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, and Business at OECD (known as 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.

Contacts:

Kira Yevtukhova, USCIB
+1 202.617.3160,
kyevtukhova@uscib.org
Glen Brandow, USCIB
+1 212.703.5043,
gbrandow@uscib.org

ICC Comments to ITU Emphasize Enabling Environment

In an effort to inform the work of the United Nations about the tremendous potential of emerging ICT-technologies to help realize economic and social prosperity, USCIB has been working with the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) over the past several years to develop policy papers and statements. On January 22, USCIB submitted comments to the Open Consultation convened by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) Working Group on International Internet-related Public Policy Issues, which focused on required components that would foster the development and disseminations of emerging technologies for sustainable economic development. Importantly, this approach would help to meet specific targets of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

According to USCIB Vice President for ICT Policy Barbara Wanner, these components go beyond simply building infrastructure. The components include a foundation composed of infrastructure, applications and services and user engagement, a layer composed of policy issues – economic, technical, social/cultural, governance, and another layer featuring participation of relevant stakeholders from business, government, civil society and the technical community to inform the policymaking process.

USCIB cited ICT, Policy and Sustainable Economic Development, a policy paper prepared by the ICC Commission on the Digital Economy with active contributions from USCIB members, as the basis for its comments.

“We urge the ITU to use this document as a reference since underlying elements of the framework – everything from infrastructure and spectrum allocation, to data protection and cross border data flows, to digital skill development and access – will continue to be necessary to effectively harness the benefits of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and other emerging technologies going forward,” said Wanner.

USCIB also endorsed comments submitted by ICC BASIS as part of this public consultation.

 

Robinson Kicks Off 2020 With OECD, ICC France, ICC Germany 

ICC-Germany staff (Secretary-General Oliver Wieck, center) with USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson (right) in Berlin

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) held its annual consultation with Business at OECD on January 13 in Paris under the theme, Role of Business in Lifelong Opportunities: People First Policies to Bridge Divides. USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson and AT&T Senior Vice President Karim Lesina provided a kick-off presentation on behalf of industry, followed by remarks by OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurria and Business at OECD’s Chairman Phil O’Reilly and Secretary-General Russell Mills.

Recommendations by Business at OECD focused on the value of relying on open markets on trade, investment, taxation and development initiatives; ensuring a people-first approach to developing new approaches to the Future of Work; and incentivizing and driving innovation in the health and environment areas in the 5G generation.

According to Robinson, it was the best-attended consultation to date, with a strong business delegation, senior OECD staff including all four Deputy Secretaries-General and OECD Ambassadors from nearly all OECD member countries. In helping to set the stage, Robinson emphasized the continued commitment of the American business community to open markets and multilateral approaches and institutions. “The necessity for inclusive multilateralism, whereby all stakeholders—including business—have a seat at the table to pursue societal challenges together is crucial,” said Robinson, who also praised the OECD in setting an appropriate example in this regard.

Lesina provided the perspective of a leading modern media company that is investing globally while driving innovation in life-long learning opportunities for its employees.  He highlighted that increased convergence and digitalization have helped create a truly global economy, providing consumers today with a unique opportunity to benefit from cross-border activity best cultivated by open market policies. Lesina emphasized the need for flexible policy and regulatory frameworks that foster innovation and drive creativity and underscored the vital role of the OECD in delivering the benefits of the digital economy to consumers everywhere through forward-looking and evidence-based policymaking.

“The Consultation provides an excellent opportunity for business to interact with OECD staff and country Ambassadors,” said Robinson. Robinson had several meetings with OECD management staff to discuss Business at OECD and USCIB priorities.

While in Paris, Robinson also visited USCIB’s International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) National Committee counterpart, ICC-France, and met with the new Secretary-General of ICC-France, Emmanuelle Butaud-Stubbs, to discuss mutual interests and priorities and cooperation in policy areas including trade and environment.

Robinson then traveled to Berlin to meet with several of USCIB’s global affiliate counterparts in Germany: ICC-Germany, the German Employers Federation (BDA) and the German Chamber of Industry and Commerce (DIHK). Secretary-General of ICC-Germany Oliver Wieck, Director of Communications Katrin Rupprecht and staff organized a discussion forum at which Robinson addressed U.S. Trade Policy in 2020. ICC-Germany members including Siemens, Thyssenkrupp and BDI attended as did Dr. Berend Diekmann, head of division for USA/Canada/Mexico from the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy. Finally, Robinson met with BDA CEO Steffen Kampeter and DIHK Director of ATA Carnet Dr. Kornelia Ferati.

USCIB Celebrates ILO at Annual Leadership Award Gala

L-R: Peter Robinson (USCIB), Laura Rubbo (The Walt Disney Company), Guy Ryder (ILO), Terry McGraw (USCIB and formerly The McGraw-Hill Companies)

In celebration of The International Labor Organization’s (ILO) centennial this year, USCIB honored the ILO and its Director-General Guy Ryder with its annual International Leadership Award yesterday evening, December 16. The gala event was held at the Lotte New York Palace, under the theme “Resilient Institutions That Matter.” Representatives from business, the United Nations, government and special guests attended the dinner, which also recognized the centennials of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) this past year, and the upcoming centennial of the International Organization of Employers (IOE) in 2020. Esteemed guests included USCIB Chairman Terry McGraw, IOE Secretary-General Roberto Suarez Santos, ICC Permanent Representative to the UN Andrew Wilson, Acting U.S. Representative to the UN Economic and Social Council Jason Mack, Chief of Staff of the UN Global Compact Melissa Powell, Permanent Observer of the OECD to the UN Robin Ogilvy, Executive Director of the UN Office for Partnerships Rob Skinner, Chief of the Intergovernmental Policy and Review Branch for the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs Irena Zubcevic and many others.

“Imagine what we could accomplish if all stakeholders are at the table working to improve education, reduce poverty, ensure social protection, provide job opportunities and tackle such challenges as climate change and environmental protection,” said USCIB President and CEO Peter M. Robinson in his opening remarks. One thing we do know at USCIB, and that is if we are to find solutions to those challenges…business is an essential partner.”

UN Under Secretary General and Special Advisor on Preparations for the UN’s 75th anniversary Fabrizio Hochschild agreed, recognizing the essential role of business and global cooperation in his remarks at the gala as the UN looks towards the next twenty-five years: “We hope to have strong voices from the business community. We want to hear from you about how we perform for the next twenty-five years.”

Throughout the course of the evening USCIB presented videos honoring the influential roles of the ICC, IOE and ILO over the past century.

Established in 1919 in the waning days of World War I, the ILO’s founders believed that universal peace could only come about if it was based on social justice.

USCIB Chairman Terry McGraw presents the USCIB International Leadership Award to ILO Director General Guy Ryder

“On behalf of the ILO, I am extremely honored by this award. The recognition and support of your influential organization is especially valuable in these uncertain times, when technology, climate change, globalization and demographics are all reshaping the worlds of enterprise and work,” said Ryder. “By continuing our cooperation, I am confident that we can meet this existential challenge and create a new model of business and employment that is human-centered, equitable and sustainable.” Ryder also joined The Walt Disney Company’s Laura Rubbo in a fireside chat, during which he highlighted ILO’s achievements and shared the organization’s priorities for the future.

Ryder was elected as ILO Director-General by the ILO’s Governing Body in May 2012 and took office on October 1, 2012. Since then, Ryder has launched a reform process geared towards assuring the ILO’s authority on matters falling within its mandate. Ryder was re-elected by the ILO’s tripartite Governing Body on November 7, 2016, and his second term started on October 1, 2017. The main aims of the ILO are to promote rights at work, encourage decent employment opportunities, enhance social protection and strengthen dialogue on work-related issues. The unique tripartite structure of the ILO is intended to give an equal voice to workers, employers and governments so that the views of the social partners are closely reflected in labor standards and in shaping policies and programs.

Established in 1980, USCIB’s International Leadership Award is presented annually to a leading CEO, international figure or institution, recognizing outstanding contributions to global trade, finance and investment, and to improving the global competitive framework in which American business operates. Recent recipients have included Paul Polman of Unilever (Chairman of ICC), Ajay Banga of Mastercard and Randall Stephenson of AT&T. The annual USCIB award dinner attracts hundreds of top business executives, policy makers and members of the diplomatic community.