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.

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.”

USCIB Welcomes Commitment by G7 to Inclusive Global Recovery

New York, N.Y., June 16, 2021—Following the G7 Leaders’ Summit in Cornwall, UK, the United States Council for International Business (USCIB) welcomes the G7’s resolute commitment in this time of crisis to a cooperative and inclusive global recovery built on democratic values, private sector partnership, open trade, investment and sustainability.

We are proud to embrace the G7’s enduring ideals of free open societies and democracies, and its support for inclusive multilateralism in action.

We agree that tackling root causes of human rights abuses and combatting failures of integrity and transparency are essential to any effort to build back better and importantly, to also provide the fullest possible access to healthcare and vaccines worldwide.

We are committed to eliminating forced labor and other human rights abuses from global supply chains, and to advance the uptake of the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. We applaud renewed attention on eradicating corruption as it erodes public trust in government, wastes resources and presents an obstacle to needed economic and social development and our shared vision of achieving the Paris Agreement and UN 2030 Goals.

We are inspired by USCIB members mobilizing to help meet the ongoing pandemic challenge. Vaccinating the world against COVID-19 is essential to economic recovery; this urgent task will require production, as well as widespread distribution and administration of vaccines. The private sector serves as an important partner in this endeavor and can assist with vaccine-deployment strategies based on efficiency and equity. A sustainable, durable solution will address a host of issues, including: re-distribution of excess vaccine supplies to countries that face shortages; removing regulatory and trade barriers to vaccine production and distribution; efficient supply chain operations; procurement challenges; the potential risks associated with counterfeit and illicit trade in medical goods; and addressing hesitancy and misinformation about vaccines. While more needs to be done, the U.S. and G7 support for COVAX and Act-A are big steps in the right direction. Through Business Partners to CONVINCE (BP2C), USCIB is advancing actionable workplace strategies for vaccine adoption while highlighting the vital role employers play in educating their employees on the facts about COVID-19 vaccines.

We believe that private sector innovation and its wide deployment, whether in healthcare solutions, digital access or climate change, will be fundamental to attain the ambitious targets and actions set out in the communique. The G7 has emphasized the need for urgent reform and revitalization at the World Trade Organization (WTO) and incentivizing innovation as key priorities in all of these areas. We couldn’t agree more.

We appreciate the G7’s ongoing dialogue and cooperation with business, and thank the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) for coordinating this year’s B7 process.

USCIB Raises Concerns About a Vaccines Waiver at WTO

USCIB joined a multi-industry letter to World Trade Organization (WTO) Director-General Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala regarding the ongoing discussions of a waiver of certain intellectual property (IP) rights for the prevention, containment and treatment of COVID-19.

Serving as representative for Business Partners to CONVINCE, an initiative of The USCIB Foundation, Brian Lowry, USCIB senior vice president, wanted to ensure that USCIB was doing its part to help improve vaccine availability.

“Fundamentally, the letter raises concerns about the practical impact of the waiver of IP rights on the real issues of distribution and administration of the vaccines,” Lowry said. “The challenges here are multifaceted and need a holistic approach, rather than one narrowly focused on intellectual property. There are trade-related obstacles that are preventing timely – and equitable – access to these critical products.”

The letter highlights genuine trade barriers such as export restrictions and technical regulations, quarantine obligations on essential transport and logistics services providers, as well as the removal or reduction of tariffs on goods that are considered essential to fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.

The letter also stated that industry agrees with world leaders that “nobody is safe, until everyone is safe” and is proud of how many companies have mobilized and shifted resources to help meet this challenge.

In addition to USCIB, the letter was signed by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, BusinessEurope, the Federation of Korean Industries, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Global Innovation Policy Center.

Educate to Vaccinate Event Promotes COVID-19 Global Workplace Challenge

Anuradha Gupta of Gavi

Update: a recording of the event is now available! (Passcode: %@vyo7?f)

Following the launch of The USCIB Foundation’s Business Partners to CONVINCE (BP2C) initiative and the initiative’s COVID-19 Global Workplace Challenge, the group held its first major event “Educate to Vaccinate: The Role of Employers” on April 29. The event brought together global public health and business experts, small and medium companies from around the globe, international employer organizations, and other stakeholders, to discuss actionable workplace strategies for vaccine adoption and the vital role employers can play in educating their employees on the facts about COVID-19 vaccines and motivating – not mandating – the workforce to get vaccinated.

“What better example of the transformative power of science, policy, business and society working together than the response to the pandemic,” said USCIB Executive Vice President Abby Shapiro, who leads BP2C. “Working with three of the world’s largest business networks including the ICC, IOE and Business at OECD to mobilize their business networks, BP2C will reach millions of workers with information and tools to combat misinformation and inspire confidence in vaccination. Keeping employees safe is not only the right thing to do, but also the way forward to a healthy, vaccine-literate workforce.”

Notable speakers at the “Educate to Vaccinate” event included GAVI Deputy Chief Executive Anuradha Gupta, Meredith Flynn-Ripley (Salesforce), Dr. Vicki Weldon (ExxonMobil), Julia Spencer (MSD), as well as public health experts: Larry Gostin (Georgetown University), Heidi Larson (The Vaccine Confidence Project and the CONVINCE initiative), Dr. Scott Ratzan (CUNY School of Public Health and BP2C), and Nancy Lee (Global Health and CONVINCE). Senior international business network representatives included Ali Karami-Ruiz from Business at OECD, Roberto Suárez Santos of the International Organization of Employers (IOE), and Andrew Wilson from the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC).

Participants also heard from companies and organizations across the globe that have already signed up to take the Workplace Challenge including Randstad North America, the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the American Staffing Association, and dozens of other companies and organizations around the globe.

“We encourage everyone to take the Workplace Challenge and, by doing so, showcase their commitment to educating their employees,” added Shapiro.

What are you waiting for? Sign up now for The Workplace Challenge!

Business Partners to CONVINCE (BP2C) is the private sector arm of the global, multisector CONVINCE (COVID-19 New Vaccine Information, Communication, and Engagement) initiative that advances vaccine literacy and promotes vaccine acceptance.

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.

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.

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.”