USCIB Releases Statement Supporting World Day Against Trafficking in Persons

July 30, 2022, New York, NY — The United States Council for International Business (USCIB) joins the global community in recognizing World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, held annually on July 30. 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 supply chains.

We welcome this year’s theme, “Use and abuse of technology.” This theme focuses on the role of technology as a tool that can both enable and impede human trafficking. With the global expansion in the use of technology – intensified by the COVID-19 pandemic and the shift of our everyday life to online platforms — the crime of human trafficking has conquered cyber space. The internet and other digital platforms offer traffickers numerous tools to recruit, exploit and control victims; organize their transport and accommodation; advertise victims and reach out to potential clients; communicate among perpetrators; and hide criminal proceeds – and all that with greater speed, cost-effectiveness and anonymity.

The U.S. Department of State released the 2022 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report, which highlights the efforts, successes and deficiencies of 188 countries to combat and prevent human trafficking. The scale of the problem continues to be vast, as nearly twenty-five million people are currently victims of trafficking.  With an estimated thirty million victims worldwide at any given time, human traffickers prey on adults and children of all ages, backgrounds and nationalities, exploiting them for their own profit. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken gave remarks at the Report Launch Ceremony and highlighted the work of the twenty-one countries that were upgraded for their accomplishments. The Secretary also regretted the inaction, or even sponsorship, of eighteen nations that were downgraded. The report concludes that government corruption continues to be a top tool for traffickers.

USCIB commends the twenty U.S. agencies of the National Action Plan to Combat Human Traffickingin their efforts tackle this crisis.

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 International Labor Organization (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.

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.

Temperatures Soared in Geneva and So Did the WTO!

Washington D.C., June 17, 2022—Despite a shaky start, the WTO negotiators delivered a historic trade deal this morning. After hours of negotiations, the 164-country organization adopted the “Geneva Package” with commitments on some very difficult issues, including pandemic response, intellectual property, fisheries, food security, electronic commerce and institutional reform.

For many, this Ministerial was about the continued viability of the WTO. Recent struggles caused by increased protectionism and previous Ministerial Conferences that created few – if any – outcomes, raised serious questions about the rules-based trading system that grew out of the GATT in 1995. Concerns have ranged from relevance to functionality to value.

The WTO adoption of a ministerial decision to waive intellectual property rights on COVID-19 vaccines raises serious questions and presents a number of risks. This waiver under the WTO TRIPs Agreement will not solve vaccine access issues but, rather, it brings dangerous implications on incentives for innovation for future health challenges and future pandemic preparedness and response.  As disappointing and counter-productive as this decision is, business continues to work to advance vaccine literacy and fight COVID-19.

The Ministerial Statement on WTO Reform has charted a path forward for the trade body that is expected to address longstanding concerns and set a process for discussions on how the WTO can be reformed to be fit for purpose.

The “Geneva Package” covers a range of topics. A group of Ministerial Declarations was adopted on WTO response to emergencies covering food insecurity; export prohibitions on World Food Programme food purchases; and WTO pandemic response and preparedness.

A partial deal to curb fishing subsidies was reached; however, it fell short of a fuller agreement that has been under negotiation for more than 20 years. The agreement addresses rules to prohibit subsidies for illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, while action on subsidies for fuel, ship construction and other areas was left unresolved.

Negotiators wrestled to address divergent views on the continuation of a moratorium on customs duties on electronic transmissions that has been in place since 1998 but was set to expire at the end of the ministerial. A handful of countries challenged the benefits of the digital economy for the developing world, seeking to end the moratorium, gain policy space to address the digital divide and collect needed customs revenues. Ultimately, delegates agreed to an extension of the moratorium with a commitment to study development impacts and revisit the issue at the next Ministerial Conference.

“USCIB congratulates WTO Director General Ngozi and all participants in MC12 for proving that multilateralism is alive and still functional in Geneva,” said Brian Lowry, USCIB Senior Vice President, who is reporting from Geneva at the ministerial meeting as an NGO delegate.

Several concerns about agriculture went without resolution. “The lack of a declaration on these concerns was a disappointment to some but the overall success of MC12 is noteworthy,” said Lowry.

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. USCIB is the U.S. affiliate of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), the International Organization of Employers (IOE) and Business at OECD. More at www.uscib.org.

USCIB Calls on International Community to Fight for Human Rights of LGBTQI+ Individuals

June 1, 2022, New York, NY — On occasion of Pride Month this month, the United States Council for International Business (USCIB) re-emphasizes its committment to fight for LGBTQI+ equality and inclusion throughout the year. As stated in Article 1 of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights, “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” USCIB and its members are committed to treating all individuals with dignity, respect and equity and call on the international community to fight for the human rights of LGBTQI+ individuals around the world.

In her statement for Pride Month, United States Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield pointed out that, “The struggle to end violence, discrimination, criminalization, and stigma against LGBTQI+ persons is a global challenge that deserves a global response. LGBTQI+ status or conduct is still criminalized in more than 70 countries or territories, and many individuals continue to face discrimination, harassment, and violence at work, at school and in public accommodations.”

According to the United Nations’ Global Campaign against Homophobia and Transphobia, more than a third of the world’s countries criminalize consensual, loving, same-sex relationships, entrenching prejudice and putting millions of people at risk of blackmail, arrest and imprisonment. In July 2013, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) launched UN Free & Equal – an unprecedented global UN public information campaign aimed at promoting equal rights and fair treatment of LGBTI people.

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.

USCIB Calls for Elimination of Child Labor, Calls on Governments to Invest in Rule of Law

June 12, 2022, New York, NY  — On this World Day Against Child Labor, the United States 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 child labor.

Many of our affiliates and partnerships work on combating child labor through their work in monitoring and developing best practices. The U.S. Department of State also monitors and reports on child labor in their annual Human Rights Report and Trafficking in Persons Report and contributes to the Department of Labor’s annual Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor. Similarly, the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Mineral Supply Chains identifies the worst forms of child labor as a serious human rights abuse associated with the extraction, transport or trade of minerals that companies should not tolerate, profit from, contribute to, assist with or facilitate in the course of doing business.

This year the International Labor Organization (ILO) hosted its 5th Global Conference on the Elimination of Child Labor where delegates agreed that the Durban Call to Action include strong commitments on action against child labor while raising concerns that existing progress has slowed and is now threatened by the COVID-19 pandemic, armed conflict, as well as food, environmental and humanitarian crises.

Despite universal ratification of ILO Convention 182 on the Worst Forms of Child Labor, there remains an unacceptable 152 million children in child labor, 72 million of which are in hazardous work. Out of the 24.9 million people trapped in forced labor, a quarter of the victims of modern slavery are children. One child is too many. Therefore, the private sector calls on governments to invest in rule of law and stands ready to partner with governments, academia, civil society and the public to reinvigorate efforts to achieve SDG Target 8.7 in order 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 (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.

USCIB Provides Business Recommendations During ‘Our Common Agenda’ Consultation at UN Headquarters

Peter Robinson at the United Nations HQ in NY

USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson was invited as a speaker for the fifth and final Informal Thematic Consultation on the United Nations report Our Common Agenda (OCA) on March 11 under the theme Enhancing International Cooperation. Representing USCIB, Robinson attended the consultation in person at the UN Headquarters in New York. 

In his remarks, Robinson referenced a quote by UN Secretary General António Guterres on how the international community currently is facing a momentous choice: will we “break through or break down?”  

“This question is even more urgent in light of recent disruptive events,” said Robinson. “Can the multilateral system survive these challenges? For business, the answer must be yes. Moreover, the private sector is part of the support structure needed to restore and strengthen the multilateral system and realize Our Common Agenda’s vision of more inclusive international cooperation.”

Robinson then went on to express gratitude to USCIB’s partners in the global business community, “When it comes to international cooperation, our focus here today, USCIB is privileged to be part of global leading business groups dedicated to working with the multilateral system – ICC, IOE and BIAC.” 

Highlighting business recommendations to the UN in taking forward the proposals set out in the OCA, Robinson advocated for the need to regard business and employers’ organizations as essential attributes of democratic and inclusive governance in both national and international settings and the critical need to crowd in and mainstream public-private sector partnerships.  

“Let me close with what might at first sound like a provocative statement: there can no longer be any conflict of interest between the private sector and the UN,” added Robinson. “Time and again, whether in response to the pandemic, or in unprecedented support for the Paris Agreement, or in humanitarian responses to help refugees, the private sector has leaned into international cooperation for our shared interests. Let us pursue the OCA’s opportunities through inclusive practical multilateralism, involving business, for the UN we want and need.” 

The President of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) Abdulla Shahid has convened five informal thematic consultations on the landmark UN report, Our Common Agenda (OCA), released by Guterres in September 2021. Through a five-part series of consultations, commencing with the first one in February 2022, Member States and other stakeholders, including the private sector, have been given the opportunity to discuss the proposals outlined in the OCA and their potential implementation in the Decade of Action.  

To find more information on Our Common Agenda, please visit this website.  

USCIB Statement on Russia Conflict in Ukraine

New York, N.Y., February 24, 2022 – As conflict tragically unfolds in Ukraine, USCIB joins President Biden in denouncing the shocking attack by Russia on a sovereign nation and on the global rules-based order. USCIB deplores the impact of this aggression on innocent people, and the destabilization and disruption it brings in its wake. We are more committed than ever to the fundamental importance of peace and security, democracy and multilateral cooperation for American business and for the international community.

We fully agree with UN Secretary General António Guterres when he urgently called for “a ceasefire and return to the path of dialogue and negotiations to save the people in Ukraine and beyond from the scourge of war.”

We are sharing the “ICC Statement on Russia – Ukraine Conflict” issued this morning by ICC Secretary General John Denton, and the setting out of ICC’s next steps to assess and address potential economic and trade disruption. We will continue to keep members apprised of further developments.

USCIB Supports Strengthening Trade, Investment, Economic Ties in Indo-Pacific

USCIB was among a dozen other trade associations in submitting a letter to the Biden Administration welcoming the launch of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) initiative as part of the government’s Indo-Pacific strategy. USCIB’s engagement on the letter was led by USCIB Trade and Investment Committee Chair, Rick Johnston.

The letter stated: “We agree that strengthening trade, investment and economic ties with the region benefits all Americans. The United States needs an affirmative agenda with allies and key partners in the Indo-Pacific to advance shared economic and strategic interests. The United States, as well as our allies and key trading partners, would benefit most from an ambitious and comprehensive IPEF initiative with enforceable commitments, new market opportunities, and wide adoption of high standards.”

“It is critical that U.S. industry voices its support for Biden Administration leadership in engaging this important region of the world,” said USCIB Director for Investment, Trade and China Alice Slayton Clark.

According to the letter, the Indo-Pacific already accounts for $1.75 trillion in trade with the United States and thirty percent of U.S. goods and services exports, supporting millions of American jobs.

USCIB Statement on the Summit for Democracy

Washington D.C., December 13, 2021—The United States Council for International Business (USCIB) welcomes the recent Summit for Democracy and reaffirms our long-standing support for the critical importance of democracy and rule of law as foundational pillars of well-functioning and inclusive societies.

We agree, as the Biden Administration rightly stated, “that both history and overwhelming data show that societies that respect and defend democratic institutions, the rule of law, human rights and fundamental freedoms, and gender equality are more stable, prosperous, secure and better equipped to confront global challenges.”

“Businesses are key actors in democratic societies, contributing to civic and economic empowerment of people and public institutions, while advancing growth and equality,” said USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson. “Importantly, business and employer membership organizations are themselves democratic institutions and a core part of the fabric of democratic societies.”

USCIB advocates for good governance, rule of law, anti-corruption and anti-bribery frameworks and other measures of responsible governance, as being among the required elements of the enabling environments for trade and investment that bring growth and opportunity. Indeed, UN Sustainable Development Goal 16 “Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions,” makes clear the key role that governance and the rule of law play in promoting peaceful, just and inclusive societies and in ensuring sustainable development.

As the U.S. affiliate of the International Chamber of CommerceBusiness at OECD (BIAC) and the International Organization of Employers, USCIB joins with global business and employer peers in advocating these policies in international policy fora, including the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the International Labor Organization (ILO), and the United Nations. As an example, we note in particular USCIB’s engagement through BIAC to support the recent successful launch of the OECD Public Integrity Indicators Portal and the 2021 Recommendation for Further Combatting Bribery of Foreign Officials.

Finally, USCIB and its members reiterate their firm belief that alongside national rule of law and good governance, based on democratic principles, multilateral cooperation is the single most powerful vehicle to achieve an inclusive and sustainable path to dealing with the enormity of the challenges facing society today. Business is a necessary voice in that effort, and USCIB will continue our work to engage meaningfully and constructively as a leading actor at home and within the multilateral organizational system to advance democratic principles and rule of law.

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.

USCIB Commemorates Human Rights Day and Universal Declaration of Human Rights

USCIB dedicates its 2021 Human Rights Day statement to the memory of Professor John Ruggie, a human rights champion and visionary behind the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

New York, N.Y., December 10, 2021 — On the occasion of Human Rights Day today, the United States Council for International Business (USCIB) issued the following statement:

USCIB joins with the global community today in commemorating the seventy-third Human Rights Day. On this day in 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), which clarifies the inalienable rights that everyone is entitled to, as a human being – regardless of race, color, religion, sex, language, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Human rights protections extend to LGBTIQ people too.

Human rights remain a timeless priority and USCIB especially welcomes the theme chosen for 2021: Equality – Reducing Inequalities, Advancing Human Rights. Article 1 of the UDHR states that “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” Yet, in far too many places in the world, discrimination and inequality persists and hinders individuals from full and equal participation in society. Fighting discrimination and inequality requires redoubling our shared efforts to tackle challenges like deep-rooted forms of discrimination which continue to affect the most vulnerable people in our societies.

We all have a role to play in advancing equality and human rights, and for companies this includes undertaking responsible business practices and working to demonstrate their corporate responsibility to respect human rights as set forth in the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. As we look ahead to the New Year and continued progress towards recovery, USCIB looks forward with optimism for our shared priority – in collaboration with governments, business and civil society – to advance human rights, non-discrimination, prosperity, and inclusion for all.

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.

COP26: US Business States Support for Inclusive Action on Outcomes

The United States Council for International Business commends the strong efforts of the U.S. delegation, the UK Presidency and other governments and stakeholders that were at the United Nations Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow to reach conclusion in key areas for business, overcoming challenging differences of opinion and delivering stepped-up international cooperation on climate change. Real progress has been made across the board, including strengthening Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), prioritizing adaptation, and completing outstanding work on carbon markets. In addition, the U.S. announced significant new global alliances to reduce methane emissions and to combat deforestation.

However, these hard-fought COP26 outcomes demonstrate the need for a new, more ambitious and inclusive phase of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) process after Glasgow.  Keeping 1.5 in reach, mobilizing investment, innovation and finance and driving a just transition for workers and employers can only succeed through partnership and dialogue with key stakeholders, notably the private sector as an engine of growth and investment.

Turning out in record numbers in Glasgow, U.S. business demonstrated its readiness to be part of the solution, through pledges, initiatives and engagement with the Administration, the UNFCCC Marrakesh Action Platform and a host of others.  While the concluding documents of COP26 made disappointingly scant mention of the private sector, USCIB is convinced the meaningful inclusion of business is indispensable to keep 1.5 alive and to ramp up private sector deployment of innovation, resource mobilization and just transition.

USCIB looks forward to further technical work on Article 6.  We urge UNFCCC parties to commit to continued discussions, while engaging the private sector in order to build confidence in how the Article 6 rules will function effectively in the real economy.

USCIB is proud of the actions and thought leadership of its international affiliate organizations, the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and the International Organization of Employers (IOE), bringing the voice of global business and employers to this vital meeting. An inclusive multilateral approach will have to invite and crowd in engagement from all businesses large and small to assist on practical policy design, accelerated action and the economywide effort needed to attain global net zero as soon as possible.

USCIB members are committed to stay the course and make the case for the enabling frameworks inside and outside UNFCCC that converge a sustainable resilient recovery with Paris Agreement commitments.  U.S. business represented by USCIB will continue to play its part to inform increasingly ambitious NDCs and to highlight the need to engage business expertise in the Global Stocktake.  As declared in the closing statement for business groups at COP26, USCIB agrees that business has “a key role and responsibility to push for effective collective action at COP and at home. We can, we must, and we will accelerate our collective efforts.”

About USCIB: USCIB promotes open markets, competitiveness and innovation, sustainable development and corporate responsibility, supported by international engagement and prudent regulation. Its members include U.S.-based global companies and professional services firms with operations in every region of the world. USCIB has represented U.S. business at the UNFCCC since 1993. Furthermore, as the U.S. affiliate of leading international business organizations and as the sole U.S. business group with standing in ECOSOC, USCIB provides business views to policy makers and regulatory authorities worldwide, and works to facilitate international trade and investment. More at www.uscib.org.