Annual International Labor Parliament Discusses Biohazards, Care Economy, and Fundamental Rights

USCIB President and CEO Whitney Baird (left) and Head of US Employer Delegation to the ILC Ewa Staworzynska (right), with newly elected IOE President and Executive Director of Kenyan Employers and the Societe Generale (SG) of Business Africa Jackie Mugo (center).  

The annual International Labour Conference (ILC), also called the international labor parliament, has ended its two–week deliberations in Geneva. This year’s agenda included a new international labor standard on biohazards in the working environment, a discussion on decent work in the care economy, and a discussion on fundamental principles and rights at work. USCIB, as the US employer representative to the International Labour Organization (ILO), led the US business community’s participation, with a record large delegation. 

The ILC is the only moment during the year where more than 5000 social partners – workers, employers, and governments – meet at the ILO to negotiate labor standards and discuss international labor policy. In addition, as part of the ILO supervisory mechanism, delegates discuss country cases pertaining to the application of ratified ILO standards. The two policy discussions – on care economy and fundamental principles and rights at work – ended with sets of consensus-based conclusions, despite, at times, challenging negotiations. The negotiation on the new labor standard on biological hazards concluded its first out of two sittings, and the standard is shaping up to be a Convention (binding) and a Recommendation (non-binding). 

USCIB President and CEO, Whitney Baird, participated in the ILC and the IOE General Council, the annual meeting of IOE member federations. Federations discussed the challenges faced globally amidst geopolitical tensions and what is needed to ensure a strong business voice in global policymaking. 

The ILO Governing Body also went through elections, and Tom Mackall, USCIB Senior Counsel, was re-elected as a member of the Governing Body. 

As part of the ILC, the ILO inaugurated its Global Coalition for Social Justice, the Director-General’s flagship initiative, with participants from around the world, including President Lula of Brazil. The US is one of the few countries that has tripartite representation in the Global Coalition.  

The ILO also took the opportunity to convene a consultation with the co-facilitators of the forthcoming World Summit for Social Development. The employer community underscored the need for strong involvement of social partners both in the process leading up to the Summit and during the negotiations of the forthcoming Political Declaration.  

“The ILC is a major highlight of the year for us. Thanks to the unique tripartite nature of the ILO, the ILC is the only multilateral negotiation that gives a direct voice and vote to employers. US companies are actively participating, ensuring policy outcomes that consider the realities faced by global businesses,” said Ewa Staworzynska, Head of US Employer Delegation to the ILC. 

New Standard on Biohazards Negotiated at the ILC

Left to Right: Fabio Moraes, Head of North America Occupational Health & Industrial Hygiene, Bayer; Maria Isabel Maya Rubio, Spain Employers; Jose Arroyo, USCIB Policy Manager; and Stefanie Evans-Cypher, Senior Associate General Counsel, Walmart.

This year, the International Labour Conference (ILC), the international labor parliament that convenes business, unions, and governments from ILO Member States, completed the first negotiation on a new international labor standard on protections against biological hazards in the working environment, which will likely be a legally binding Convention, supplemented by a Recommendation. USCIB, as the sole US employer representative, played a key role in shaping the discussions in Geneva.   

The US Employers’ delegation was instrumental in the first year of a two-year negotiation for the new standard-setting. US companies such as Amazon, Bayer, Littler and Walmart, led by USCIB Policy Manager Jose Arroyo, provided substantive analysis and encouraged a strategic approach throughout the negotiations. We prevented the inclusion of language that would have burdened US businesses’ operations worldwide.  

“We have a lot of work to do for next year, but I feel confident that we – employers – established some clear lines of what could be included in the potential convention and what could not,” said Arroyo.  

However, while the spirit of constructive work and consensus-building was present during the sessions, the negotiations with workers’ representatives and governments were challenging. There are important and concerning topics for employers to consider for next year, especially related to the definitions and scope of biological hazards, as well as the necessary distinction between public health national policies and occupational safety and health standards. 

The text remains complex for companies and employers and the outcome will likely be an overly prescriptive legally binding convention, potentially complicating its ratification by Member States. In the face of these challenges, USCIB will continue to advocate for an implementable convention to ensure a clearer distinction between the responsibilities of public health authorities compared to those of employers. 

 

USCIB Hosts Meeting With Paraguay’s Rodrigo Maluff

On June 3, USCIB was honored to welcome Vice Minister of the Investment and Export Network (REDIEX) of Paraguay’s Ministry of Industry and Commerce (MIC) Rodrigo Maluff to our New York office.  

USCIB’s Senior Vice President for Policy and Global Strategy Norine Kennedy greeted Vice Minister Maluff in person, while USCIB’s Senior Vice President for Trade, Investment and Digital Policy Alice Slayton Clark and Senior Director for Customs and Trade Facilitation Megan Giblin attended online. There was a robust engagement regarding USCIB’s work on ATA Carnet including its digitalization, customs processes and procedures, the trade and investment climate, investor safeguards, data flow issues, and sustainability.  

REDIEX is Paraguay’s Export and Investment Agency. It seeks to increase the presence of Paraguayan products and services in international markets and improve the competitiveness of national exporting companies while also attracting foreign direct investment into Paraguay, promoting the country’s competitive advantages, facilitating the identification of business opportunities, and providing technical advice to potential investors. 

According to Vice Minister Maluff, Paraguay is eager to learn more about the trade and investment priorities of USCIB members vis-a-vis Paraguay and hopes for future engagement with USCIB in this regard.

 

USCIB Represents Global Business at UNFCCC Just Transition Dialogue in Bonn

Agnes Vinblad speaking on behalf of the Global Business & Industry constituency during the UNFCCC Dialogue under the Just Transition Work Programme

On June 2-3 in Bonn, Germany, USCIB’s Director of Environment & Sustainable Development Agnes Vinblad served as one of two formal representatives on behalf of the Global Business & Industry (BINGO) Constituency to the first Dialogue convened under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) United Arab Emirates Just Transition Work Programme (UAE JTWP). The UAE JTWP was established via mandate coming out of COP28 in Dubai. 

The first Dialogue under the UAE JTWP was held under the theme “Just transition pathways to achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement through Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), National Adaptation Plans (NAPs) and Long-term Low Emission Development Strategies (LT-LEDS).” 

The two days were marked by active discussions amongst Parties and Non-Party Stakeholder representatives, exploring best practices and lessons learned in implementing just transition initiatives and frameworks, and identifying support needs for better integration of just transition considerations in Parties next round of NDCs, NAPs and LT-LEDs. 

During the sessions, Vinblad brought forth key points for business when considering just transition: 

“The global business community especially encourages more robust mapping of already existing just transition implementation efforts across the private sector to get a clearer picture of best practices as well as to identify gaps to understand specific support needs; this is especially critical in understanding the needs of micro-small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) in regions most impacted by climate change. Business encourages regional and national partnerships that bring together all stakeholders to work collaboratively towards truly data-driven just transition integration in next round NDCs, NAPs, and LT-LEDS,” said Vinblad. 

“But the most critical point is to ensure that just transition policy measures are truly responsive, rooted in the real economy, considering sector-specific needs, and adapt to local, national and regional circumstances. There is no one-size-fits-all when talking about just transition,” Vinblad continued. 

The first Dialogue under the JTWP was convened during the SB60 pre-sessional in the days prior to the formal start of the UNFCCC Bonn Climate Change Conference (SB60). SB60 is scheduled for June 3 – 13, where Vinblad will engage in continued negotiations on just transition, along with other key priority items for USCIB members, such as matters pertaining to climate finance, carbon markets, adaptation, and mitigation. 

WSIS+20 Forum High Level Event and AI for Good Global Summit 2024

USCIB’s Cheryl Miller speaks at a session on Internet Governance and the GDC with the Internet Governance Forum

From May 27 to 31, the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS)+20 Forum High-Level Event 2024 convened in Geneva, Switzerland, in conjunction with the AI for Good Global Summit 2024 and the United Nations’ (UN) first AI Governance Day.

More than 8,000 participants from 160 countries reflected upon the impact of the WSIS in Geneva in 2003 and then Tunis in 2005, while discussing how to make further progress on the WSIS action lines and sustainable development goals (SDGs).

The High-Level Event was co-hosted by the Swiss Confederation (CH) and the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), and co-organized by ITU; the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO); the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Trade and Development (UNCTAD). The CH chaired the event, which featured 14 High-Level talks and over 200 sessions.

Stakeholders from across the globe reaffirmed that the WSIS has been a success, and that the future of AI and other digital advancements will require multistakeholder cooperation in policymaking to enhance inclusivity and meaningful participation. They noted that AI will complicate the existing digital divide, and that a lack of connectivity in many areas remains a global challenge.

In addition to infrastructure, increased capacity building is needed to foster the development of digital skills, and in particular, institutional capacity development. Participants spoke about how “Digital for the benefit of all” remains the main goal of the WSIS and pledged their support for the renewal of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF).

Find more information on WSIS here.

USCIB Participates in Global Digital Compact Consultation

On May 20, USCIB participated in a consultation on the Global Digital Compact (GDC), organized by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC). 

USCIB’s Vice President for Digital Policy Cheryl Miller joined Swedish Permanent Representative to the United Nations Anna Karin Eneström and Zambian Permanent Representative to the United Nations Chola Milambo. 

USCIB highlighted strong points and encouraged the drafters to align the human rights language with the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) to strengthen the language regarding multistakeholder participation while also discussing the concern over the new language on data governance and AI.  

Miller also provided an intervention on May 21 at the Stakeholder Consultation.  

“Overall, the Revision One Draft improves upon the Zero Draft, and business appreciates the opportunity to continue to help strengthen the GDC,” said Miller. 

USCIB Foundation and USCIB’s Moving the Needle Initiative Host Roundtable “Navigating the UN Summit of the Future and Beyond with Business”

Participants at “Navigating the UN Summit of the Future and beyond with Business” in New York

On May 15, The USCIB Foundation and USCIB’s MTN Initiative convened government, UN and business leaders in New York for a discussion of how to ensure that the private sector can collaborate with the UN to tackle several challenges facing the international community. 

The event, called “Navigating the UN Summit of the Future and beyond with Business,” asked tough questions and inspired new ideas to help mobilize business engagement on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and to strengthen the UN through business expertise and partnerships. 

Opening remarks were delivered by USCIB Board member, Chris Sharrock, Vice President of United Nations and International Organizations at Microsoft; Archie Young, Ambassador to the General Assembly at the UK Mission to the UN; and Jake Sherman, Minister Counselor, UN Management and Reform at US Mission to the UN. 

The business community must play a substantive role in the multilateral system beyond funding initiatives. Participants discussed enabling frameworks for businesses of every sector to advance innovative solutions through and with the UN system, while accelerating action by governments and society. During the roundtable, practical examples were presented by Salesforce, Novonesis, Exxonmobil and other USCIB members. “Working with the United Nations is in USCIB’s DNA – with this year’s ambitious Summit of the Future ahead in September, we are leaning into the UN’s efforts, openness, and willingness to involve and work with business,” said Norine Kennedy, USCIB’s Senior Vice President for Policy and Global Strategy.

Results of Section 301 Review Announced

The Biden Administration issued on Monday the results of its 4-year review of the Section 301 action taken against China intellectual property (IP) practices and will raise tariffs rather than provide tariff relief. Targeted for higher duties are $18 billion in green, technology, steel, and medical supply imports.

While USCIB remains wholly committed to US efforts to confront unfair Chinese trade practices, we remain concerned about the implications of ratcheting up a tariff war that has done more harm than good. Of significant disappointment, the review yielded no cuts in the current Section 301 tariffs, despite earlier hope of some duty relief to better target the 301 action and help tame costs.

According to White House and USTR press releases, tariff actions respond not only to unfair Chinese practices with respect to IP and forced technology practices but also to non-market economy policies that spur overcapacity and export surges. The report details the limited impact of the 301 actions on China’s IP violations, the impact of the tariff actions on the US economy and the proposed modifications.

To bolster US production, the report also recommends establishing a product exclusion process geared at machinery used in domestic manufacturing and advancing 19 exclusions linked with certain solar manufacturing equipment. We are grateful for an exclusion process but are concerned that the list continues to narrow. USTR will issue a Federal Register notice next week seeking public comments on this exclusion proposal and, presumably it will provide details on the tariff lines impacted by the action today. We will review the notice to see where there may be opportunity for USCIB to comment.

For more information, contact Alice Slayton Clark at asclark@uscib.org.

USCIB Hosts Members of the UK Parliament and Policy Leaders from the Coalition for Global Prosperity

USCIB with members of the UK Parliament and policy leaders from the Coalition for Global Prosperity.

On May 10, USCIB hosted a breakfast conversation with Members of the UK Parliament (MP) and policy leaders from the Coalition for Global Prosperity. The discussion covered the transatlantic trade and investment landscape, the emergence of industrial policies and the role of the free market, the importance of regulatory coherence, boosting US-UK trade relations and support for a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA), and reflections on the various UK-US state-level FTAs.  

The conversation included (from left to right): Lois Toole, Senior Policy & Programme Manager at the Coalition for Global Prosperity; Dr. Kieran Mullan, MP for Crewe and Nantwich and PPS to the Home Office team; Stephen Kinnock, MP for Aberavon and Shadow Minister for Immigration; Sam Tarry, MP for Ilford South; Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi, MP for Slough and Shadow Minister for Exports; Whitney Baird, USCIB President and CEO; Rick Johnston, Chair of Business at OECD, Chair of USCIB’s Trade and Investment Committee, and Managing Director, Global Government Affairs, Citigroup; Sarah Schradin, Vice President, Government Affairs at Chubb; and Alice Slayton Clark, USCIB Senior Vice President of Trade, Investment and Digital Policy.  

2024 OECD USCIB International Tax Conference Speakers Announced

USCIB President & CEO Whitney Baird at the 2023 Tax Conference

The 2024 OECD USCIB International Tax Conference takes place in June 2024 and features panels and keynotes including tax officials from OECD and G20 governments and tax executives from major multinational companies.

Featured speakers include:

  • Director, OECD Centre for Tax Policy and Administration (CPTA) Manal Corwin
  • Deputy Director, OECD CTPA Achim Pross
  • Acting Head of the Cross Border and International Tax Division, OECD CTPA John Peterson
  • Associate Chief Counsel, International, Internal Revenue Service, US Treasury Peter Blessing
  • Global Tax Policy Leader, EY Barbara Angus
  • Managing Director, Deloitte Bob Stack
  • Partner, KPMG Michael Plowgian
  • Deputy Assistant Secretary (International Tax Affairs), US Treasury Scott Levine

The full conference agenda can be found at: 2024 OECD USCIB International Tax Conference | June 24, 2024 – June 25, 2024 (uscibtax.org)