G20 Trade Ministers Release Statement on COVID-19

The G20 Trade Ministers met virtually on March 30 amid the COVID-19 pandemic to discuss stepping up cooperation and coordination to protect human life and lay the foundations for a strong economic recovery and a sustainable, balanced and inclusive growth after the crisis. Following the meeting, the Trade Ministers posted a statement.

The statement emphasized: “As we fight the pandemic both individually and collectively and seek to mitigate its impacts on international trade and investment, we will continue to work together to deliver a free, fair, non-discriminatory, transparent, predictable and stable trade and investment environment, and to keep our markets open.”

USCIB Senior Vice President Rob Mulligan noted the significance of all G20 members being able to agree on this statement as a much-needed coordinated response to the crisis and is hopeful that governments will soon follow up with more specific action items they will implement to keep trade open and facilitate the flow of essential goods for dealing with the COVID-19 crisis.

In advance of the G20 Trade Ministers meeting, the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) sent a letter from its Secretary General John Denton, which included ten concrete actions that trade ministers can take now to speed up the health response for COVID-19 and minimize the economic damage.  It also included points on the need to maintain momentum on World Trade Organization (WTO) reform and e-commerce negotiations.

USCIB Concerned Over Draft “Buy American” Executive Order

USCIB joined a broad group of national trade associations, as well as state and local organizations, to send a letter to U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Steven T. Mnuchin, U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Wilbur Ross and the National Economic Council’s Lawrence Kudlow expressing concern over the Administration’s draft “Buy American” executive order.

The group believes that such an order could be counterproductive in the Administration’s ongoing efforts with American allies to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and warns that the order may delay the discovery of a COVID-19 vaccine and other treatments, worsen shortages of critically-needed medicines and medical products, and undermine prospects for economic recovery.

The letter states: “Now more than ever, U.S. industries require access to international supply chains to produce critically-needed medical products. The United States simply does not produce all of the raw materials or intermediate goods that are essential to drug development or production of the medical equipment needed to thwart this pandemic. Preventing federal agencies from sourcing medical equipment and pharmaceutical ingredients from abroad — or that are made with non U.S. inputs — would only exacerbate the supply shortages racking the United States.”

The coalition also applauded the Administration’s focused response to the pandemic and emphasized that American companies will do whatever it takes to support America’s pandemic response and will continue to work hand in glove with government to get the job done.

USCIB’s Donnelly Retires; Will Take on a Consulting Role 

Shaun Donnelly

Vice President for Investment Policy and Financial Services Shaun Donnelly is retiring April 3 after eight and half years at USCIB.

Donnelly came to USCIB in 2011, after an impressive 36-year career as a Department of State Foreign Service Officer followed by shorter stints at two other leading Washington trade associations. Throughout his time at USCIB, Donnelly has been a leading voice for the U.S. and international business communities on a wide range of investment policy issues, speaking out forcefully and publicly, as well as privately, to the U.S. Administration, Congress and in international fora, from the OECD and World Trade Organization (WTO) to the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the UN Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL).

Donnelly has also been a sought-after and a provocative speaker at investment conferences and seminars around Washington and around the globe.  But most importantly, Donnelly has always been willing and able to put his experience, his expertise and his rolodex to use to assist USCIB members, collectively and individually.

“It has been a real privilege to have Shaun as part of the USCIB team, and I’m delighted that he will continue on in an advisory role,” said USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson. “Shaun is a global regulatory diplomat par excellence, never hesitating to stand up for private sector interests in a forceful, rational and compelling way.”

In the State Department’s Foreign Service, Donnelly served eight years as a Deputy Assistant Secretary of State (DAS) in the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs, at various times leading policy on Trade, Energy and Economic sanctions.  For almost five of those years he was the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, the Department’s #3 economic policy official. Donnelly also served as U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka and Maldives and as Deputy Ambassador to Tunisia and Mali. In his final U.S. government assignment, Donnelly was detailed to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) as Assistant USTR in charge of Europe and the Middle East, running USTR’s largest regional office.  He retired from the Foreign Service with the personal rank of Career Minister, roughly equivalent to that of three-star general.

“Simply put, it’s time,” Donnelly said.  “It’s been a great run and I have really appreciated the opportunity to work with so many great colleagues at USCIB and in our member companies.”

For us at USCIB, the good news is that Donnelly has agreed to stay on in a consulting role, serving as a senior advisor to Robinson and USCIB Senior Vice President for Policy and Government Affairs Rob Mulligan, as well as to take on a few special projects.

“I look forward to staying involved behind the scenes with USCIB and helping where I can,” said Donnelly. “It’s a great organization and there is still a lot of important, challenging work to do.”

COVID-19 Responses: Our Global Network

USCIB is pleased to share the work being done related to COVID-19 across the world by our global network. For information on what USCIB member companies are doing to curb the impacts of COVID-19, visit our dedicated Member Responses page.

Table of Contents:

International Chamber of Commerce (ICC)
International Organization of Employers (IOE)
Business at OECD
Intergovernmental Forums

International Chamber of Commerce (ICC)

Latest ICC News and Statements on COVID-19:

  • ICC launched a new global campaign, #SaveOurSMEs, to help Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) survive the COVID-19 pandemic. In a co-signed message to the ICC network, ICC Secretary General John Denton and ICC World Chambers Federation (WCF) Chair Hamad Buamim called on the ICC network to widely share the  ‘SOS’ Call to Action and engage with media using these campaign key messages.
  • While recognizing the essential role the private sector can play in minimizing the likelihood of transmission, a joint ICC-WHO statement calls on national governments to adopt a whole-of-government and whole-of-society approach in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, and underscores the urgency for Heads of State and Government to make preventing the spread of the virus a top priority.

Recordings and presentations of recent virtual sessions:

  • ICC’s educational arm, the ICC Academy, will be hosting a series of livecasts and webinars on COVID-19 in the coming weeks, free of charge. As part of the COVID-19 response, the series will focus on three core areas: healtheconomy, and at a later stage: recovery.

International Organization of Employers (IOE)

The COVID-19 pandemic is causing significant disruption, threatening millions of lives and livelihoods.

IOE is mobilizing its network to provide information on business and employer organizations’ efforts to support members with safety and health measures,  preventive actions to minimize disruption to productivity, strategies for mitigation of financial losses, and overview of government initiatives to reduce economic stress on business.

IOE is providing information based on regions (Americas, Africa, Asia, Europe and Central Asia), virtual conferences, and key documents from its global network. For more general information visit IOE’s dedicated page on COVID-19.

Latest IOE News and Statements on COVID-19:

  • The IOE and the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) and their constituents stand in solidarity with governments and underline the critical need for social dialogue at national and multilateral levels to design measures to overcome the impact of COVID-19. The two organizations have released a joint statementwhich contains several call of action points on business continuity, income security, social dialogue, policy coordination and coherence. The statement also notes that the 2019 ILO Centenary Declaration for the Future of Work contains critical elements.

Recordings and presentations of recent virtual sessions:

Business at OECD

Business at OECD (BIAC) believes it is now more important than ever that the OECD delivers the best policy advice both on short-term collective response measures, as well as the longer-term recovery plans that will soon need to be implemented. The extensive experience of the OECD, from its origins emerging from the Marshall Plan implementation to the 2008-2009 global financial crisis, makes the organization a unique forum to help governments achieve an effective balance between the health and economic needs of society. Evidence-based analysis, enhanced best practice sharing and improved coordinated collective actions will prove decisive.

Initial OECD analysis on COVID-19:

For more information on what the OECD and Business at OECD (BIAC) are doing related to COVID-19, please visit their website: http://biac.org/coronavirus/.


Intergovernmental Forums (IGOs)

United Nations

  • The United Nations published a report titled “Shared Responsibility, Global Solidarity: Responding to the socio-economic impacts of COVID-19“. The report is a call to action, for the immediate health response required to suppress transmission of the virus to end the pandemic and to tackle the many social and economic dimensions of this crisis. It is a call to focus on people – women, youth, low-wage workers, small and medium enterprises, the informal sector and on vulnerable groups who are already at risk. Pages 6-7 of the report features a section on “Businesses and Corporations: Step Up to the Challenge
  • USCIB’s biweekly memo on “Business at the UN” flags events and decision points relevant to members, passes on intelligence and indicates next steps for business-relevant UN workstreams. If you would like to receive the memo, please contact: Claudia Herbert Colfer (ccolfer@uscib.org).

Virtual ICANN Meeting Focuses on Domain Name System Abuse

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the International Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) held its first virtual meeting, March 7-12. The week-long meeting was originally scheduled to take place in Cancun, Mexico and gather thousands of participants. According to USCIB Vice President for ICT Policy Barbara Wanner, who participated virtually, “Although the virtual format did not enable the face-to-face engagement that constitutes the ‘ICANN DNA,’ in ICANN President Goran Marby’s words, ICANN 67 nevertheless enabled the stakeholder community to engage in discussions on a prioritized set of domain names system (DNS) issues and move forward current work-streams.”

In particular, ICANN’s Business Constituency (BC), of which Wanner serves as representative to the Commercial Stakeholder Group (CSG) and which also includes several USCIB members, reiterated acute concerns expressed at ICANN 66 about inaction by ICANN Org and the contracted parties in mitigating domain name system (DNS) abuse that escalates by the day. ICANN insisted that it expects registry operators to enforce their agreements with registrars prohibiting DNS abuse, but current contractual language does not enable it to “enforce this expectation.”

By the meeting’s end, ICANN Compliance had agreed to facilitate dialogue between the BC and registries/registrars about possible contractual amendments or other mechanisms that would better enable the contracted parties and ICANN to go after the chronic bad actors, estimated to be between fifteen and twenty.

Also related to DNS Abuse, members of the Commercial Stakeholders Group (CSG) pressed ICANN to resume implementation of the policy outcomes of the Working Group for Privacy and Proxy Services Accreditation Issues (PPSAI). ICANN suspended this work on grounds that it needed to determine how the Expedited Policy Development Process (EPDP) relating to publication of DNS registration data  would affect the PPSAI’s previous work. In the meantime, as several CSG members noted, bad actors have been abusing proxy services offered by registrars, which originally were designed to protect the privacy of legitimate domain name users.

Finally, the ICANN community had many questions for members of the ICANN Board about their role in vetting the Public Interest Registry’s (PIR) sale to private equity firm Ethos Capital. The $1.135 billion deal would put a for-profit company in charge of a domain (.org) that generally has been assigned to non-profit entities.

USCIB and Business Fights Poverty Host Virtual Session on COVID-19 Business Impact

How can business best deal with the COVID-19 challenge? In an effort to answer this critical question, USCIB partnered with Business Fights Poverty (BFP) to host an online “challenge” discussion on March 19. USCIB Vice President for Innovation and Product Policy Mike Michener was on the panel, joined by USCIB policy staff and representatives of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), the International Organization of Employers (IOE) and Business at OECD.

The USCIB Foundation’s Business Partners for Sustainable Development (BPSD) initiative Executive Director Dr. Scott Ratzan joined BFP’s Co-founder and CEO Zahid Torres-Rahman and Harvard Kennedy School’s Myriam Sidibe for the online discussion, supported by a panel of leading executives from business, civil society, the United Nations and the UK government. The discussion began with an evaluation of the current situation, and the impact on business and others. This was followed by dialogue on the immediate priorities for business, including best practices.  The panel ended by weighing how business can partner with others to support immediate action, and well as longer-term resilience.

Michener said, “We are all in this together, and partnerships are key to solving all of the problems posed by this crisis – health, economic, and protecting the most vulnerable. I appreciated the opportunity to engage in the valuable BFP discussion, and I look forward to continuing the conversation.”

The USCIB Foundation’s program, Business Partnership for Sustainable Development, with Business Fights Poverty.

USCIB Comments on Draft Vertical Merger Guidelines

USCIB submitted comments recently on the Draft Vertical Merger Guidelines announced in January by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).

In the submission, USCIB indicated that members understand the tremendous procompetitive benefits and efficiencies that can be associated with vertical mergers.

“Our members value transparency and predictability in vertical merger enforcement policy and welcome the agencies’ joint effort to clarify the analytic framework and methods they employ to review vertical mergers,” said USCIB Senior Director for Investment, Trade and Financial Services Eva Hampl. “USCIB applauds the agencies for proposing draft vertical merger guidelines based on the well-established economics of vertical relationships and grounded in the consumer welfare standard.”

The comments are intended to support final guidelines that foster transparency and eliminate unnecessary regulatory obstacles to efficient vertical transactions.

USCIB member Lisa Kimmel, Ph.D., senior counsel, Crowell & Moring LLP, was also invited to participate in one of the public workshops announced by the agencies in February. Unfortunately, those workshops which were scheduled to take place this month, were cancelled due to COVID-19 related measures.

USCIB Talks OECD Accession With New US Ambassador to Brazil   

Todd C. Chapman

USCIB trade and investment policy staffers Shaun Donnelly and Eva Hampl had an introductory conference call on March 19 with the recently-confirmed new U.S. Ambassador to Brazil Todd Chapman and State Department Brazil Desk Economist Ben Kalt.  Ambassador Chapman, with whom USCIB worked in the past during Chapman’s earlier appointment as U.S. Ambassador to Ecuador, had hoped to meet in person with USCIB staff and member companies but settled for an introductory call in light of COVID-19 precautions.

According to Donnelly, the Ambassador assured USCIB that the Brazil’s Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) accession process will be at the top of his policy agenda throughout his assignment in Brazil.

Donnelly and Hampl outlined USCIB’s role in the OECD accession process, serving as the official voice of U.S. business in all OECD matters, directly and as the U.S. affiliate of the Business at OECD (known as BIAC) business coalition on the ground at the OECD.

“We shared our experiences with the OECD, BIAC, the U.S. Government, the government of Colombia and business leaders on Colombia’s recent OECD accession,” said Donnelly. “We discussed possible modalities for embassy-USCIB cooperation throughout the OECD accession process as well as ways both USCIB and the embassy might work most effectively with CNI, which is Brazil’s largest and most influential business organization.”

USCIB has also worked extensively with CNI–as national committee partners in Business at OECD, as well as in the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), the International Organization of Employers (IOE) and the Major Economies Business Forum (BizMEF) for climate change.

Ambassador Chapman enthusiastically signed up for a meeting with USCIB member companies on one of his early return visits to Washington after he gets settled in Brasilia.

The OECD accession process is a comprehensive, rigorous, and lengthy process, often running three to five years or more, with more than a dozen OECD committees and other bodies each carefully reviewing the candidate country’s laws, regulations, and practices to confirm they are in line with OECD standards.  When all relevant OECD committees and subsidiary bodies are satisfied by the applicant’s “like-mindedness” and commitment to OECD standards, the OECD “Council” of thirty-six ambassadors can formally approve the accession and invite the candidate country to file its binding acceptance of membership.

According to Donnelly, given Brazil’s prominent role in the global economy and, frankly, its history of barriers to foreign goods, services and investments, Brazil’s candidacy will likely attract great interest from OECD member governments and the Business at OECD coalition.  USCIB will be at the head of the line in that business effort.  The Brazil accession case has some important unique aspects, probably most important the strong early endorsement from President Trump personally.

If you have questions, concerns, or recommendations concerning Brazil OECD accession process, please contact Eva Hampl (ehampl@uscib.org) or Shaun Donnelly (sdonnelly@uscib.org).

From Our President and CEO Peter Robinson

Open Letter to Members from Peter Robinson, CEO and President USCIB: Response to COVID-19

USCIB President and CEO Peter M. Robinson

Dear Members,

Things have been rapidly developing since my last message to members of March 9. Going forward, our emphasis will be on doing what we can to ensure business continuity during COVID-19.

During this period of uncertainty, USCIB will be using our weekly e-newsletter to stay in touch on what we, along with the international business organizations for which we serve as American affiliate, are doing to ensure the continued, proactive representation of your interests internationally. Our newsletter will focus on communicating what is happening in the UN and multilateral system with regards to response efforts, which we hope will mitigate the impact on your business.

I assure you that USCIB is fully operational during the pandemic and we will continue to provide the services you depend on.  While there are challenges to this new reality as we adjust to social distancing, travel restrictions, work from home and rescheduled or cancelled meetings across the multilateral system, we have implemented a comprehensive teleworking strategy for conducting our daily routine that allows us to protect our employees and respect the role we all play in preventing the spread of the virus to our families, friends and communities.

On the policy front: to maintain the flow of information and advocacy critical to support your interests, policy managers continue to monitor and report back to their committees (through virtual meetings and conference calls) new measures that our global affiliates and network of multilateral organizations we typically interact with have implemented.

Going forward, we will communicate this aspect of our work under “Business Continuity During COVID-19”, a dedicated page on our website (www.uscib.org) that will keep you informed on how we represent your interests at the multilateral “virtual” meetings we will continue to attend.

On the trade services side: to provide the services required in our role as the National Guaranteeing Association for ATA Carnet in the U.S., our Carnet managers continue to process claims and handle inquiries from Carnet holders in support of the free flow of goods and services across borders during this difficult time, and our Service Providers are adapting their processes and procedures to the new circumstances. Relevant developments will be reported that may impact your operations globally.

Our dedicated page on www.uscib.org mentioned above will also spotlight USCIB-member initiatives, such as new public-private partnerships, financial assistance programs, innovations, and accelerated projects that help identify, develop and scale potential treatments and vaccines, all of which strive to minimize the devastating global impacts of the virus. This page is now live and will be updated daily.

During this uncertain time staying in touch is critical.  We want to hear from you.  Please let us know where USCIB can add value in coping with the crisis by answering a few questions:

  • Where can USCIB assist your company or association during these challenging circumstances?
  • What role should global business networks like ICC, IOE and Business at OECD (BIAC) take to mitigate the impact of COVID-19?
  • Which are good private sector practices and partnerships to be shared through the multilateral system?

If members find it helpful, we will organize weekly exchanges tracking efforts to advance private sector solutions and initiatives as the pandemic affects countries across the globe.

In closing, the COVID-19 pandemic has significant implications for every policy area in which USCIB engages. Rest assured that we remain focused on how we can best engage with our partners in business, government and the multilateral system to bring business solutions to the discussion.

Virtual Events on the COVID-19 Challenge

WIPO Director General Public Briefing, April 7: 8:00 am EST

Director General Francis Gurry of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) will conduct an on-line public briefing on WIPO’s 2019 results and also discuss how the organization is managing the current crisis.

The broadcast will be available on the WIPO website at www.wipo.int

For additional information, please read this notice.

Contact: USCIB Vice President for Innovation & Product Policy Mike Michener (mmichener@uscib.org).

IOE-ITUC Digital Summit: What Needs to Happen Next, April 2: 2:00pm – 3:30pm (Europe CST)

IOE President Erol Kiresepi and Secretary General Roberto Suárez Santos together with ITUC General-Secretary Sharan Burrow will be joined by:

  • Ahmad Alzahrani, Deputy Minister and Chair of the G20 Employment Working Group
  • Anousheh Karvar, Government Representative to the ILO Governing Body &  Labour & Employment Sherpa to G7-G20
  • Guy Ryder, ILO Director-General.

Following the recent Joint Statement by IOE and ITUC, this digital summit will provide an in-depth review of G20 measures to address the pandemic, the French experience in engaging with social partners, the ILO approach to the crisis, an overview of employers and workers priorities as the economic emergency causes severe hardships worldwide. It will also launch a dialogue on the next stage of concrete measures needed to mitigate the impact on the global business community.

Register here for this digital summit.

Business and COVID-19: Business Fights Poverty Briefing with McKinsey and UNDP, March 26: 11:00 am – 12:30 pm EST

We would like to share with you an invitation to join a live webinar hosted by Business Fights Poverty, McKinsey, UNDP and the Connecting Business Initiative on Thursday, March 26 at 11:00 am – 12:30 pm EST. The webinar will deep-dive into the impacts, and what action businesses can take, in response to COVID-19, particularly to support those who are most vulnerable in their value chains and in the communities in which they operate. Speakers include:

  • Sahba Sobhani, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
  • Kurt Chauviere, McKinsey
  • Jane Nelson, Harvard University
  • Myriam Sidibe, Harvard University

You can find more information and register here.

IOE Virtual Conference on Private Sector Contribution on Health Emergency Situations, March 26: 2:00 PM – 3:30 PM CET

To effectively respond cooperation and coordination among international organisations, multilateral actors and the business community is vital. Never have effective public-private partnerships been so necessary. IOE is committed to spearheading efforts to build partnerships, and helping the private sector mitigate the impact of the crisis. As part of our COVID-19 response, IOE is leading a digital conference for its members with the participation of high-level experts including the Director of Public Health from the World Health Organization. The goal is to share with our network the latest information on the evolution of the virus and discuss around best response practices around the world.

The session will provide experts insights on critical questions such as:

What is the current situation and impact in different countries with regards to COVID-19? Which measures can be jointly taken with the private sector to mitigate it? What works, what does not work, based on previous emergency situations like the Ebola outbreak? What are the main challenges and opportunities with collaborating with public-private partnerships?

How are international organisations, specially WHO and ILO currently working with the public-private partnerships in response to Covid-19? What kind of initiatives or campaigns have been launched thus far? What levels of engagement and support have been received?

In preventing future global health crisis, how can they further promote and strengthen public and private partnerships, especially in developing countries, to tackle health related issues and to improve overall public health care systems?


  • Welcome, Roberto Suarez, IOE Secretary-General
  • Maria Neira, Director of the World Health Organization (WHO) Department of Public Health: In this period of emergency what is WHO’s position and view on private sector and worker collaboration, how it should be conducted to support a good functioning of Health Systems in anticipating coming problems, especially in developing economies where COVID-19 has not yet reached a critical point?
  • Dr Laurent Taymans, Regional Medical Director,International SOS:What are the challenges of private service providers in addressing health-related crises? Where are the boundaries of private sector engagement in emergencies? What are the best practices with regard to private Sector contribution to Health Emergency situations?
  • Joaquim Pintado Nunes, Chief of Labour Administration, Labour Inspection and Occupational Safety and Health Branch (LABADMIN/OSH), International Labour Organization (ILO):How is ILO mobilizing governments, employers’ and workers’ organizations, and other key partners for creating or strengthening health and safety awareness of what is coming? Is the ILO committed to fostering public-private partnerships and private sector engagement for better anticipation of situations like this in the future and how will it ensure that?

Conclusions, Roberto Suarez, IOE Secretary-General

To join from your computer, tablet or smartphone:https://global.gotomeeting.com/join/226156741
You can also dial in using your phone: United States: +1 (786) 535-3211
Access Code: 226-156-741

USCIB Partners with Business Fights Poverty: COVID-19 Challenge Discussion, March 19: 11am – 12 pm EST

On Thursday March 19, USCIB will partner with Business Fights Poverty (BFP) in an online “challenge” discussion, to which you have also been invited, on how business can best deal with the coronavirus challenge – if you wish to participate, please go to businessfightspoverty.org and register Mike Michener, VP, Innovation and Product Policy will be joined by USCIB policy staff and representatives of our affiliates: ICC, IOE, and BIAC. Michener is leading USCIB’s international health policy work and more specifically our partnership, along with The USCIB Foundation’s program, Business Partnership for Sustainable Development, with Business Fights Poverty.

More information can be found in this press release (along with highlighted efforts of our affiliates).