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

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

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

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

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

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.”

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).

COVID-19 Responses: USCIB Members

USCIB is pleased to share initiatives that member companies are doing to address the COVID-19 crisis. We’ll be updating this page daily, so check back often for more spotlights.

Featured Companies:

HP
Intel
Mastercard
Apple
Salesforce
Microsoft
HanesBrand


Member Spotlight: HP Mobilizes 3D Printing to Battle COVID-19

Quick Summary:
HP Inc. and its global digital manufacturing community are mobilizing their 3D printing teams, technology, experience, and production capacity to help deliver critical parts in the effort to battle the COVID-19 pandemic.
Some of the first applications being validated and produced include: hands-free door opener, mask adjuster, face shields. 

HP Inc. and its global digital manufacturing community announced in a press release on March 24 that they are mobilizing their 3D printing teams, technology, experience, and production capacity to help deliver critical parts in the effort to battle the COVID-19 pandemic.

HP has produced more than 35,000 parts to date and growing, with partners and customers producing tens of thousands more.  HP’s 3D R&D centers in Barcelona, Spain; Corvallis, Oregon; San Diego, California and Vancouver, Washington are collaborating with partners around the world in a coordinated effort to increase production to meet the most urgent needs. Initial applications being validated and finalized for industrial production include face masks, face shields, mask adjusters, nasal swabs, hands-free door openers, and respirator parts. HP is also coordinating with government, health, and industry agencies in numerous countries to ensure a synchronized and effective approach.

Some of the first applications being validated and produced include:

  • Hands-Free Door Opener:  Door handles are among the most germ-infested objects in houses, hospitals, factories, and elderly homes.  This adapter allows for easy and more sanitary opening with an elbow. This hands-free door opener has been designed by HP’s Digital Manufacturing Network partner Materialise.
  • Mask Adjuster:  Many hospital staff are required to wear masks for long periods of time.  This clasp is designed to improve comfort and alleviate associated ear pain.
  • Face Shields:  Face shields are one of the highest-need personal protection items.  Brackets to hold the shield and comfortably fit the wearer are a critical component.
  • FFP3 Face Masks:  Effective protective gear is needed for medical providers to treat the volume of expected COVID-19 patients.  HP is validating several hospital-grade face masks and expects them to be available shortly. One example of face mask has been developed by the Research Institute CIIRC CVUT and is being produced using HP Multi Jet Fusion technology and distributed by Škoda Auto in the Czech Republic.

Many more applications are in the testing and validation phase and are expected to begin production soon, including:

    • Field Ventilator: 3D printed parts for a mechanical bag valve mask (BVM) that is designed for use as a short-term emergency ventilation of COVID-19 patients. This simplified design enables a robust and less-complex device, facilitating its rapid production and assembly.
    • Nasopharyngeal swabs: HP has developed an investigational 3D printed nasopharyngeal test swab, designed for use in COVID-19 testing. HP has shared the swab designs with several premiere research partners for clinical evaluation. We are working closely with leading researchers at Harvard University and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center to assist with gathering test data and to further refine the 3D printed swab designs, materials, and printing capacity. We are advancing fast with the goal of mass producing the swabs with HP’s industrial-grade Jet Fusion 3D printers.

To read the full press release, please click here.


USCIB Member Intel Commits $50 Million with Pandemic Response Technology Initiative to Combat Coronavirus

Photo source: Intel
Quick Summary:
Intel is pledging an additional $50 million in a pandemic response technology initiative to combat the coronavirus through accelerating access to technology at the point of patient care, speeding scientific research and ensuring access to online learning for students.
This technology response initiative builds on Intel’s prior announcements of $10 million in donations that are supporting local communities during this critical time. Those donations include 1 million gloves, masks and other equipment for healthcare workers, $6 million from the Intel Foundation toward relief efforts in local communities and $4 million from Intel and its subsidiaries around the globe.

Today, April 7, Intel is pledging an additional $50 million in a pandemic response technology initiative to combat the coronavirus through accelerating access to technology at the point of patient care, speeding scientific research and ensuring access to online learning for students. Included in Intel’s effort is an additional innovation fund for requests where access to Intel expertise and resources can have immediate impact. This is in addition to prior announcements of $10 million in donations that are supporting local communities during this critical time.

What It Funds: Approximately $40 million will fund the Intel COVID-19 Response and Readiness and Online Learning initiatives. The Intel COVID-19 Response and Readiness Initiative will provide funding to accelerate customer and partner advances in diagnosis, treatment and vaccine development, leveraging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), high-performance computing and edge-to-cloud service delivery. Through the initiative, Intel will help healthcare and life sciences manufacturers increase the availability of technology and solutions used by hospitals to diagnose and treat COVID-19. It will also support the creation of industry alliances that accelerate worldwide capacity, capability and policy to respond to this and future pandemics, building on Intel’s own experience in driving technology innovation in the health and life sciences arena.

The Intel Online Learning Initiative will support education-focused nonprofit organizations and business partners to provide students without access to technology with devices and online learning resources. In close partnership with public school districts, the initiative will enable PC donations, online virtual resources, study-at-home guides and device connectivity assistance. The Intel Online Learning Initiative builds on Intel’s long-standing commitment to technology that improves learning. It will begin immediately in regions with the greatest needs across the United States and expand globally.

The company has also allocated up to $10 million for an innovation fund that supports requests from external partners and employee-led relief projects, addressing critical needs in their communities.

Why It Matters: Intel technology underpins critical products and services that global communities, governments and healthcare organizations depend on every day. We hope that by harnessing our expertise, resources, technology and talents, we can help save and enrich lives by solving the world’s greatest challenges through the creation and development of new technology-based innovations and approaches.

Coronavirus Relief to Date: This technology response initiative builds on Intel’s prior announcements of $10 million in donations that are supporting local communities during this critical time. Those donations include 1 million gloves, masks and other equipment for healthcare workers, $6 million from the Intel Foundation toward relief efforts in local communities and $4 million from Intel and its subsidiaries around the globe.

Additional Technology Efforts: As previously announced, Intel and Lenovo have teamed up with Beijing-based BGI Genomics to accelerate the analysis of genomic characteristics of COVID-19. Intel has also joined the global XPRIZE Pandemic Alliance along with other companies to fuel collaboration on solutions through shared innovation to effectively address the immediate needs of the crisis.


USCIB Member Mastercard Partners With Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Wellcome to Speed Development and Access to Therapies for COVID-19

Quick Summary:
COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator will coordinate R&D efforts and remove barriers to drug development and scale-up to address the epidemic.
Mastercard partnered with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Wellcome. Together the partners committed up to $125 million in seed funding to speed-up the response to COVID-19 by identifying, assessing, developing and scaling-up treatments.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Wellcome and Mastercard announced on March 10 a commitment of up to $125 million in seed funding to speed-up the response to the COVID-19 epidemic by identifying, assessing, developing, and scaling-up treatments. The partners are committed to equitable access, including making products available and affordable in low-resource settings. The COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator will play a catalytic role by accelerating and evaluating new and repurposed drugs and biologics to treat patients with COVID-19 in the immediate term, and other viral pathogens in the longer-term. Currently there are no broad-spectrum antivirals or immunotherapies available for the fight against emerging pathogens, and none approved for use on COVID-19.

The COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator will work with the World Health Organization, government and private sector funders and organizations, as well as the global regulatory and policy-setting institutions. The Accelerator will have an end-to-end focus, from drug pipeline development through manufacturing and scale-up. By sharing research, coordinating investments, and pooling resources, these efforts can help to accelerate research. This kind of collaboration was a key lesson from the 2014 Ebola outbreak. By providing fast and flexible funding at key stages of the development process, the Accelerator will de-risk the pathway for new drugs and biologics for COVID-19 and future epidemic threats, ensuring access in lower-resource countries.

While antiviral drugs are approved to lessen the severity of seasonal flu and treat HIV, among other viral diseases, none have demonstrated efficacy against the current epidemic. One reason for the lack of effective treatments is that products may not have an immediate market, which can slow or prevent their research and commercial development. The COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator is designed to help by bringing together resources and expertise to lower the financial and technical risk for academia, biotech, and pharmaceutical companies, while ensuring that these products are accessible and affordable to people in low-resource settings. The expertise of pharmaceutical companies will be critical in identifying, researching, and commercializing successful drugs.

“We’re proud to join this crucial effort to combat COVID-19 in furtherance of our commitment to inclusive growth,” said Mike Froman, vice chairman of Mastercard. “This global challenge not only represents a risk to the health and safety of populations all over the world, but also poses a potential disruption to the economic vitality of millions of people, businesses, and organizations worldwide. Our experience with financial inclusion shows us the importance of building a network of parties who bring not only their capital, but complementary assets and skill sets to the table, and we welcome other partners concerned about inclusive growth to join this effort.”

For the full story, please visit Mastercard’s press page.


Member Spotlight: Apple Develops COVID-19 Screening App

Quick Summary:
Apple’s new COVID-19 website, and COVID-19 app available on the App Store, were created in partnership with the CDC, the White House Coronavirus Task Force and FEMA to make it easy for people across the country to get trusted information and guidance at a time when the US is feeling the heavy burden of COVID-19.
Consistent with Apple’s strong dedication to user privacy, the COVID-19 app and website were built to keep all user data private and secure.

Apple released a new screening tool and set of resources on March 27 to help people stay informed and take the proper steps to protect their health during the spread of COVID-19, based on the latest CDC guidance. The new COVID-19 website, and COVID-19 app available on the App Store, were created in partnership with the CDC, the White House Coronavirus Task Force and FEMA to make it easy for people across the country to get trusted information and guidance at a time when the US is feeling the heavy burden of COVID-19.

The COVID-19 app and website allow users to answer a series of questions around risk factors, recent exposure and symptoms for themselves or a loved one. In turn, they will receive CDC recommendations on next steps, including guidance on social distancing and self-isolating, how to closely monitor symptoms, whether or not a test is recommended at this time, and when to contact a medical provider. This new screening tool is designed to be a resource for individuals and does not replace instructions from healthcare providers or guidance from state and local health authorities.

Along with the new COVID-19 app and website, customers across the US may also ask Siri, “How do I know if I have coronavirus?” to access guidance and resources from the CDC and a curated collection of telehealth apps available on the App Store. This week, travelers landing at select international airports throughout the US started receiving notifications on their iPhone to remind them of current CDC guidance to stay home and monitor their health.

Consistent with Apple’s strong dedication to user privacy, the COVID-19 app and website were built to keep all user data private and secure. The tools do not require a sign-in or association with a user’s Apple ID, and users’ individual responses will not be sent to Apple or any government organization.

Although the screen tool is a resource to evaluate level of risk and recognizing when symptoms are severe, it is not meant to replace any guidelines or instructions from health officials. To learn more about Apple’s new app release, please see here.


Member Spotlight: Salesforce Efforts to Help Those Affected by COVID-19

Quick Summary:
Salesforce donated $3 million to several organizations.
Salesforce is making some of its technology available for free to help customers and partners navigate through the crisis while also launching rapid response solutions to help companies and employees, customers and communities, as well as providing access to Health Cloud for healthcare systems experiencing an influx of COVID-19 requests.

To support the global response to COVID-19, Salesforce has donated $3 million to UCSF’s COVID-19 Response Fund, the CDC Foundation’s Emergency Response Fund and San Francisco’s Give2SF Fund. As always, the company is also matching employee donations to eligible organizations.


Salesforce is also making some of its technology available for free for a period of time to help its customers and partners navigate through the crisis. The company launched Salesforce Care rapid response solutions to help companies stay connected to their employees, customers and communities. This is in addition to making Quip Starter available to any business and providing access to Health Cloud for healthcare systems experiencing an influx of COVID-19 requests. And organizations around the world are using Tableau’s COVID-19 data hub to see and understand data about the pandemic.

More updates on the initiatives Salesforce is taking during the COVID-19 crisis, please click here.


Member Spotlight: Microsoft’s COVID-19 Assessment Bot Eliminates Bottlenecks

Quick Summary:

Microsoft’s Healthcare Bot uses AI to help CDC and other organizations respond to inquiries, freeing up doctors, nurses, administrators to provide critical care to those who need it.
The need to screen patients with any number of symptoms — to determine who has high enough risk factors to need access to limited medical resources and which people may more safely care for themselves at home — is a bottleneck that threatens to overwhelm health systems coping with the crisis.

Microsoft is offering its Healthcare Bot service, powered by Microsoft Azure, to organizations on the frontlines of the COVID-19 response to help screen patients for potential infection and care. One such organization is the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which recently released a COVID-19 assessment bot that can quickly assess the symptoms and risk factors for people worried about infection, provide information and suggest a next course of action, such as contacting a medical provider or, for those who do not need in-person medical care, managing the illness safely at home.

The bot, which utilizes Microsoft’s Healthcare Bot service, is available on the CDC website.

Public health organizations, hospitals and others on the frontlines of the COVID-19 response need to be able to respond to inquiries, provide the public with up-to-date outbreak information, track exposure, quickly triage new cases and guide next steps.  Many have expressed great concern about the overwhelming demand COVID-19 is creating on resources such as urgent, emergency and nursing care.

In particular, the need to screen patients with any number of cold or flu-like symptoms — to determine who has high enough risk factors to need access to limited medical resources and which people may more safely care for themselves at home — is a bottleneck that threatens to overwhelm health systems coping with the crisis.

Microsoft’s Healthcare Bot service is one solution that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to help the CDC and other frontline organizations respond to these inquiries, freeing up doctors, nurses, administrators and other healthcare professionals to provide critical care to those who need it.

The Healthcare Bot service is a scalable Azure-based public cloud service that allows organizations to quickly build and deploy an AI-powered bot for websites or applications that can offer patients or the general public personalized access to health-related information through a natural conversation experience. It can be easily customized to suit an organization’s own scenarios and protocols.

To read more about Microsoft’s Healthcare Bot service visit Microsoft’s Official Blog


Member Spotlight: HanesBrands to Manufacture Cotton Masks

Quick Summary:
HanesBrands expects to produce about 1.5 million FDA-approved masks weekly, while the consortium of other apparel manufacturers that HanesBrands joined is expected to, as a whole, ramp up production of 5-6 million masks weekly.
Using U.S.-grown cotton, the masks are being produced in Hanesbrands’ sewing factories in El Salvador, Honduras and the Dominican Republic.

USCIB member HanesBrands Inc. announced that it will begin producing FDA-approved cotton masks at some of its factories in Latin America as part of a federal contract to combat a national shortage of face masks resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The company joined a cooperative consortium of other apparel manufacturers, led by Parkdale Mills America, that are dedicating manufacturing capacity to meet U.S. demand for masks. HanesBrands expects to produce about 1.5 million masks weekly, and the consortium as a whole is expected to ramp up production of five to six million masks weekly using HanesBrands’ design and patterns.

The announcement came Saturday, March 21, during President Donald Trump’s media briefing about the federal government’s response. The company went from negotiating a contract with the federal government to beginning production in less than a week, according to a company spokesman.

Using U.S.-grown cotton, the masks are being produced in Hanesbrands’ sewing factories in El Salvador, Honduras and the Dominican Republic.

These factories would normally be producing T-shirts, underwear, socks, sweatpants and sweatshirts.

More information can be found here: https://hanesforgood.com/inthistogether/

News Stories Related to COVID-19

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.

Coronavirus Impact on ATA Carnet in the United States

USCIB, as the national guaranteeing and issuing association in the U.S. for ATA Carnets, along with our service providers, Boomerang Carnets and Roanoke, have been watching with concern reports of the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and its potential impact to ATA Carnet holders and the business community at large.

In our role as an advocate for global trade and a passionate supporter of its importance to growth and prosperity, USCIB believes that every effort should be made to balance legitimate health and safety concerns with the imperative to actively support the free flow of goods and services across borders.  In that spirit, we will work with Foreign National Guaranteeing Associations and National Customs Administrations to attempt to mitigate any ATA Carnet claims for U.S. issued Carnets that are caused by restrictions in the country of re-exportation due to the virus.

USCIB has been in contact with China Customs and have received their support on dealing with any future claims on U.S. issued Carnets. At the same time, USCIB also plans to work with U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) in efforts to help mitigate any Chinese Carnets impacted by the virus on re-exportation from the U.S.  It is important to note, however, that all holders should keep as much documentation (e.g. airline ticket cancellations/rebookings, hotel reservation extension etc..) as possible to support their case.

ICC, B20, World Health Organization Call for Coordinated Global Response to COVID-19

In a collective call to action ahead of this week’s virtual G20 Summit, the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), the Business Twenty (B20) and the World Health Organization (WHO), have set out proposed measures to enable a coordinated global response to effectively contain the potential human and economic toll of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In an open letter to G20 heads of state and government, issued on March 23, the three organizations underscored the vital role of the G20 in stemming the growing human and economic costs of the current crisis.

“We reiterate our firm view that only effective global cooperation can contain the potential human and economic toll of COVID-19. The limits of inward-looking policies are already patently clear,” the letter states.

Measures outlined in the letter for immediate action are:

  • To ensure infection control and medical products reach the hands of those who need them the most;
  • To use the private sector to help meet the need for testing and related reporting;
  • To ensure equitable access and affordability of essential medical supplies and health services; and
  • To scale financial assistance to ensure no-one is left behind in dealing with potential effects of COVID-19.

The letter also calls for a G20 pledge to work together to mitigate economic damages incurred by the pandemic, prioritizing urgent stimulus and safeguard measures to support MSMEs and avoid rampant unemployment.