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.

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).

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.

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?

AGENDA

  • 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).

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.

Table of Contents:

Apple

Salesforce

Microsoft

HanesBrand

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/

COVID-19 Press Releases & Op-Ed’s

TRACIT Issues Warning on Fake, Falsified and Substandard Healthcare Products and Medicines

Online fraudsters exploit COVID-19 fears

New York, 2 April 2020 – The Transnational Alliance to Combat Illicit Trade (TRACIT) issued a statement today, warning consumers about the risks and growing availability of fake, falsified and substandard medical and healthcare products and medicines. The organization, known for mitigating illicit trade across industry sectors worldwide, reports a surge in ineffective, fraudulent products that undermine public health and efforts to stem the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Emergency response measures to protect people from the COVID-19 virus must include the urgent need to protect them from fake, falsified and substandard medical products and medicines,” said TRACIT Director-General Jeffrey Hardy. “Someone wearing a falsified or substandard surgical face mask is not only at risk of exposure, but it creates a false sense of security that can actually accelerate the spread to others.”

Worldwide reports indicate a surge in the availability and type of fraudulent medical products intended to exploit the fears of consumers, which includes illicit offerings of falsified versions of treatments such as Hydroxychloroquine and Azithromycin that will harm or kill already vulnerable patients. Joint operations by the World Customs Organization, Europol and Interpol have resulted in a significant increase in seizures of counterfeit and unauthorized face masks and hand sanitizers.

“Expectations are that the availability of fakes and fraudulent products on the Internet will increase dramatically, especially with the closure of retail stores and the imposition of population distancing strategies,” said Mr. Hardy. “People must be especially careful with their social media, where outright fraud and advertising of fakes is already a major problem.”

In its statement, TRACIT’s product warning list includes fake, falsified and substandard medical products such as surgical masks, hydro-alcoholic gels, testing kits and thermometers. Also listed for increased vigilance are high demand healthcare and consumer products prone to counterfeiting, including cleaning solutions, toilet paper, anti-bacterial wipes, indoor sports equipment, refrigeration appliances, food products and reading materials.

TRACIT called for immediate action by governments, law enforcement, Internet platforms and brand owners:

  • Governments to prioritize the response to fraud among COVID-19 emergency measures, allocate resources to blocking distribution of fakes, warn consumers about the risks of fake and fraudulent products, especially online sales, and impose immediate sanctions on the manufacture and sale of fraudulent COVID-19 related products.
  • Law enforcement to clamp down on violators, increase vigilance for stolen, tampered and expired medical products and medicines, and establish a coordinated national strategy to share intelligence, best practices and cooperate on cross-border investigations.
  • Internet eCommerce platforms to amplify policing and takedown of online sales of counterfeit and fraudulent COVID-19 related products.
  • Brand owners to increase security of supply chains for genuine COVID-19 related medical products and medicines, share data with law enforcement where supply chains have been compromised and raise awareness about online shopping fraud.

In the longer run, TRACIT expressed concern that the COVID-19 Pandemic underscores the urgent need for a strong international policy framework to combat the illicit trade of fake, falsified and substandard medical products and medicines.

“Once we get past this crisis, we’ll need to double our efforts to prevent counterfeiting and falsification of medical products and medicines,” said Mr. Hardy. “This must start with stronger provisions for preventing the availability of illicit products online and stronger measures to keep illicit pharmaceuticals out of the physical supply chain, including postal and express carrier infrastructures.”

Collaboration

This effort was produced in collaboration with Elipe Global a leader in strategic government relations, corporate affairs and communications services (https://www.elipe-global.com/index.html), the US Council for International Business (USCIB) (https://www.uscib.org/anti-illicit-trade/), and the UK Anti-Counterfeiting Group (https://www.a-cg.org/).

About TRACIT

​The Transnational Alliance to Combat Illicit Trade (TRACIT) is an independent, private sector initiative to mitigate the economic and social damages of illicit trade by strengthening government enforcement mechanisms and mobilizing businesses across industry sectors most impacted by illicit trade.

Contact:

Cindy Braddon, Head of Communications and Public Policy, TRACIT

Tel: +1 571-365-6885 / cindy.braddon@TRACIT.org / http://www.tracit.org/ Twitter: @TRACIT_org

 

Business Must Come Together to Respond to COVID-19 Now

Op-Ed by Scott C. Ratzan MD, Executive Director of Business Partners for Sustainable Development

Earlier this month, nearly 500 experts in public health, law and human rights wrote an open letter to U.S Vice President Mike Pence to act swiftly, fairly and effectively, warning that “the COVID-19 outbreak is unprecedented in recent American history, and there is no playbook for an epidemiological event of this scope and magnitude.”

Yet, just weeks later, we all are living with unprecedented turmoil from this novel coronavirus, COVID-19.

While the virus was named a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) by the World Health Organization (WHO), this is the seventh time we have had such a proclamation in the last two decades. H1N1 influenza, polio, ebola in West Africa and in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zika, all abated and did not cause as much havoc. Financial markets are on a roller coaster, planes grounded and many of us sheltering in place or in a self-imposed or government-recommended quarantine.

The future of our public health and economy depend on how government officials, policymakers, leaders and our fellow citizens react.

This includes honest, coherent, transparent, and timely communication while providing adequate funding and support for the response. The health care system needs immediate resources for equitable and effective infection control and the means to effectively manage the disease.

As 24/7 news, interactive websites, social media and alerts fill our day, the virus continues to spread. Unfortunately, without a clear treatment or cure, fear and uncertainty results in a rich environment for misinformation and misguided actions.

COVID-19 is a test of our system’s ability to address a legitimate public health threat with an unknown trajectory. Multiple sectors must leverage knowledge, expertise, networks and resources to produce better public health outcomes. Being prepared with a plan and being proactive is the name of the game in prevention, mitigation and management of risk and the adverse consequences of any threat.

Business must play a critical role in planning, implementing and adapting to this crisis due to its wide reach, resources and impact on employees, partners and markets.

Communication from employers on coronavirus is the most credible source of information, according to a recent Edelman ten-country study (March 6-10). This is consistent with a 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer, which showed that “my employer” is the most trusted institution by 18 points over business in general and NGOs, and by 27 points over government and media.

Employers are central in communicating the response. The public needs the assurance that as more is learned, information will be shared accurately and clearly from sources they trust.

This emergent threat challenges our society to cooperate amongst all sectors, including government, media, technology platforms and the private sector.

We know that large scale communication campaigns that employ behavioral economics, health literacy and communication levers (mass and social media) can drive citizens toward healthier decisions. As COVID-19 continues to spread, the business sector’s historical hallmarks of innovation, efficiency and management can help address the challenge we face today.

There are some promising examples:

  • A COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator supported by Mastercard will join with the WHO, government and private sector funders and organizations to speed the response to the COVID-19 epidemic by identifying, assessing, developing and scaling-up treatments.
  • The USCIB is leveraging existing networks to catalyze partnerships to address challenges, such as COVID-19. This includes working with the International Organization of Employers (IOE) and the International Labor Organization (ILO) to distribute WHO guidance on simple and low-cost measures for creating a healthier and more productive workplace.
  • The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and Business at OECD (BIAC) are also working on the design of an action plan to reach millions of businesses with recommendations to help governments deal with the threat to the global economy.
  • The Global NGO Business Fights Poverty is collaborating with Business Partners for Sustainable Development (BPSD) to develop an online “challenge” discussion on how business should tackle the coronavirus challenge.
  • NBCUniversal, Viacom/CBS, iHeartMedia, The Atlantic, Disney/ABC Television and the Ad Council will donate advertising inventory for campaigns that will advise consumers about social distancing, steps that can be taken to protect the public and more.

While the WHO was established to advance “informed opinion and active cooperation on the part of the public” we have now learned that health issues are not confined to one organization or sector.

Only by working together, with the public and private sectors, we can advance a society where our livelihoods are not threatened by similar future outbreaks and create a resilient society capable of responding to any future threat we may face.

Scott C. Ratzan MD is Executive Director of Business Partners for Sustainable Development. He is Former Senior Fellow at Harvard Kennedy School Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government.

USCIB Calls for a Moonshot Mindset in the Business and Government Response to COVID-19 Virus

March 12, 2020, New York, New York — The U.S. Council for International Business (USCIB) and Business Partners for Sustainable Development (BPSD) today called for a cooperative, unified, business and government response to the global threat that is the COVID-19 Virus, on par with the challenges of the Space Race of the last century.

With a membership base of American companies operating globally and a longstanding role in representing business before the United Nations, and as the American affiliate of the leading international business organizations, USCIB and its partner organizations offer an extensive network to coordinate the private sector in its response to COVID-19.

“Grand challenges like COVID-19 require “moonshot thinking”, where governments around the world develop transformative and inclusive programs in consultation with the business community in a collaborative effort to stem the spread of the virus,” said USCIB President and CEO Peter M. Robinson. “Our networks can play a vital role in rapidly bringing together the considerable resources of the global business community.  History tells us that in times of crisis, business and government, working together, have the capacity to develop collaborative, innovative solutions that are not possible without such cooperation.”

Effective immediately, USCIB has taken steps to limit the spread of the virus by asking employees in New York and Washington, D.C. to work remotely until further notice. USCIB is utilizing teleconferencing tools to hold meetings virtually and limiting domestic and international travel in an effort to protect team members.

USCIB is working closely with public health expert Dr. Scott Ratzan, editor-in-chief of the Journal of Health Communications: International Perspectives, and executive director of Business Partners for Sustainable Development (BPSD).

BPSD is an international public-private partnership in support of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It provides a framework for government, business and civil society to share information, resources, activities and capabilities, and works in collaboration to achieve objectives together that the sectors cannot achieve independently.

“By working with the extensive networks of USCIB and its affiliated organizations, government can more rapidly mobilize the resources of the private sector and communicate in a more effective and timely manner,” said Dr. Ratzan. “This coordinated, multi-lateral response is essential to effectively responding to COVID-19.”

Recent initiatives of USCIB and its international affiliates that demonstrate how business and government can work together to develop response plans for COVID-19 include:

  • The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) is working with the World Health Organization (WHO) on the design of an action plan to reach millions of businesses which are seeking support and guidance to ensure business continuity. ICC is taking an inventory of all tools and instruments that will be essential for businesses in facing the current exceptional circumstances.
  • The International Organization of Employers (IOE) is working with the International Labor Organization (ILO) to distribute WHO guidance on simple and low-cost measures that can help prevent the spread of the disease while creating a healthier and more productive workplace.
  • Business at OECD (BIAC) is working with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) on recommendations to help governments deal with the threat to the global economy posed by the coronavirus crisis.
  • USCIB and Business Partners for Sustainable Development (a partnership initiative of The USCIB Foundation), is working with Business Fights Poverty to develop an online “challenge” discussion on how business should tackle the coronavirus challenge.

About USCIB: USCIB promotes open markets, competitiveness and innovation, sustainable development and corporate responsibility, supported by international engagement and regulatory coherence. Its members include U.S.-based global companies and professional services firms from every sector of our economy, with operations in every region of the world, generating $5 trillion in annual revenues and employing over 11 million people worldwide. As the U.S. affiliate of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), the International Organization of Employers (IOE), and Business at OECD (BIAC), USCIB helps to provide business views to policy makers and regulatory authorities worldwide and works to facilitate international trade and investment. More information is available at www.uscib.org.

Contact:
Kira Yevtukhova, USCIB
+1 202.617.3160, kyevtukhova@uscib.org

Business Continuity During COVID-19

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 this page “Business Continuity During COVID-19”, (see also tool bar on the right of this page) 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 web pages mentioned above will 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.

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.

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.