Laura Ortega | Executive Director, International Business Council | 312-983-7111

March 2020
The Illinois Chamber of Commerce launched the International Business Council (IBC) initiative in
May 2013 to take a leadership role in international trade and increase Illinois business' import-export trading capabilities. Since then, the IBC has helped companies access, develop and implement international growth strategies and designed a "soft landing" strategy to bring foreign-based business to Illinois.

On Friday, April 3rd at 1:30pm the International Business Council will be offering a first of a series of COVID-19 critical information webinars:  
ECONOMIC IMPACT OF COVID-19 FOR THE U.S. AND THE GLOBAL ECONOMY featuring Dr. Venkat Veeramani, SVP of Risk Management at WINTRUST. Topics will include:
"U.S. economic activity is all set to decline sharply. Is the recovery going to be 'V', 'U', 'L' shaped or something else?"
  • general economic and financial market indicators analysis
  • COVID-19 Pandemic's short-term and long-term impacts on the U.S. economy,
  • demand/supply/capacity disruptions and its economic and financial consequences, and   
  • fiscal and monetary policy measures enacted around the globe to cope with the situation.
Illinois Chamber of Commerce Members, register at no charge by sending an email to
Non Members register here  
Dear members and friends of the IBC:
Good morning! I hope you all are safe and strong.  
 G iven the extraordinary situation that we all are experiencing due to the Covid-19 crisis , I thought it was appropriate to focus our Q1 newsletter solely on the Coronavirus pandemic. Business organizations and entrepreneurs across the State are being challenged by this health emergency in multiple ways as our existing social, economic and political frame-works are severely disrupted. For over 100 years, the Illinois Chamber of Commerce has always positioned itself as the right arm of executives and entrepreneurs, and this moment will be no different. The International Business Council will be
offering a series of Critical Information Webinars on key themes to help our members and the Illinois Business Community to adapt strategy and management to C-19 times. See end of the page for more information.  
The Coronavirus pandemic officially declared by the World Health Organization on March 11th has created unprecedented conditions that have shocked the World paralyzing entire countries and delivering a multidimensional crisis that makes NO business as usual in global trade and diplomacy.
  • G7-G20. G7 Meeting of Foreign Ministers scheduled for March 24th in Pittsburgh was held by video conference. Similarly, G-20 extraordinary Summit hosted by Saudi Arabia took place virtually on March 26th
  • UN & WORLD BANK. Offices in NYC and DC are closed to the public after both organizations reported two positive cases. There staff is shifting to telework.
  • WORLD TRADE ORGANIZATION. WTO has suspended all its meetings after staff member tested positive. The June meeting of health ministers is also expected to be postponed.
  • BREXIT. In person talks on a Brexit deal between the United Kingdom and the European Union are put on hold indefinitely as well as the negotiations of any other foreseeable trade agreement already in the making.
Although the outbreak was first identified in Wuhan, China in December 2019, it spread rapidly throughout the country and then globally affecting now 198 countries nearing 500,000 confirmed cases worldwide with more than 23,000 deaths. As of March 16th, the total number of cases reported around the world outside China had exceeded that of mainland China moving the center of the pandemic to Europe and now the United States
with highest number of confirmed cases in the world. Click here for more information. 
Early international responses included air travel restrictions and entry bans for visitors and citizens coming from the most affected areas of the pandemic. N ational reactions, on the other hand, have focused primary on domestic containment measures such as stay-at-home orders and curfews with different degrees of severity, enforcement and coordination. As of March 24th, about a third of the World population is effectively in lock down. Many countries have declared a state of emergency restricting the free movement of people, capital and goods, except for "essential services" severely disrupting social, political and commercial relations across the globe. These are some of the most relevant domestic responses.
Whereas the first priority for most governments and international organizations continues to be the health crisis to protect populations and prevent the collapsing of the overwhelmed health systems, lock down orders are quickly chocking regional economies and disrupting global supply-chains. According to the IMF, the coronavirus pandemic will cause a global recession in 2020 that could be worse than the one triggered by the global financial crisis of 2008-2009. Click here for the latest on commitments from the multilateral institutions to cope with this extraordinary multifaceted crisis.
In the US, all economic indicators consumption, capital spending, export- are in free fall. The US stock market has plummeted into bear territory, down more than 35% in only 3 weeks; credit markets have frozen resulting in massive bankruptcies followed by soaring unemployment rates with a record 3.3. million Americans filling for unemployment benefits just last week. The consensus among financial institutions is a sharp decline of US GDP by the 2nd quarter. However, the real question is: what kind of recession we'll be having? While some financial experts are anticipating a V-shaped down slide with a rapid recovery, others are presenting a more dire picture that ranges from a longer U-shaped downturn to an L-shaped prolonged economic depression.
Aggressive responses are being developed at the local, state and federal level. Below is a summary of the current Congressional legislative activity.
First, House passes an $8.3 billion funding package signed into law by President Trump on March 6th. This initial package includes:
  • $3 billion towards the development of treatments and a coronavirus vaccine. includes an additional $300 million to ensure Americans will have access to the vaccine.
  • Provides $2.2 billion in public health funding for prevention, preparedness and response, including nearly a billion dollars to alleviate the financial strain on hospitals and health systems.  
  • Supports small businesses impacted by this epidemic, allowing for an estimated $7 billion in low-interest SBA loans to those affected.
Second, Congress enacts The Families First Coronavirus Response Act on March 18th with overwhelming bipartisan support. It provides:
  • Free testing for C-19: ensures that all individuals who need a test, including those with private insurance, Medicare Advantage or Original Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP, VA, FEHBP, and TRICARE, as well as the uninsured, will have access at no cost.
  • Paid emergency leave: provides two weeks of paid sick leave and up to three months of paid family and medical leave to approximately 83 million more Americans. 
  • Enhanced Unemployment Insurance: gives states the resources and flexibility to provide unemployment benefits to laid off and furloughed workers, as well as to those workers who exhaust their allotted paid leave. This measure also provides additional funding to help the hardest-hit states immediately and in the future if conditions worsen.
  • Food security: includes more than $1 billion to provide food to low-income pregnant women and mothers with young children, help local food banks, and feed low-income seniors. It ensures that students who depend on schools and childcare for free and reduce-priced meals continue to have access to foods during closures.
  • Health security: increases the Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP), which the federal government provides to state and territorial Medicaid programs. This will prevent states from cutting benefits, reducing their Medicaid rolls, or imposing greater costs on enrollees.
Third, IL Reps. Schneider and Schakowsky with Reps. Jody Hice (R-GA) introduce legislation to address the threat of shortages of medical devices. This is a growing problem as many medical devices manufactures have facilities in China where operations are affected by the ongoing outbreak of coronavirus. The bill would grant FDA authority to import medical devices in case of a shortage and require manufacturers to publicly report expected shortages to the FDA.  
Lastly, an additional emergency $2 trillion relief bill to mitigate the financial damages caused by the coronavirus pandemic was approved on Friday. It would distribute checks to more than 150 million American households, set up loan and/or grant programs for all-size-businesses and fund unemployment insurance to boost spending.
Now more than ever, the Council will continue to facilitate connections with our community of Members and Global Partners for lead generation and new business opportunities or industry partnerships.
Please feel free to contact Executive Director Laura Ortega should you have any questions, comments, suggestions, information or new ideas to improve your business.
Our best wishes for a safe and productive day!

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