AmCham – U.S. Embassy virtual Townhall


The virtual Townhall of AmCham with U.S. Ambassador to Bangladesh H.E. Earl R. Miller, Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM) Ms. JoAnne Wagner along with the economic/commercial officials.

The Global Pandemic, COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease) outbreak in Bangladesh caused AmCham members in multifarious ways . There is, in the short term, a clear and significant negative impact on member company operations through travel disruptions, reduced staff productivity, significant drops in revenue, and more. However, it is still uncertain to fathom how significant the long-term impact will be. It took place on Tuesday 5th May 2020 at 4pm to discuss on COVID-19 response efforts by the US Embassy in partnership with the govt of Bangladesh, impact of the pandemic on members’ business operations, supply chains and how AmCham can play a leadership role in organizing private sector contributions to help Bangladesh respond to the COVID-19 outbreak. Going forward, we discussed about additional support from U.S. embassy on advocacy or scope for cooperation for respective sectors.

Key takeaways from AmCham members following the Virtual Town hall with Ambassador Miller on 5th May 2020 are below:
Impact of Pandemic & Lockdown:
● The global/regional integration is severely affected for travel restriction and cross border trade.
● The investment in raw materials for future production is quiet a burden for business.
● The existing orders with the completed production (at source) are withheld.
● Regular demand is declining and the projection is uncertain
● Payments against matured L/C’s are on hold or delayed, creating bottleneck for new orders.
● Reduced bank hours and limited scale operation are hampering the transaction scenario.
● Scarcity of raw materials and product in the market has prompted the vendors to increase price.
● There is a sharp downfall on outstanding collection from customers.
● Limited transport facilities causing troubles for delivery of products even online orders.
● Maintaining a high level of physical safety and personal hygiene causing higher operational costs.
● Ambiguous/Sudden regulatory orders, raising legal concerns during emergency period.
● Congestion at Chittagong Port has created issues, while doing import of raw materials or exporting of goods.
● Overall consumer payment segment impacted for travel restriction, closure of tourism sectors & closure of shops.

Business Operations at present
● Making no commitment to any capital investments at the moment until situation becomes normal.
● Ensuring availability of emergency stocks through advance inventory and demand forecasts.
● Revised business plan for the year 2020 assuming different scenarios and created multiple options.
● The center for control of whole operation is now made virtual and being managed online/remotely.
● Reassess capacity to allocate associate’s productivity toward a sustainable contribution.
● Identifying technologies that business can deploy to meet the needs of their offerings.
● Shifting focus on key customers only and their requirements to serve them with highest priority
● Employees involved in running key components of plant/emergency service working on rotation.
● Cost optimization of different cost center

While the overwhelming majority of AmCham members are concerned about both health and economic impacts of the coronavirus outbreak, almost all of them are extremely concerned about the economic impact and expected 2020 revenue down, GDP to Drop than pre-COVID projection with challenges on decreased demand, supply chain/logistics issues and overall cash flow. Since US Embassy & AmCham work to promote the economic relationships between Bangladesh and the United States of America, we will highly appreciate any support from the US Embassy, Dhaka to help our members combat the crisis together and help the Bangladesh economy to have a sustained platform through very well coordinated team efforts.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank the US Embassy, Dhaka and AmCham-Bangladesh members for active participation and valued time at the virtual town-hall to find ways to combat the crisis together.