International Trade & Covid-19: Supply Chain Risks, Impacts and Opportunities

International Trade & Covid-19: Supply Chain Risks, Impacts and Opportunities

On Wednesday April 29, AMCHAM's Legal Committee held their fourth event in a series of discussions regarding covid-19 and its legal ramifications title International Trade & Covid-19: Supply Chain Risks, Impacts, and Opportunities to over 90 registered participants. Legal Committee Co-Chair, Christopher Knight, introduced the special guest speaker Benjamin Kostrzewa who joined virtually from Hong Kong. Benjamin is a leading trade lawyer in Asia Pacific.  Prior to joining Hogan Lovells, Benjamin served as an assistant general counsel at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), where he handled World Trade Organization (WTO) disputes and free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations.

Benjamin began the event with an overview of the current state of global supply chain issues that the world is currently facing including interruptions of exports from China as it seems to be a keystone for many organizations. He cautioned attendees on countries potentially reversing restrictions to keep products from being unavailable in the future. It was stated that supply chains and cash flows are currently in crisis since covid-19 began in early January 2020. Benjamin stated that whether this is good or bad news, misery loves company meaning that many companies are showing understanding in slow delivery of goods. The negative side of this leniency is that companies will be less trusting of certain trade agreements as it becomes more apparent that companies will be unable to comply. Benjamin encourage listeners to get into the weeds of their contract agreements as phrases that may have been boilerplate before have now become vital with the force majeure happening with many companies. He also cautioned AMCHAM members to be aware of fraud claims that are becoming rampant as malcontents look to take advantage of this situation.

With the U.S. 2020 election just around the corner, Benjamin spoke on its importance as presidential candidates will be emphasizing the U.S-China Trade situation. Before the covid-19 crisis, tensions between the U.S. and China were relaxing though now have returned to something more antagonistic. He indicated that the result of the U.S. election would be critical in determining the future of trade relations with China. Even with this negative outlook, Benjamin remains optimistic as he assumes the world will return to globalization in the coming years.

After giving his remarks, both Christopher and Benjamin answered attendee's inquiries during a question and answer session. Benjamin's presentation is available through the AMCHAM member portal.

Special thanks to AMCHAM Legal Committe Co-Chairs, Chistopher Knight and Eric M. Meyer for organizing this discussion.

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