Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation and US-ASEAN Business Council Announce Collaboration to Identify COVID-19 Vaccine Import Challenges in ASEAN Countries

The Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation (the Alliance) and the US-ASEAN Business Council (USABC) announce they are joining forces to test the readiness and improve the efficiency of ASEAN countries to import Covid-19 vaccines and related medical equipment. By end of 2020, through their knowledge of trade facilitation, deep regional expertise, and links with key private sector players in life sciences, logistics, express delivery, and technology, the two organisations will identify the obstacles to distributing vaccines and related medical equipment in the region in order to help ASEAN countries bring an end to the pandemic.

The Alliance, a unique public-private partnership dedicated to supporting trade facilitation reforms in developing and least developed countries across the globe, and the USABC, the premier advocacy organisation for US corporations in South East Asia, will conduct an in-country diagnostic of the processes involved in importing vaccines and related medical equipment to identify the barriers and challenges impeding or delaying their timely delivery, a tabletop test to simulate a real-world shipment, and a physical dummy shipment test to confirm the conclusions of the tabletop exercise. The findings will be used to inform ASEAN countries’ preparations for the distribution of the Covid-19 vaccine and related medical equipment.

The two organisations each bring their unique expertise to the project. The Alliance will provide overall project management and technical trade facilitation expertise while the USABC will liaise with ASEAN country governments and provide on-the-ground support leveraging their strategic and diplomatic experience. Throughout their collaboration both organisations will engage deeply with their extensive networks of global businesses which will play a key role, bringing their expertise in moving health products around the world on a daily basis.

Philippe Isler, Director, Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation, said:
“We are delighted to be working with the USABC to identify the obstacles to importing Covid-19 vaccines and related medical equipment into ASEAN member developing countries. The fact that volumes will be extraordinary, that parallel supply chains will need to converge at single points, that paperwork may slow down processes and that the cold chain will need to be maintained are all unique trade facilitation challenges that the Alliance can address. This joint initiative – using our expertise of delivering projects that make it easier for businesses to move goods across borders – will identify what needs to be done to overcome these obstacles to ensure doses of the vaccine are readily available across South East Asia.”

Amb. Michael Michalak (ret.), US-ASEAN Business Council, said:
“USABC represents some of the leading voices in the global race for a Covid-19 vaccine—ranging from vaccine and equipment manufacturers, to logistics providers, and technology companies. The effective distribution of a Covid-19 vaccine across ASEAN will not be possible without meticulous planning, led by governments and supported by private industry stakeholders. The only thing worse than not receiving the vaccine in your country would be to see it wasted because of bottlenecks in the delivery system. We hope to eliminate those. We have already seen enthusiasm from ASEAN countries eager to participate in this exercise. To that end, we are proud to partner with the Alliance on this critical initiative.”

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For over 35 years, the US-ASEAN Business Council has been the premier advocacy organization for US corporations operating within the dynamic Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Worldwide, the Council's membership, more than 160 companies, generate over $6 trillion in revenue and employ more than 13 million people globally. Members include the largest US companies conducting business in ASEAN, and range from newcomers to the region to companies that have been working in Southeast Asia for over 100 years. The Council has offices in: Washington, DC; New York, NY; Bangkok, Thailand; Hanoi, Vietnam; Jakarta, Indonesia; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Manila, Philippines; and Singapore.