SBA & Treasury Begin Unprecedented Public-Private Mobilization Effort to Distribute Funds

Following President Trump’s signing of the historic Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza and Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin today announced that the SBA and Treasury Department have initiated a robust mobilization effort of banks and other lending institutions to provide small businesses with the capital they need.

The CARES Act establishes a new $349 billion Paycheck Protection Program. The Program will provide much-needed relief to millions of small businesses so they can sustain their businesses and keep their workers employed.

“This unprecedented public-private partnership is going to assist small businesses with accessing capital quickly. Our goal is to position lenders as the single point-of-contact for small businesses – the application, loan processing, and disbursement of funds will all be administered at the community level,” said Administrator Carranza. “Speed is the operative word; applications for the emergency capital can begin as early as this week, with lenders using their own systems and processes to make these loans. We remain committed to supporting our nation’s more than 30 million small businesses and their employees, so that they can continue to be the fuel for our nation’s economic engine.”

“This legislation provides small business job retention loans to provide eight weeks of payroll and certain overhead to keep workers employed,” said Secretary Mnuchin. “Treasury and the Small Business Administration expect to have this program up and running by April 3rd so that businesses can go to a participating SBA 7(a) lender, bank, or credit union, apply for a loan, and be approved on the same day.  The loans will be forgiven as long as the funds are used to keep employees on the payroll and for certain other expenses.”

The new loan program will help small businesses with their payroll and other business operating expenses. It will provide critical capital to businesses without collateral requirements, personal guarantees, or SBA fees – all with a 100% guarantee from SBA. All loan payments will be deferred for six months. Most importantly, the SBA will forgive the portion of the loan proceeds that are used to cover the first eight weeks of payroll costs, rent, utilities, and mortgage interest.

The Paycheck Protection Program is specifically designed to help small businesses keep their workforce employed. Visit SBA.gov/Coronavirus for more information on the Paycheck Protection Program.

EXIM Board Approves $91.5 Million in U.S. Export Financing for Project in Senegal

WASHINGTON – The Board of Directors of the Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM) yesterday unanimously approved approximately $91.5 million in loan guarantee financing that supports U.S. exports of design engineering and construction services to the Republic of Senegal. The transaction will increase access to reliable electricity for rural communities throughout Senegal while supporting an estimated 500 U.S. jobs in 14 states: California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Wisconsin.

The transaction – which is expected to bring electricity to approximately 330,000 Senegalese in more than 400 villages – will advance four of EXIM’s priorities as set by Congress. Specifically, this transaction supports a small-business exporter, Weldy-Lamont LLC of Mt. Prospect, Illinois; the export of U.S. manufactured goods and services to sub-Saharan Africa; renewable energy technology through the export of solar panels; and the “Program on China and Transformational Exports” as outlined in EXIM’s recent reauthorization. United States-based Weldy-Lamont was selected for the project over foreign competition being supported by at least four other governments, including China.

This transaction also advances the goals of the Trump Administration’s Prosper Africa and the President’s Advisory Council on Doing Business in Africa (PAC-DBIA) initiatives, which aim to substantially increase two-way trade and investment between the United States and Africa.

“The selection of Weldy-Lamont for this project is a significant win for not only for this Illinois-headquartered small business and its workers across fourteen states, but also for the United States and Senegal,” said EXIM President and Chairman Kimberly A. Reed. “Building on my discussion with Senegal’s Minister for Economy, Planning, and Cooperation Amadou Hott during our October 18, 2019, Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signing ceremony, this transaction demonstrates Senegal’s willingness to consider alternative financing and export including those from the United States, for critical infrastructure needs beyond Chinese sources. We are pleased to support this U.S. small business as it exports its ‘Made in the U.S.A.’ renewable energy products to sub-Saharan Africa.”

“This deal fulfills several of EXIM’s goals, including supporting small businesses and competing with China on a global scale,” said EXIM Board Member Spencer Bachus III. “There’s no more important time for EXIM than today. With the spread of coronavirus, our job will be more challenging, but it will be more important than ever.”

“I can think of no better first project for us with the Republic of Senegal than this Weldy-Lamont deal to provide rural electrification to about 415 villages,” said EXIM Board Member Judith Pryor. “This deal is part of a whole-of-government approach that encompasses the goals of both Prosper Africa and Power Africa, and we are honored to work with our sister agencies toward these goals.”

The financing was approved under EXIM’s MOU with Senegal’s Ministry of Economy, Planning and Cooperation. The Senegal National Electricity Agency (Senelac) will be the borrower in the transaction and the buyer of the exports. Senegal’s Ministry of Economy, Planning and Cooperation will provide a sovereign guarantee of the financing. JP Morgan Chase is the lead arranger and mandated lender. The total cost of the project is estimated to be $100 million, with EXIM supplying 81.5 percent of the funding.

For the project, Weldy-Lamont – a Chicago-area small business with fewer than 20 employees – plans to source from a large U.S. supply chain to procure American-manufactured electrical and solar-energy equipment, as well as a variety of services. EXIM’s financing is expected to support an estimated 500 American jobs in 14 states.

The proposed project will consist of low-voltage power lines along existing roads to rural villages, with more remote villages to be served by the establishment of a mini-grid of stand-alone solar units and limited low-voltage lines. The completed project will reduce the need for community-based diesel generation of electricity and will connect hundreds of villages to the grid.

The EXIM Board initially approved a preliminary commitment on Oct. 30, 2019. In addition to EXIM, other federal agencies involved in promoting the selection of Weldy-Lamont for the project include the U.S. Departments of State and Commerce, the U.S. Agency for International Development, and the U.S. Trade and Development Agency.

EXIM Small Business Outreach and Relief Efforts

During the open portion of the meeting, the Board received an update from EXIM’s Small Business Division. Senior Vice President of Small Business Jim Burrows noted that since EXIM’s board quorum was restored in May 2019, EXIM has authorized approximately 1,635 small business transactions, totaling $1.7 billion, and supporting thousands of U.S. jobs.  

Earlier this month, EXIM instituted temporary relief measures that provide assistance to U.S. businesses, their buyers, financial institutions, and American workers negatively impacted by COVID-19 (coronavirus). Complete information is available on the coronavirus response page. “EXIM recognizes that in the months following the COVID-19 outbreak, exporting may be a challenge for many of our nation’s businesses, especially small businesses,” said Burrows. “EXIM staffers are working tirelessly to ensure our nation has the proper programs in place to provide U.S. exporters with the financing and other products necessary to export ‘Made in the U.S.A.’ goods and services.”

Office of Small Business Director of Outreach and Education Elizabeth Thomas focused on EXIM’s new digital outreach strategy, which was launched in November 2019, alignment with associations whose members would benefit from EXIM’s services, and direct customer outreach. Since the digital strategy kickoff, EXIM has engaged over 2800 “new to EXIM” contacts and attributes 73% of FY 2020 authorizations to digital outreach. Particularly given this time of COVID-19, “digital outreach allows us to stay connected with small businesses and provide much needed support in a safe and healthy way,” said Thomas.

EXIM Open for Business in 191 Countries

In additional to the voting on the Senegal project during the closed portion of the meeting, the Board of Directors also heard from EXIM’s Enterprise Risk Committee and approved changes to EXIM’s Country Limitation Schedule (CLS) that are effective April 6, 2020. The changes will be reflected at that time on EXIM’s website.

“As elevated demand for EXIM support, as well as support from competitor export credit agencies around the world can be counter-cyclical in nature, EXIM will be needed even more over the next several months to accomplish its mission to support U.S. jobs through exports,” said EXIM Chief Risk Officer Ken Tinsley, “I am confident in EXIM’s ability to execute this mission successfully while at the same time protecting the U.S. taxpayer.”

The CLS is a document that expresses whether EXIM is open or closed for business in a given market. Country conditions in markets in which EXIM is open must meet EXIM’s Charter-mandated requirement of a reasonable assurance of repayment. EXIM’s Board has established a linkage between the reasonable assurance of repayment mandate and the country risk ratings from the Interagency Country Risk Assessment System implemented by the Office of Management and Budget. These ratings, which are subject to routine evaluation, reflect the repayment risk of doing business in a market and are required to be used by all U.S. government agencies engaged in cross-border credit activities to estimate expected loss. With this update, EXIM is open for business in 191 countries.

ABOUT EXIM:

EXIM is an independent federal agency that promotes and supports American jobs by providing competitive and necessary export credit to support sales of U.S. goods and services to international buyers. A robust EXIM can level the global playing field for U.S. exporters when they compete against foreign companies that receive support from their governments. EXIM also contributes to U.S. economic growth by helping to create and sustain hundreds of thousands of jobs in exporting businesses and their supply chains across the United States. In recent years, approximately 90 percent of the total number of the agency’s authorizations has directly supported small businesses. Since 1992, EXIM has generated more than $9 billion for the U.S. Treasury for repayment of U.S. debt. 

FTC Staff Provides Annual Letter to CFPB On Fair Debt Collection Practices Act Activities

The staff of the Federal Trade Commission has provided the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) with an annual summary of the FTC’s activities enforcing the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA).

The FTC shares enforcement responsibility for the FDCPA with the CFPB, which provides an annual report to Congress about debt collection enforcement activities. The annual report, which was released today, highlights both agencies’ efforts to stop unlawful debt collection practices, including law enforcement, education and public outreach, and policy initiatives. Among the actions taken to combat unfair, deceptive, and otherwise unlawful debt collection practices in 2019, the FTC:

  • filed or resolved law enforcement actions against 25 defendants, and obtained more than $24.7 million in judgments;
  • banned 23 companies and individuals who engaged in serious and repeated violations of law from ever working in debt collection again;
  • announced the return of $516,000 to 3,977 consumers who lost money to an unlawful debt collection operation previously stopped by the FTC;
  • deployed educational materials to inform consumers about their rights, and educate debt collectors about their responsibilities, under the FDCPA and FTC Act;
  • supplied more than 27,500 copies of a fotonovela (graphic novel) on debt collection, developed for Spanish speakers, to raise awareness about scams targeting the Latino community;
  • organized and cosponsored Common Ground conferences, bringing together law enforcement personnel, consumer advocates, and community members to discuss consumer protection issues, including debt collection; and
  • hosted public forums on small business financing and credit reporting, which raised debt collection policy issues.

The letter also highlights FTC staff’s submission of a public comment on the CFPB’s proposed rules implementing the FDCPA. The comment provided an overview of the Commission’s law enforcement, policy, and education efforts to protect consumers from unlawful debt collection practices, and provided FTC staff feedback on several components of the proposed rules.

Holmes Stoner Address at Holistic Approach to Ending Homelessness:Dignifying the Needy

New York 14 Feb, Holmes Stoner, Chairman of the American International Chamber of Commerce attended and spoke at a Dignifying the Needy (CSocD58 Side Event) of United Nations conference in New York on 14 February.

The government interventions approach to ending homelessness mainly centers on quick-fix solutions of moving people experiencing homelessness into independent and permanent housing shelters, but it is important to address these complexities together when considering methods of addressing homelessness, as one strategy does not apply for every community. Affordable housing and social protection can have a tremendous impact in addressing homelessness.

For this purpose, the Side Event will Review the inter-connectedness between homelessness and poverty and health and well-being of homeless individuals or people at risk of it as well as explore options for reducing youth that is at risk of human trafficking, drug abuse, or broken homes; Elaborate on the importance of focusing on the various ways to contribute to ending homelessness, with a focus on individual roles because every contribution to supporting the cause counts; Highlight the critical importance on the preventative framework.

Holmes Stoner, Chairman of the American International Chamber of Commerce (AICC), has joined  the AICC executive team, where he will serve as senior advisor to Chief of Ecodomika Steel Structures, On behalf of the entire organization, He is grateful to Jason Quin for his years of service to the American enterprise and business people and congratulate them on this global business opportunity to continue in that calling.

Jason Quin, AICC’s Executive Chairman, will now perform the duties of the American export, economic development and membership services with Holmes Stoner and the AICC team.

Stoner said, that we were long supported and participated in UN economic cooperation and development projects, including the development and investment of steel composite housing, and implemented and carried out investment cooperation in a wider range of fields around the world to support the innovation, development and growth of member enterprises project.

The fifty-eighth session of the Commission for Social Development (CSocD58) will take place from 10 to 19 February 2020. The Commission is the advisory body responsible for the social development pillar of global development.

In 2020, we are celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Commission and the 25th anniversary of the Copenhagen Declaration on Social Development. 2020 is a crucial year for the accelerated realization of inclusive societies and reducing inequalities everywhere for people of all ages.

The Dignifying the Needy (CSocD58 Side Event) priority theme on Affordable housing and social protection systems for all to address homelessness this year.

  •  Opening of the session
  •  Election of officers
  • Adoption of the agenda and other organizational matters – Item 2 – E/CN.5/2020/1
  • Follow-up to the World Summit for Social Development and the twenty-fourth special session of the General Assembly – Item 3
  • Priority theme: affordable housing and social protection systems for all to address homelessness – Item 3 (a) – E/CN.5/2020/2, E/CN.5/2020/3
  • Review of relevant United Nations plans and programmes of action pertaining to the situation of social groups – Item 3 (b) – A/75/61-E/2020/4, E/CN.5/2020/4
  • Emerging issues: twenty-five years of the World Summit for Social Development: addressing emerging societal challenges to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development – Item 3 (c) – E/CN.5/2020/5
  • Introductory statements
  • General discussion on item 3 (a) and (b)

Secretary Mnuchin to Attend G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting in Saudi Arabia

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of the Treasury today announced that Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin will travel to Saudi Arabia to attend the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting in Riyadh from February 22-23, 2020.

“This trip will focus on advancing the Trump Administration’s economic agenda and working with international partners to address key economic and security issues to strengthen global growth,” said Secretary Mnuchin. “Meetings at the G20 provide an opportunity to continue productive engagement on a range of important issues, including international taxation, debt transparency and sustainability, digital assets, and efforts to combat terrorist financing.”

In Riyadh, Secretary Mnuchin will participate in the official G20 program and meet with his international counterparts, including with leaders from Saudi Arabia, Argentina, Canada, the European Union, Japan, Mexico, South Korea, and the United Kingdom.

Following the G20 meetings, Secretary Mnuchin will visit Abu Dhabi and Doha, where he will participate in bilateral meetings focused specifically on countering the financing of terrorist activities.

NOTE: Details are subject to change. Further information regarding the Secretary’s schedule will be made available in the days ahead. The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Public Engagement Schedule.

Department of Commerce Renews Temporary General License for 45 Days

Today, the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) of the U.S. Department of Commerce announced it was extending a Temporary General License (TGL) for Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. and its non-U.S. affiliates on the Entity List for an additional 45 days.  The TGL was implemented as a measure to prevent interruption of existing network communication systems in rural U.S. regions and permit global network security measures.  The TGL is intended to allow time for companies and persons to shift to alternative sources of equipment, software and technology (i.e., those not produced by Huawei or one of its listed affiliates).  

The 45-day extension is necessary to allow existing telecommunication providers—particularly those in rural U.S. communities—the ability to continue to temporarily and securely operate existing networks while they identify alternatives to Huawei for future operation.  American technology should not be acquired by Huawei and its foreign affiliates and used in a manner that undermines U.S. national security or foreign policy interests.  During the next 45 days, the Department intends to determine the need for any future extensions of the TGL. 

The TGL amends the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) to authorize specific, limited engagement in transactions involving the export, reexport, and transfer of items subject to the EAR to Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. and non-U.S. affiliates on the Entity List until April 1, 2020.  

Huawei was added to the Entity List after the U.S. government concluded the company poses a significant risk of involvement in activities contrary to the national security or foreign policy interests of the United States, including, by engaging, among other things, in alleged violations of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), conspiracy to violate IEEPA by providing prohibited financial services to Iran, and obstruction of justice in connection with the investigation of those alleged violations of U.S. sanctions, among other illicit activities, including charges of conspiracy to commit racketeering activities announced by the Department of Justice today.

The Bureau of Industry and Security’s mission is to advance U.S. national security and foreign policy objectives by ensuring an effective export control and treaty compliance system and promoting continued U.S. strategic technology leadership. BIS is committed to preventing U.S.-origin items from supporting Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) projects, terrorism, or destabilizing military modernization programs. 

U.S. Economy Grows 1.9 Percent in Third Quarter

Today, the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) released the third quarter GDP growth number for 2019. The Bureau found that real gross domestic product increased at an annual rate of 1.9 percent in the third quarter.

“Today’s report shows that the U.S. economy continues its steady growth in defiance of media skeptics calling for a recession,” said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. “Since President Trump took office, wages have surged, unemployment has hit record lows, and poverty has fallen for all Americans, including the country’s most vulnerable.”

In the third quarter, U.S. consumer spending grew a healthy 2.9 percent, as American consumer confidence continued to buoy our country’s economic strength. Spending on durable goods led and jumped 7.6 percent from the second quarter. Business intellectual property investment rose 6.6 percent, signaling that American business will continue to lead the world with new ideas and inventions. The 1.6 percent growth in goods exports demonstrates that President Trump’s trade policies are bringing Made in America back.

This quarter’s growth number builds on a strong legacy of economic growth and accomplishments under President Donald Trump.

In September 2019, unemployment in the U.S. fell to 3.5 percent, hitting the lowest level in 50 years. The unemployment rate for Hispanic Americans and African Americans were also at record lows. The total numbers of employed Americans hit the highest level on record. Between 2017 and 2018, 2.3 million moreAmericans gained full-time, year-round employment, including 1.6 million women.

This has translated to higher incomes for average Americans. The Census Bureau reported in September that real median household income rose to more than $63,000 in 2018, the highest level in nearly two decades. Between 2017 and 2018, real median earnings of full-time, year-round workers rose 3.4% and 3.3% for men and women respectively. This good news tracks with Labor Department numbers, which marked more than a year of consecutive year-over-year hourly wage increases of 3.0 percent or higher. Before 2018, wage gains had not hit 3 percent since 2009.

The poverty rate has tumbled as well. In 2018, the poverty rate fell by 0.5 percent to the lowest level since 2001, as the growing economy lifted 1.7 million Americans out of poverty since just 2017. Disadvantaged groups such as Hispanic Americans and African Americans saw the largest poverty reductions. America’s children saw a 1.2 percentage points in poverty, while poverty for single mothers fell by 2.5 percentage points.

President Donald Trump’s economic and trade policies are delivering wins for the American people. A strong economy is lifting millions out of poverty and giving American workers long overdue pay increases.