Interaction with U.S. Consul General Patti Hoffman, U.S. Consulate General Kolkata – 7th April 2020
On April 7th, AMCHAM’s Eastern Region organized a conference call meeting with the U.S. Consul General Patti Hoffman and members. The session highlighted some of the operational issues the ER members were facing in areas of critical operation for their organizations. American companies discussed some difficulties they faced regarding their operations with the Consul General and sought to seek a solution to enable smooth operations during these critical times. Some member companies also spoke about their success stories working through AMCHAM and West Bengal Government agencies.
Consul General Hoffman spoke about the Consulate’s efforts in various sections. She said the Consulate was working with a core team of officers answering phones and dealing with American citizen concerns. She shared about the evacuation program to help American citizens leave the country. She gave special mention to the assistance received from AMCHAM member organization, Hyatt Regency, in hosting the citizens till they were able to evacuate them successfully and thanked Mr. Shobhan Kumar, General Manager, Hyatt Regency, for taking special care of U.S. citizens. Consul General Hoffman mentioned that the Consulate was engaged directly with some companies on their concerns and spoke about the advocacy the U.S. Consulate was doing in Assam and West Bengal. She said that across the U.S. Mission there were representatives from CDC and National Institute of Health working on issues surrounding COVID-19. She mentioned two sources of information and assistance available to businesses in India cope with their issues during this pandemic: The Invest India Business Immunity Platform: https://www.investindia.gov.in/bip?utm_source=popup and the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) website that has been running a banner on their webpage (https://dgft.gov.in/) with the information on the help-desk reading “For any COVID-19 related Import-Export issue, you may please inform us through our CONTACT@DGFT Platform or by emailing at email@example.com. You may also call at the Toll Free number 1800-111-550.” In addition there is a list of other officials from regional offices on the help desk https://dgft.gov.in/contacts/help-desk
The Consul General said that in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the State Department and USAID were providing an initial investment of nearly $274 million in emergency health and humanitarian assistance to help countries in need, on top of the funding already provide to multilateral organizations such as the World Health Organization and UNICEF. On March 28, the U.S. Government, through USAID, announced $2.9 million to support India in its response to the novel coronavirus disease. This built on a foundation of more than $1.4 billion in health assistance and nearly $3 billion in total assistance, that the United States has provided to India over the last 20 years. The Q&A session that followed helped members to connect and share common issues. Mr. Gulshan Sachdev, National Executive Member, AMCAHM, gave his comments on the impact of COVID 19. Ms. Amada Kidwai, Regional Director – Eastern Region, AMCHAM, gave the introductions and moderated the session.