In these extraordinarily challenging times, the International Council of Chemical Associations (ICCA) is committed to partnering with governments around the world to moderate the impact of COVID-19 and support much-needed relief and recovery efforts.

ICCA members are already making a valuable contribution by applying prudent measures to prevent the spread of infection at our sites; maintaining production through the crisis and recovery; and providing science-based solutions to these challenges.

Today, we are calling on G20 Leaders to increase international coordination and prioritize multilateral responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fostering a globally coordinated response

In a letter dated April 21, ICCA leaders representing global chemicals industries across the world urge G20 leaders to “foster a globally coordinated response” to the pandemic.

“All segments of society have a role to play to help limit the spread of coronavirus and protect public health, especially those who are most vulnerable… We value your support for our industry to continue to engage and innovate necessary solutions, processes and products to combat the COVID-19 virus,” the letter states.

In the letter, ICCA offers five key recommendations to implement on an international scale to help defeat COVID-19, help save lives, and position the global economy for recovery.

  1. Designating chemical manufacturers and downstream value chains as essential businesses;
  • Coordinating globally and regionally with industry to ease supply chain constraints;
  • Supporting and facilitating supply chains for products essential for combatting COVID-19 as well as the value chain materials comprising those products;
  • Committing immediately to a standstill and rollback of trade-distorting measures on products essential for combatting COVID-19; and
  • Providing facilitating and financing support to suppliers of small- and medium-sized enterprises manufacturing products essential for combatting COVID-19, as well as the value chain materials comprising those products, to bolster supply chains and trade flows.

You can access the full letter and recommendations here.

Chemistry’s essential role in combating COVID-19

The global chemical manufacturing industry is a $5.7 trillion enterprise that touches nearly all aspects of the world’s economy. The chemical industry supports a vast supply chain. In fact, 96 percent of all manufactured goods rely on chemistry.

The role of chemistry is particularly important during the pandemic, as chemicals enable countless products that will be needed to treat those who are infected with the coronavirus in the weeks and months ahead; ensure the safety and health of healthcare workers through personal protective equipment; and support good hygiene, sanitation, and cleaning in all countries. As indicated in the letter, ICCA welcomes individual actions by governments to temporarily suspend or reduce customs duties on necessary imports of chemicals other related products relevant to pandemic response production.

Below are some of the essential ways products of chemistry are helping to fight the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • Chemical biocides and disinfectants are active ingredients in cleaning products that eliminate bacteria and viruses on a personal, household and industrial scale, and in particular with respect to medical environmental and treatments.
  • Polypropylene and other polycarbonate materials are necessary to produce syringes, surgical instruments, and IV components. Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is used in medical tubing, blood and IV bags. Polypropylene is a key component of medical-grade personal protective equipment including masks (non-woven), face shields, and other body protectives; sanitizer bottle and dispensers; and gowns.
  • Personal hygiene products including diapers, soaps, detergents, hand sanitizers, toothpastes and antiseptics (e.g., chlorine bleach, hydrogen peroxide, isopropyl alcohol, and oxo-alcohols) rely on chemicals and chemical production.
  • Chemicals are necessary to produce and industrialize food, and fertilize and protect crops; chlorine chemistry is essential to protecting our nations’ drinking water.
  • A range of chemicals serve as ingredients in over-the-counter and prescription medications.
  • Packaging and hygienic single-use products help prevent contamination of food, personal care products, and medical products as well as person-to-person transmission of disease-causing microorganisms.
  • The chemical industry also enables energy-efficient building materials and hygienic coatings for fast-track construction of safe and secure hospitals.