The G20 leaders have been called upon by the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and the International Association of Ports and Harbours (IAPH) to take prompt action in regards to the impact of COVID-19 on the global supply chains. The two organisations that represent the global shipping industry and the world’s ports and harbours have written an open letter that sets out:
“In this time of global crisis, it is more important than ever to keep supply chains open and maritime trade and transport moving. Leadership from the G20 in calling for a co-ordinated approach by governments, working in conjunction with the UN International Maritime Organization, WHO, and other relevant agencies is therefore of the utmost importance.”
The letter also emphasised that:
“90% of global trade is transported by commercial shipping, which moves the world’s food, energy and raw materials, as well as manufactured goods and components – including vital medical supplies and many products sold in supermarkets, items that are necessary (due to complex supply chains) for the preservation of many jobs in manufacturing – without which modern society simply cannot function.”
The letter has been forwarded to all G20 government leaders and UN bodies who will convene for a virtual summit in the coming days as the world races to contain the virus.
Secretary-General of the International Chamber of Shipping, Guy Platten said:
“Shipping is the lifeblood of the world. Without the efficient and safe transportation of food, medical supplies, raw materials and fuel, countries could face an even more difficult situation than the one we are all facing. We need nations, led by the G20, to work together to provide coordinated rather than kneejerk restrictions to protect us all from COVID-19. We need pragmatic, science-based and harmonised guidance for the global maritime sector that ensures the safe delivery of the goods that we are all going to rely upon in the coming months. This is a simple ask that can deliver a win-win for all.”
Managing Director of the International Association of Ports and Harbors, Patrick Verhoeven added:
“While the primary objective of protecting public health should not be jeopardised in any way, ports must remain fully operational with all their regular services in place, guaranteeing complete functionality of supply chains. Governments should support shipping, ports and transport operators in doing everything possible to allow transport of goods in and out of ports so that food, medicine and other vital supplies will continue to reach people worldwide.”
The International Chamber of Shipping has created a Coronavirus (COVID-19) guide for protecting the health of seafarers (and passengers) along with the general public. The guide can be downloaded here.