10 ways to bolster global trade during pandemic

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) issues an action plan to tear down barriers to trade and transport and ensure the free flow of goods, food and essential supplies.  Lee Kok Leong, executive editor, Maritime Fairtrade, reports

As countries adopt radical measures to bring the coronavirus pandemic under control, international trade and transport systems are under tremendous stress.  Early evidence shows that international trade is collapsing, threatening access to goods and critical supplies.

In response, a new UNCTAD policy brief outlines a ten-point action plan to help industries involved in the movement of goods keep free-flowing trade afloat during the COVID-19 crisis and its aftermath.

“Trade facilitation is about keeping goods moving, so we must do our utmost to ensure the crisis doesn’t slow the movement of critical supplies,” said Shamika Sirimanne, UNCTAD’s director of technology and logistics.  “Facilitating trade and the transport of goods has become more important than ever, to avoid logistical obstacles that lead to shortages of necessary supplies.”

Keep trade moving, global transport going

  • Ensure uninterrupted shipping
  • Keep ports open
  • Protect international trade of critical goods and speed up customs clearance and trade facilitation
  • Facilitate cross-border transport
  • Ensure the right of transit
  • Safeguard transparency and up-to-date information
  • Promote paperless systems
  • Address early-on legal implications for commercial parties
  • Protect shippers and transport service providers alike
  • Prioritize technical assistance

The policy brief calls on governments to ensure health measures are implemented in ports and border crossings in ways that minimize interference with international traffic and trade. It also emphasizes the need for people involved in the movement of trucks, ships, and planes to be given the status of critical personnel.

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