COVID-19: Maritime bosses call on G20 to do more

The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and the International Association of Ports and Harbours (IAPH) have joined forces to call on G20 leaders to act quickly to protect global supply chains from the impact of COVID-19.  Lee Kok Leong, executive editor, Maritime Fairtrade, reports

In an open letter, the two organizations representing the global shipping industry and the world’s ports and harbors stated that in this time of global crisis, it is more important than ever to keep supply chains open and maritime trade and transport moving. 

They said leadership from the G20 in calling for a coordinated approach by governments, working in conjunction with the UN International Maritime Organization, WHO, and other relevant agencies is therefore of the utmost importance.

90 percent of global trade is transported by commercial shipping.  The shipping industry moves the world’s food, energy and raw materials, as well as manufactured goods and components.  The goods include vital medical supplies, many products sold in supermarkets, and items that are necessary (due to complex supply chains) for the preservation of many jobs in manufacturing – without which modern society simply cannot function.

Guy Platten, Secretary General of the International Chamber of Shipping 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 knee-jerk restrictions to protect us all from COVID-19.  We need pragmatic, science-based and harmonized 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.”

Patrick Verhoeven, Managing Director of the International Association of Ports and Harbors added: “Whilst the primary objective of protecting public health should not be jeopardized 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 joint letter has been sent to G20 government leaders and UN bodies ahead of their extraordinary G20 summit on Tuesday, 24 June 2020.

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