A new joint UN project is seeking to help governments and businesses keep transport networks and borders operational and facilitate the flow of goods and services, while containing the spread of the coronavirus.
The initiative brings together UNCTAD and the five UN regional commissions for Africa (ECA), Europe (ECE), Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), and Western Asia (ESCWA), with funding managed by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs.
The project comprises three clusters designed to match existing and emerging standards and best practices in transport and trade facilitation with new concerns and demands arising from COVID-19 on cross-border freight transport operations and trade transactions.
The first cluster focuses on contactless solutions and good practices. It aims at reducing physical contact among people in cross-border supply chains by facilitating the flow of goods without spreading the virus.
This will be done by implementing UN conventions and standards for seamless harmonized electronic exchange of data in digital transport corridors, border crossings and trade operations, as well as developing smart rail and road connectivity.
The second cluster is geared towards maximizing seamless connectivity. It focuses on eliminating obstacles to cross-border trade and transport operations arising from the COVID-19 crisis. It aims at promoting synergies among border agencies by empowering national trade facilitation committees, improving customs automation and identifying non-tariff barriers.
The third cluster focuses on collaborative solutions on transport, trade and logistics operations by strengthening regional and sectoral cooperation to facilitate joint actions and solutions in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.
It will give special attention to international transit issues, which are multilateral, and sectoral cooperation for ports as nodes of the global maritime shipping network, rooted in regional and national contexts.