COSCO Shipping Lines (COSCON) has signed a cooperation agreement with the United Nations' food assistance branch World Food Programme (WFP).
Under the agreement, COSCON will provide discounted shipping services to transport food and other aid materials for the WFP and the UN. Amid the well-documented equipment crunch, WFP and the UN are assured of adequate containers.
The agreement was signed in late May, few weeks after the visit of WFP's global supply chain officer, Henrik Hansen, to COSCON Italy's office in Genoa on 11 March, when the two organisations discussed cooperation in supply chain services.
Headquartered in Rome, WFP is the world's largest humanitarian agency, responsible for the transportation of food, disaster relief, epidemic prevention and other aid materials for the UN on a global scale, in aiding 100 million people in 88 countries in Eastern Europe, South Asia, Southeast Asia and South America.
COSCON said that as WFP's cargoes comprise humanitarian aid, the UN agency's requirements for container conditions and delivery dates are all higher than those of general shippers.
In 2020, the wider COSCO group established a communication mechanism with WFP, designating COSCON Italy to form a dedicated marketing team for the UN agency.
COSCON said that its strong working relationship with WFP helped the agency to overcome the difficulties caused by the Covid-19 pandemic that saw Italy locked down from 9 March to 18 May last year.