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UNCTAD says maritime transport crucial in battle against Covid-19

As the world battles the coronavirus pandemic, the global maritime transport industry is playing a critical role in the response to the virus, according to United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) sent a letter-call to all governments on 19 March to keep maritime trade moving and UNCTAD marks the high importance of that in the fight against Covid-19.

Dr. Mukhisa Kituyi, Secretary-General of UNCTAD, says “it is more important than ever to keep supply chains open and to allow maritime trade and cross-border transport to continue,” as around 80% of global trade is transported by commercial shipping.

“This means keeping the world’s ports open for ship calls and the movement of ships’ crews with as few obstacles as possible,” adds Dr. Kituyi.

He highlights that transit needs to be facilitated, too and landlocked countries need access to food and medical supplies through neighbouring countries’ seaports.

Facing the current pandemic, cross-border movements of relief goods such as food and medical supplies will increase dramatically. Restrictions on trade and cross-border transport may interrupt needed aid and technical support, could disrupt businesses and have negative social and economic effects on the affected countries, according to a statement.

UNCTAD believes that governments should therefore continue to facilitate movement of, not only relief goods, but also goods in general, to minimise the negative impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

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