International calls for G20 to protect global supply chains

Two international maritime authorities have joined forces to call on G20 leaders to take measures that will protect global supply chains from the impacts of COVID-19.

The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and the International Association of Ports and Harbours (IAPH) have penned an open letter calling on international leaders to take swift action.

The two organisations, representing the global shipping industry and the world’s ports and harbours, set out that:

“In this time of global crisis, it is more important than ever to keep supply chains open and maritime trade and transport moving. Leadership from the G20 in calling for a co-ordinated approach by governments, working in conjunction with the UN International Maritime Organization, WHO, and other relevant agencies is therefore of the utmost importance.”

The letter also highlighted that around 90 per cent of global trade is transported by commercial shipping.

The sector “moves the world’s food, energy and raw materials, as well as manufactured goods and components – including vital medical supplies and many products sold in supermarkets, items that are necessary (due to complex supply chains) for the preservation of many jobs in manufacturing – without which modern society simply cannot function”, the letter read.

The joint letter has been sent to G20 government leaders and UN bodies ahead of their G20 Summit on Tuesday 24 June 2020.

Guy Platten, Secretary General of the International Chamber of Shipping, said that shipping was “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,” Mr Platten said.

“We need nations, led by the G20, to work together to provide coordinated rather than kneejerk restrictions to protect us all from COVID-19. We need pragmatic, science-based and harmonised 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 that whilst the primary objective of protecting public health should not be jeopardised 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,” Mr Verhoeven said.

Expressing his support of the open letter, Melwyn Noronha, Deputy Chief Executive of Shipping Australia, said freight and logistics were vital to Australia’s supply chain.

“The port supply chain should be viewed as an essential service as governments assess further stages beyond the current shutdown measures,” Mr Noronha said.

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