Stronger coronavirus protection urged for supply chains

Port operations being carried out. Credit: WPSP

Global supply chains must be protected from the impact of COVID-19, leading maritime associations have warned in an open letter issued by the International Association of Ports and Harbours (IAPH) and the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS).

In light of certain governments choosing to limit access to ports and allow free passage of seafarers in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, the letter aims to remind the G20 Leaders the importance of keeping maritime trade and transport moving unhindered.

“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,” said Patrick Verhoeven, managing director IAPH.

90% of global trade is transported by commercial shipping including manufactured good as well as vital medical supplies, these items are necessary for the preservation of manufacturing jobs without which a modern society cannot function, stressed the letter.

“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 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,” said Guy Platten, secretary general ICS.

The joint letter was sent to G20 government leaders and UN bodies ahead of the G20 summit taking place by teleconference on 24 March.

To read the full letter, please click here.