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ICS, IAPH in joint call for G20 to support maritime sector and global supply chains

The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and International Association of Ports and Harbours (IAPH) have jointly called on G20 leaders to support the maritime sector and global supply chains from the impact of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

In an open letter to G20 leaders, the two organisations urged the importance of ensuring supply chains are kept open and maritime trade and transport continue moving.

“Leadership from the G20 in calling for a coordinated approach by governments, working in conjunction with the UN International Maritime Organisation, WHO, and other relevant agencies is therefore of the utmost importance,” the open letter stated.

Last week, ICS and International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) also wrote an open letter to four UN bodies calling for crew changes to be facilitated during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The ICS-IAPH joint open letter has been sent to G20 leaders and UN bodies ahead of their extraordinary G20 summit on 24 March.

The letter highlighted that 90% of global trade is transported by commercial shipping, which 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.

Guy Platten, secretary general of ICS, said: “Shipping is 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.

“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,” he said.

Patrick Verhoeven, managing director of IAPH, added: “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.”