UNCTAD Unveils 10-Point Covid Plan  

Global) Aims to Bolster Global Transport Framework

The United Nations has issued a 10-point plan to bolster global transport, providing a framework for breakbulk operators and logistics firms to continue trading.

The policy brief outlines measures to help the transport industry keep free-flowing trade afloat and ensure vital outsized shipments continue moving.

“Trade facilitation is about keeping goods moving, so we must do our utmost to ensure the crisis doesn’t slow the movement of critical supplies. Facilitating trade and the transport of goods has become more important than ever, to avoid logistical obstacles that lead to shortages of necessary supplies,” said Shamika Sirimanne, director of technology and logistics for the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, or UNCTAD.

Transport Prioritization

The 10 policy measures call for shipping lanes and ports to remain open and to protirze critical goods. Given widespread shutdowns, UNCTAD also calls on governments to recognize the critical importance of transport operators and to maximize transparency in border transactions.

“The policy brief calls on governments to ensure health measures are implemented in ports and border crossings in ways that minimize interference with international traffic and trade. It also emphasizes the need for people involved in the movement of trucks, ships, and planes to be given the status of critical personnel,” a UNCTAD spokesperson said.

UNCTAD's 10 policy measures to cover maritime transport, customs operations, transit, transparency and legal issues, as well as technology to enhance paperless trade processes, are:

1. Ensure uninterrupted shipping.
2. Keep ports open
3. Protect international trade of critical goods and speed up customs clearance and trade facilitation
4. Facilitate cross-border transport.

5. Ensure the right of transit.
6. Safeguard transparency and up-to-date information
7. Promote paperless systems
8. Address early-on legal implications for commercial parties
9. Protect shippers and transport service providers alike
10. Prioritize technical assistance.

The full report is available here.

Established in 1964, UNCTAD is  a permanent intergovernmental body and part of the United Nations Secretariat dealing with trade, investment, and development issues. 

Developing Nations

While the rapid slowdown between the world’s major economies has created the most headlines, UNCTAD has warned of long-term implications for developing nations caused by the current meausres.
“Even before COVID-19 struck, many developing countries were already confronted with the challenge of having limited resources to make the necessary investments in transport infrastructure and services, and undertake trade facilitation reforms,” Sirimanne said.

To tackle these shortfalls, UNCTAD has called for greater investment in new technologies such as customs automation or single window trading.
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