CENTRO INTERNAZIONALE STUDI CONTAINERS
ANNO XXXVIII - Numero APRILE 2020
UNCTAD: TEN-POINT PLAN TO BOLSTER GLOBAL TRANSPORT, EASE
TRADE DURING COVID-19
UNCTAD issues an action plan to tear down barriers to trade and
transport and ensure the free flow of goods, food and essential
As countries adopt radical measures to bring the coronavirus
pandemic under control, international trade and transport systems
are under tremendous stress.
Early evidence shows that international trade is collapsing,
threatening access to goods and critical supplies.
In response, a new UNCTAD policy brief outlines a ten-point
action plan to help industries involved in the movement of goods
keep free-flowing trade afloat during the COVID-19 crisis and its
"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," said Shamika Sirimanne, UNCTAD's director
of technology and logistics.
"Facilitating trade and the transport of goods has become
more important than ever, to avoid logistical obstacles that lead to
shortages of necessary supplies."
The policy brief presents concrete measures to facilitate
transport and trade while protecting people from contracting
It echoes an earlier call by UNCTAD Secretary-General Mukhisa
Kituyi to keep ships moving, ports open and cross-border trade
flowing during this crisis period.
The foundations for recovery from COVID-19 need to be set today.
This includes ensuring transport services, ports and border agencies
not only remain operational, but are also effectively strengthened
to cope with the unprecedented challenges they face.
The action plan is rooted in UNCTAD's work with both
international policy experts and operators on the ground, through
its trade facilitation, customs automation and maritime transport
10 steps to keep trade moving
UNCTAD proposes 10 policy measures to cover maritime transport,
customs operations, transit, transparency and legal issues, as well
as technology to enhance paperless trade processes. The plan calls
for policies that:
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 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
Transport, trade facilitation in developing countries
Developing countries face particularly challenging conditions.
They need enhanced support from the development community, as well
as cooperation to keep trade moving.
"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," said Ms. Sirimanne.
These measures require further investment in human,
institutional and technological capacities, and should thus be given
priority by development partners.
UNCTAD already works with developing countries to support their
trade and transport facilitation efforts. A key example of such
initiatives is the ASYCUDA programme, which offers a technology
solution for customs automation and a single window for trade.
UNCTAD also trains officials to build port management capacity,
works with national trade facilitation committees and provides
technical assistance to improve transport transit in developing
The committees enhance interagency coordination to facilitate
trade flows, especially in emergency situations such as the
Soon after lockdown measures commenced throughout the world,
UNCTAD issued a set of guidelines and recommendations for customs
agencies and port operators to safeguard trade and transport while
"The action plan released today, with its 10 measures is
yet another concrete step in support of safeguarding trade and
development in times of pandemic," Ms. Sirimanne concluded.
Source: United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)
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