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UN agencies say international transport and supply chains key to COVID-19 recovery

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The early responses to restrain the negative impacts of COVID-19 had operationally paralyzed the supply chain and all trade flow operations around the globe. Eight UN organizations stress that international transport and integrated supply chains are critical in recovering from COVID-19 in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi mentioned in a statement that to ensure that ships keep moving, ports remain open and cross-border trade continues, it is essential to implement further reforms into digitalization and the dematerialization of processes. Many of their UNCTAD solutions help to achieve this. He added that it is important to highlight that these solutions help ensure smoother trade and the protection of transport workers and the population from the virus.

In order to maximize the contribution of international trade to recovery, the signatories call on all governments to maximize the contribution of international trade and supply chains for recovery through a greater use of international legal instruments and standards, as well as strengthened regional and sectoral cooperation.

The signatories also extend their support to further enhance the scope of digitalization of trade and customs procedures, using global United Nations standards, to ensure the fast and secure exchange of data and information concerning cargo and means of transport and contactless clearances. They seek to encourage and uplift all governments to take a risk-based approach in order to restore air, inland and maritime connectivity with minimal restrictions, while preventing the spread of COVID-19 at the same time. In this process, they want governments to pay special emphasis on protecting the health and safety of drivers, crew and border agency personnel. They believe this will also help in strengthening public confidence in trade and transport means once again.