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Thursday, March 23, 2023

Supply Chains Must be Maximized in Fight Against COVID-19

Through a joint statement on the crucial importance of resilient and sustainable integrated supply chains to the global recovery from COVID-19, eight United Nations bodies have encouraged countries to realize more effective coordination and cooperation between transportation modes, and across borders.

“We are calling on all governments to maximize the contribution of international trade and supply chains to a sustainable socio-economic recovery in post-COVID-19 times, through greater use of international legal instruments and standards, as well as strengthened regional and sectoral cooperation,” declared International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Secretary General Dr. Fang Liu.

The statement was signed by Dr. Liu and the heads of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, the International Maritime Organization, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and Caribbean, the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia.

It points to a number of specific mechanisms, such as the United Nations TIR Convention and its eTIR International System, the CMR Convention and its eCMR Protocol and the Automated System for Customs Data (ASYCUDA), and international standards for data exchange, noting that “these instruments allow for moving cargo across borders without requiring physical checks and for reducing contact between people.

Prior to the crisis, the maritime transportation industry carried more than 108.9 trillion tonne-km yearly. It carried more than 80 per cent of global trade by volume, and 60 to 70 per cent of global trade by value. Two million seafarers operated the world’s merchant ships. 

Air transport carried about 4.5 billion passengers and 223 billion freight tonne-km in 2019, while air freight represents 35 percent of the value of goods shipped in all transport modes combined. The total number of licensed aviation professionals, which include pilots, air traffic controllers and licensed maintenance technicians, was 887,000 in 2019. 

The inland transport modes (road, rail and inland navigation) provide vital links for intra-regional trade in all regions of the world. In the pan-European region they moved 6.15 trillion tonne-km by road, 6.09 trillion tonne-km by rail, and 654 billion tonne-km by inland waterways.

For air transport specifically, countries are invited to follow the key principles presented in the ICAO Council Aviation Recovery Task Force (CART) Report and implement its recommendations and guidelines.

“We are encouraging States to take a risk-based approach to restoring connectivity with minimal restrictions while preventing the spread of COVID-19, protecting the health and safety of drivers, crew and border agency personnel,” Dr. Liu said. Here, the implementation of Public Health Corridors will be of special importance to ensuring “COVID-19 free” flight operations.

ICAO is also providing States with assistance in regard to the implementation of its COVID-19 recovery materials, including through the organization of webinars. A webinar series on air cargo digitalization, which is scheduled to kick off on September 29 2020, will directly support the achievement of the objectives of this joint statement.

Read the statement in full at UNECE

Kylie Bielby
Kylie Bielby has more than 20 years' experience in reporting and editing a wide range of security topics, covering geopolitical and policy analysis to international and country-specific trends and events. Before joining GTSC's Homeland Security Today staff, she was an editor and contributor for Jane's, and a columnist and managing editor for security and counter-terror publications.

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