‘MOVE­MENT OF FOOD, MED­I­CAL SUP­PLIES MUST GO SMOOTHLY’

BusinessMirror - - Front Page - By Eli­jah Felice Ros­ales

THE United Nations Con­fer­ence on Trade and Devel­op­ment (Unctad) is ask­ing gov­ern­ments to avoid im­ple­ment­ing re­stric­tions on move­ment of goods, as this hin­ders the ship­ment of food and med­i­cal sup­plies crit­i­cally needed by many coun­tries right now.

In a state­ment on Thurs­day, Unctad Sec­re­tary-gen­eral Mukhisa Ki­tuyi called on gov­ern­ments to keep mar­itime trade mov­ing at a time the world is grap­pling with the coro­n­avirus pandemic. As such, com­mer­cial ships should be al­lowed to dock on ports world­wide and to change their crews, he said.

Unctad es­ti­mates re­ported that around 80 per­cent of global trade is trans­ported by com­mer­cial ships, car­ry­ing food, en­ergy and raw ma­te­ri­als, as well as man­u­fac­tured goods and parts.

“This in­cludes vi­tal med­i­cal sup­plies, which are sorely needed at this time, and items that are nec­es­sary for the preser­va­tion of many jobs in man­u­fac­tur­ing—with­out which mod­ern so­ci­ety can­not func­tion,” Ki­tuyi said. “In this time of global cri­sis, it is more im­por­tant than ever to keep sup­ply chains open to al­low mar­itime trade and cross-bor­der trans­port to con­tinue.”

“This means keep­ing the world’s ports open for ship calls and the move­ment of ships’ crews with as few ob­sta­cles as pos­si­ble,” he added.

Fur­ther, Ki­tuyi re­minded gov­ern­ments to fa­cil­i­tate tran­sit by land, as land­locked coun­tries need ac­cess to food and med­i­cal goods by way of their neigh­bors’ ports. In fac­ing the pandemic, he said cross-bor­der move­ments of re­lief goods will in­crease dra­mat­i­cally,

so it’s just prac­ti­cal to keep bor­ders open for trade.

“Re­stric­tions on trade and cross-bor­der trans­port may in­ter­rupt needed aid and tech­ni­cal sup­port. It could dis­rupt businesses and have neg­a­tive so­cial and eco­nomic ef­fects on af­fected coun­tries,” Ki­tuyi said.

“Gov­ern­ments should there­fore con­tinue to fa­cil­i­tate move­ment not only of re­lief goods, but goods in gen­eral, to min­i­mize the neg­a­tive im­pact of the Covid-19 out­break,” he added.

In the Philip­pines, the Depart­ment of Trade and In­dus­try (DTI) has is­sued a mem­o­ran­dum al­low­ing the un­ham­pered move­ment of cargo trucks across Lu­zon in spite of the is­land-wide com­mu­nity quarantine in place.

How­ever, var­i­ous businesses have lamented hav­ing their de­liv­er­ies dis­rupted or de­layed in the many check­points set up in both metro and ru­ral ar­eas. Ex­porters, for in­stance, de­cried the im­ple­ment­ing of­fi­cers on the ground have dif­fer­ent in­ter­pre­ta­tions of the or­der.

Many of the land, air and sea travel to and from the Philip­pines are sus­pended un­til April 13, as the gov­ern­ment tries to ar­rest the ris­ing num­ber of coro­n­avirus cases in the country. Classes and work in nonessen­tial sec­tors are called off, as peo­ple are or­dered to stay home as part of ef­forts to slow down the in­fec­tion rate.

NONIE REYES

A FIRE vol­un­teer in Pasig City sprays dis­in­fec­tant on ve­hi­cles pass­ing the area, 10 days af­ter the gov­ern­ment de­clared an en­hanced com­mu­nity quarantine in Lu­zon to pre­vent the spread of Covid-19.

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