‘MOVEMENT OF FOOD, MEDICAL SUPPLIES MUST GO SMOOTHLY’
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.
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.