International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and the World Customs Organization (WCO) urged that trade by sea must continue to flow to maintain the continued provision of essential goods, including vital medical supplies, during the COVID-19 pandemic. Kitack Lim, Secretary-General, IMO and Kunio Mikuriya, Secretary General, WCO strongly urged customs administrations and port state authorities, together with all other concerned agencies, to establish a coordinated and proactive approach to maintaining the integrity of the global supply chain so that the flow of vital goods by sea is not unnecessarily disrupted. The joint statement comes as the demand for and the movement of relief goods (such as supplies, medicines and medical equipment) across borders is increasing dramatically.
It notes that ports are being closed and ships denied entry, as travel is curtailed and borders closed to slow the spread of the disease and mitigate its impacts. Such restrictions, it says, may interrupt much-needed aid and technical support, and have negative social and economic effects on the countries concerned.