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Eight UN organizations stress critical role of international transport and integrated supply chains for COVID-19 recovery and the SDGs

Published: 17 September 2020

The social and economic disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting our efforts to improve livelihoods and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The early responses to restraining the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic negatively impacted all transport operations, leading to severe disruptions of supply chains and trade flows worldwide. UNECE estimates that inland transport volumes may fall by up to 40 per cent in the pan-European region in 2020. 

In a statement released today, the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and Caribbean (UNECLAC), the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (UNESCWA) stress that international transport and integrated supply chains are critical in recovering from COVID-19 achieving the SDGs.

The signatories call on all Governments to maximize the contribution of international trade and supply chains to a sustainable socio-economic recovery through greater use of international legal instruments and standards, as well as strengthened regional and sectoral cooperation.

United Nations instruments – such as the UNECE-administered TIR Convention and its eTIR International System, and the CMR Convention – facilitate the use of a safe and efficient intermodal transport system. These instruments allow for moving cargo across borders without requiring physical checks and for reducing contact between people.

Single Windows enable traders to communicate electronically with all agencies involved. International standards for data exchange, such as those developed by UN/CEFACT also help reduce physical contact and enhance streamlined processes.

The signatories support further 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 encourage all governments to take a risk-based approach to restoring air, inland and maritime connectivity with minimal restrictions, while preventing the spread of COVID-19, protecting the health and safety of drivers, crew and border agency personnel, as well as strengthening public confidence in trade and transport means.  

They call upon Governments to embark on the process to review international and regional trade agreements, as deemed necessary, and ensure they contain provisions to facilitate trade and transport in times of crisis and pandemics.

The signatories call upon member States to take appropriate action in facilitating and dematerializing trade and transport value chains.

They also reiterated support to member States to ensure a sustainable socio-economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.


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