An agreement has been inked by port authorities in 20 countries in three continents. Initiated by Singapore, this agreement shows the commitment of the participating countries to keep their ports in operation for trade during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a virtual roundtable, many countries, from Abu Dhabi to Shanghai as well as from Los Angeles to Antwerp, acknowledged that the maritime industry plays an important role in maintaining trade flows open during the period.
According to the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) news release on Friday (24 April), the port authorities will join hands to ensure that merchant vessels can conduct cargo operations by berthing at ports as well as keeping the world supply chain running.
New challenges are faced by the industry during this unprecedented period, which makes it more crucial that the joint declaration be made, said Quah Ley Hoon, Chief Executive of MPA.
“Shipping is chartering into many unknowns and new challenges (during the coronavirus outbreak). Port authorities have to take enhanced precautions for their ports and on ships, as well as manage the stress faced by our seafarers and maritime personnel,” she explained.
“We came out of the session gaining more valuable knowledge to ensure that necessities and essential medical supplies continue to be transported seamlessly across the world and into our respective countries,” she added.
Through the joint declaration, signatories will continue to share experiences in the battle against COVID-19 while protecting “unimpeded maritime trade”. They will also make sure that in areas such as the safe handling of cargoes, best practices are utilised in accordance with national circumstances.
The signed agreement is the first by the Port Authorities Roundtable (PAR). The PAR is an invite-only event of leading port authorities currently in its sixth year.