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IMO ECHOES INDUSTRY SUPPLY CHAIN CONCERNS

Wednesday, April 1, 2020 

IMO has published a Circular Letter, containing a series of recommendations for governments and relevant national authorities, requesting governments to keep shipping and supply chains open and grant special travel exemptions to seafarers in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Circular Letter is i response to proposals from a cross-section of industry associations representing the maritime transportation sector. It specifically calls on governments to designate professional seafarers and marine personnel, regardless of their nationality, as 'key workers' providing an essential service.

Referring to the issue of crew changes, it says professional seafarers and marine personnel should be granted any necessary and appropriate exemptions from national travel or movement restrictions to allow them to join or leave ships, and that governments should permit professional seafarers and marine personnel to disembark ships in port and transit through their territory (i.e. to an airport) to allow crews to be changed and seafarers to be repatriated.

The circular letter reiterates earlier calls made by IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim, who said it was "crucially important that the flow of commerce by sea should not be unnecessarily disrupted" and confirms that, in this time of global crisis, it is more important than ever to keep supply chains open and maritime trade, transport and services moving.

In the Letter, the Secretary-General referred to the outcome of the G20 Leaders' Summit on COVID-19 on 26 March 2020, in which the G20 leaders committed to continue working together to facilitate international trade and coordinate responses in ways that avoid unnecessary interference with international traffic and trade. The leaders pledged to "work to ensure the flow of vital medical supplies, critical agricultural products, and other goods and services across borders, and work to resolve disruptions to the global supply chains, to support the health and well-being of all people."

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