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UNCTAD Calls for Trade Facilitation to Protect Public Health, Ensure Undisrupted Movement of Goods

  • Trade facilitation can help protect public health while minimizing disruptions to trade as a result of COVID-19.

  • Crowded border posts and longer truck lines lead to delays during a time when efficiency and speed are of the utmost importance to respond to the pandemic.

  • UNCTAD urges agencies to coordinate and cooperate within and among countries to ensure that critical goods reach consumers and hospitals, in coastal and landlocked countries in particular.

Border agencies are implementing unprecedented measures to accelerate the import, export, and transit of goods while dealing with restrictive measures imposed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a report published by the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

The report titled, ‘How Countries Can Leverage Trade Facilitation to Defeat the COVID-19 Pandemic,’ highlights the need to protect public health while minimizing disruptions to trade as a result of the pandemic. Underscoring the need to ensure that relief goods and other essential products can freely move across borders, the paper describes crowded border posts and longer truck lines leading to delays during a time when efficiency and speed are of the utmost importance to respond to the pandemic.

To address such challenges, the report presents trade facilitation solutions in areas related to 1) process optimization, 2) cost reduction, 3) transparency and cooperation enhancement, and 4) full use of technology to ensure cross-border trade continues while reducing face-to-face interaction. The report underscores the importance of government policies and measures, joint efforts from public and private entities, and cooperation with regional and international partners. It concludes that, at the national level, trade facilitation committees could act as a focal point to coordinate initial response to the pandemic and lead to further cooperation at the regional and international levels. The paper also details examples of measures that countries are implementing in these four areas.

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