Coronavirus: United Nations initiative will help countries tackle trade and transport challenges

UNCTAD joins hands with five regional commissions to boost trade in the wake of Covid-19 pandemic

(FILES) In this file photo taken on September 23, 2019 the United Nations flag is seen is seen during the Climate Action Summit 2019 at the United Nations General Assembly Hall in New York City. The United States and China remained at loggerheads April 30, 2020 over a UN Security Council draft resolution calling for a 90-day humanitarian pause in conflicts worldwide in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. / AFP / Ludovic MARIN

The United Nations is working to help developing countries tackle trade and transport challenges in the wake of the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

“The project launched this month will implement UN solutions, standards, guidelines, metrics, tools and methodologies to help developing countries build transport, trade and logistics resilience in the wake of Covid-19,” a statement by the UN’s trade and development body, UNCTAD said.

As part of the initiative, UNCTAD teamed up with five UN regional commissions representing Africa, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, Asia and the Pacific, and Western Asia to boost trade among different countries.

The funding for the programme will be managed by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, according to UNCTAD.

“The project puts a premium on global reach and regional presence, international cooperation, as well as exchange of knowledge and good practices from all over the world,” UNCTAD said.

“It seeks to equip governments in developing and least developed countries to adapt to new post-Covid-19 conditions by tapping into UN expertise, standards, tools and guidance, while considering their specific and local conditions.”

The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted daily life, paralysed air travel, wiped out at least $17 trillion (Dh62.4tn) from stock markets worldwide and forced governments to introduce economic stimulus packages worth more than $8tn as countries went into lockdown.

The initiative comprises three clusters designed to match existing and emerging standards and best practices in transport and trade facilitation, according to UNCTAD.

The first cluster focuses on contactless solutions and good practices to reduce physical contact among people in cross-border supply chains by facilitating the flow of goods without spreading the virus.

The second cluster is geared towards maximising seamless connectivity, according to the UN body. It focuses on eliminating obstacles to cross-border trade and transport operations arising from the crisis.

“The third cluster focuses on collaborative solutions on transport, trade and logistics operations by strengthening regional and sectoral cooperation to facilitate joint actions and solutions in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic,” it said.

Global trade is expected to decline 27 per cent in the second quarter of 2020, compared to the previous three months, as global production falls due to the coronavirus pandemic, a report by the UN said earlier this month.

World merchandise trade value is also forecast to fall about 27 per cent in the second quarter as global production and manufacturing output are set to decline 9 per cent year-on-year.