Indonesia, 12 cross-region countries agree to keep supply chains open

Top diplomats from 13 countries of a cross-regional network, including Indonesia, Singapore and Canada, have agreed on key principles of keeping transportation links and supply chains open to cushion the impacts of COVID-19 on global trade and economy.

Facilitated by Canada, the informal network called the International Coordination Group on COVID-19 (ICGC) consists primarily of half of the G20 countries — Brazil, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, South Korea, Turkey and the United Kingdom — with the addition of Morocco, Peru and Singapore. It was recently established to look for a shared commitment to “promote and protect free trade” and other selected measures to tackle COVID-19.

The fresh declaration was made by foreign ministries of ICGC in a Friday evening teleconference, after it was deliberated at a recent senior officials meeting.

Going forward, Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi said, any future cooperation “must be action-oriented” which would bring tangible benefits to the general public worldwide.

The declaration, despite its nature as a non-legally binding political declaration, aims at bolstering international norms and actions in handling the COVID-19 pandemic and to manage its social economic impacts. It identified a number of areas for concrete collaborative actions, outlining commitments to maintain an open flow of trade and investment, facilitate repatriation of stranded travelers, and to look for efforts to restore the post-pandemic global economy.

“We will continue to promote and protect free trade,”  the ministers said in the declaration, as quoted from a press statement on Saturday. “[…] and we agree that emergency measures designed to tackle COVID-19, if deemed necessary, must be targeted, proportionate, transparent and temporary, and that they do not create unnecessary barriers to trade or disruption to global supply chains, and are consistent with WTO [World Trade Organization] rules.”

Singapore’s Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said on Facebook on Saturday that the ICGC ministers had reiterated the importance of maintaining global connectivity, “such as transport and supply chain links, which will help all our economies recover more quickly when the pandemic eventually subsides”.

The WTO had sounded the alarm on Wednesday that global trade could plummet by a third this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, warning the deepest recession “of our lifetimes” could be on the horizon.

North America and Asia would be hardest-hit and could see their exports plunge by 40 and 36 percent respectively, while Europe and South America could see declines of more than 30 percent, the WTO said. Keeping markets open to international trade and investment would help economies recover more quickly, we will see a much faster recovery than if each country goes it alone.

Following the declaration, the ICGC would now strongly advocate for other countries to take similar steps, with South Korea leading a conversation on best practices for emerging from the COVID-19 crisis.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is a global challenge. Maintaining strong coordination with our international partners is critical to mitigate the repercussions of the ongoing challenges we face,” Canada’s Foreign Minister François-Philippe Champagne said in a statement. “Keeping people, goods and services moving is key in both addressing these issues and ensuring the transition to a strong recovery.”

Source: Article by Dian Septiari, The Jakarta Post, 19 April 2020

Port of Genoa Control Tower Collapses Following Ship Collision

Prized location is not always practical. An Italian-flagged cargo ship crashed into a control tower at the Italian port of Genoa late Tuesday night, causing it to collapse. The 30,217 DWT Jolly Nero, a containership/ro-ro owned by Genoa-based Ignazio Messina & Co., slammed into the control tower at about 11 p.m. local time. Part of the 50-metre tower is said to have fallen into the water when it was hit by the Jolly Nero as the vessel was leaving the port for Sicily.

BBC reports that 3 people have been killed and others are injured. The report says that 10 people were in the tower at the time of the accident. According to Reuters, harbour officials confirmed on local television that 3 people were killed and 6 others injured. As many as 10 more may be missing, the report said. Two of the dead are believed to be harbour officials and the third was a pilot, local Primocanale quoted officials as saying. The Jolly Nero was under the control of two pilots and was leaving the port when the accident occurred. All that was left of the control tower was the exterior staircase, tilted on its side. The tower itself, which was located on the very edge of  the quay, was either in the water or in a heap of wreckage on the dock. The pictures below bear testimony of the tragedy. Source: gCaptain.com. Picture credits: Reuters and various.