Leading port authorities promise to keep trade going through Covid-19 crisis

Leading port authorities from several parts of the world have called for collaboration and the sharing of best practices in a declaration that promised to do everything possible to ensure that port operations remain open to trade, despite the Covid-19 pandemic.

The declaration, released in Singapore, was signed by members of the Port Authorities Roundtable (PAR). This included Abu Dhabi Ports, Antwerp, Hamburg and Rotterdam ports, Port Klang, Busan, Shanghai, Yokohama, Seattle, Long Beach and Los Angeles Ports. It was the first virtual declaration for PAR members.

PAR has shared the declaration with the International Maritime Organization and the International Association of Ports and Harbours in the hope that other port authorities will join the declaration.

Although ports worldwide have been declared essential services, but there have been many difficulties in ensuring the safety of port workers and seafarers.

The signatories of the declaration committed to work together to ensure that merchant ships could continue to berth at port terminals to carry out cargo operations and thus maintain the global supply chain.

The ports agreed to adopt best practices according to national circumstances, including precautionary measures for the shipping community, advisories and assistance for shore personnel and ship crew, and safe handling of cargoes during this period.

Quah Ley Hoon, Chief Executive at the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA), said that “as the world battles with the COVID-19 pandemic, it has never been more critical to keep our ports open and goods moving. Shipping is chartering into many unknowns and new challenges. 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. We have come together to make a declaration of our commitment, exchange experiences and share best practices. 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.”