The International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the World Customs Organization (WCO) have requested ports and customs to maintain the supply of essential goods amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

The IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim and WCO Secretary General Dr Kunio Mikuriya issued a joint statement to ask customs administrations and port state authorities to maintain a proactive approach to ensure that the supply of goods is not disturbed.

The statement added that many ports are closed and have denied entry to ships to stop the spread of Covid-19.

Such restrictions can lead to negative social and economic effects as it may hinder the supply of necessary goods.

The joint statement reported: “It is critical that customs administrations and port state authorities continue to facilitate the cross-border movement of vital medical supplies and equipment, critical agricultural products and other goods to help minimise the overall impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on economies and societies.”

The statement added that it is important that there should be communication, coordination and cooperation between ships, port facilities and customs administrations.

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The joint statement follows the increased demand for the movement of supplies, medicines and medical equipment across different borders.

Last month, the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) issued new Covid-19 guidance for the shipping industry to prevent the spread of the virus.

The document offers advice on managing port entry restrictions and provides practical protective measures against Covid-19 for seafarers.

Earlier this month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the US issued a new directive to extend the ‘no sail order’ for all cruise ships to prevent the spread of Covid-19.