The role of maritime trade in the post-COVID recovery

Shipping has a vital role to play in post pandemic recovery for the EU but must not be ignored in reforms to the bloc’s trade policy, said speakers at the latest Leadership Insights Live.

Protectionist measures are threatening to undermine boosts to global trade that could aid in economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. The Chairman of the European Parliament’s Committee on International Trade, Bernd Lange, said restrictions on trade were becoming more common globally, and export restrictions have risen during the pandemic.

Ruosi Zhang, Counsellor, Trade in Services and Investment Division, WTO, stated that “the EU still has a lot to gain from the further liberalisation in maritime transport”.

Beyond Europe, Guy Platten, International Chamber of Shipping’s Secretary General, said that all countries stand to gain from a reduction of maritime protectionism, regardless of economic development. He added that it is crucial to give equal focus to removing tariff and non-tariff restrictions and that a combination of domestic reforms and multilateral negotiations is vital.

Speakers also acknowledged how global trade has been impacted by a strong rebound and growth in demands for consumer goods throughout the pandemic, as well as government COVID restrictions, putting great pressure on the global supply chain.

Lange said that in some cases there is an average delay of around seven days in maritime transport “which is not acceptable for a lot of just in time production processes”. He stressed that WTO has a key role to play in ensuring nations work together to ensure supply chain resilience going forward.

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