BANGKOK: The United Nations (UN) will help developing countries to tackle trade and transport challenges amid Covid-19 pandemic.

In a statement, the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) said the initiative will keep transport networks and borders operational and facilitate the flow of goods and services, while containing the spread of Covid-19.

It said the initiative brings together UN Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad) and the five UN regional economic commissions for Africa (ECA), Europe (ECE), Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), and Western Asia (ESCWA), with funding managed by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs.

“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.

“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,” it said.

The project launched this month will implement UN solutions, standards, guidelines, metrics, tools and methodologies to help developing countries in the wake of Covid-19, it added.

The statement said the initiative comprises three clusters designed to match existing and emerging standards and best practices in transport and trade facilitation with new concerns and demands arising from Covid-19 on cross-border freight transport operations and trade transactions.

The first cluster will focus on contactless solutions and good practices by  reducing physical contact among people in cross-border supply chains by facilitating the flow of goods without spreading the virus, and the second cluster is geared towards maximising seamless connectivity, through focusing on eliminating obstacles to cross-border trade and transport operations arising from the Covid-19 crisis.

It said 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 will give special attention to international transit issues, which are multilateral, and sectoral cooperation for ports as nodes of the global maritime shipping network, rooted in regional and national contexts,” it said.

The three clusters build on the UN’s proven conventions, standards, tools and instruments, such as Unctad’s Automated System for Customs Data (ASYCUDA), the eTIR International System (TIR Convention) carnet and trade data exchange standards of the UN Centre for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business (UN/CEFACT), as well as the Framework Agreement on Facilitation of Cross-border Paperless Trade.

“The clusters will also tap into regional intergovernmental cooperation platforms, analytical work and capacity-building programmes of the five UN regional economic commissions.

“These efforts are expected to promote prosperity, help national economies recover better from Covid-19 and accelerate progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals,” it said. – Bernama