On 14 May 2020, the FIATA Extended Board (EB) met for the first time this year following the cancellation of the FIATA HQ Meeting in Zürich at the end of March. The distinguished members of the EB were happy to meet again in a virtual setup on Zoom during these unprecedented times and discuss the impacts of COVID-19 on the forthcoming 2020 FIATA World Congress in Busan, South Korea. The EB also took stock of the progress of the move to Geneva and the newly appointed staff to operate at FIATA’s new office by Lake Geneva. This allowed the EB to have a look at the new structure of the Secretariat, which is organised into five Business Units: Membership Management (Administration), International Trade and Law, Technological Projects, Professional Development and Sustainability, and Marketing and Communication. A few days later, the Presidency held its 6th meeting of the year to discuss the FIATA Digital Strategy, a topic of importance for the future of the industry. More information will follow in due course.
On 19 May 2020, FIATA participated on the World Trade Organization (WTO) Trade Dialogues Virtual Roundtable on the impacts of COVID-19. With over 70 business representatives around the world in attendance, the meeting was an opportunity to discuss the coordinated actions at the national and international levels to be taken on trade policy measures to improve crisis responses. The inputs provided reinforced the actions that have been taken by FIATA in response to COVID-19. Noting the imbalances and disruptions in the supply chain, the central themes included the importance of implementing the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement, the role of digitalisation, and the position of freight forwarding as an essential service. With the impending departure of WTO Director General, Roberto Azevêdo, it was also an occasion to recognise the important work he has done in enhancing the WTO’s relationship with the business community, particularly through the ICC and B20.
On 21 May 2020, FIATA attended the first online UNESCAP Commission Session (76th Session of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific). Highlights of the Session were the responses to the COVID-19 pandemic and sustainable oceans. Deliberations focused on ‘Promoting economic, social and environmental cooperation on oceans for sustainable development’. To this end, the countries adopted a resolution calling countries to strengthen regional cooperation and redouble efforts to reduce marine pollution, improve ocean data and statistics, and support sustainable maritime connectivity.
FIATA also extended its support to seafarers maintaining the global supply chain during COVID-19, calling for collaboration between the freight forwarding and shipping industries. FIATA supports the crew changes protocols from the International Maritime Organization while urging its implementation, as 150,000 seafarers are in urgent need of crew change due to the pandemic. FIATA has reached out to the International Seafarers’ Welfare and Assistance Network (ISWAN) to support their work – particularly their 24-hour helpline for seafarers offering multilingual counselling. Read the full press release here.
On 19 May 2020, the FIATA Presidency approved the new digital strategy for the coming years. The digital strategy involves several projects to promote a freight-forwarders trusted network, share and distribute standards such as the FBL in a digital world and finally foster interoperability and data analysis. The Advisory Body of Information Technology (ABIT) and the Director General will launch two initial projects in June 2020 where the help of FIATA members will be key for their realization: the trusted digital members registry and the digital document library. From the beginning of June, the newly appointed Digital Project Manager, Lucelia Tinembart, will coordinate the work with the support of ABIT and the FIATA Secretariat. Further information will be provided in due course.
Following the emergency measures put in place by states around the world to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, FIATA has decided to cancel all its international meetings until the end of June 2020. Regular meetings of the FIATA Presidency and the Extended Board continue to take place online every month.