‘Green lane’ for seafarers PH contribution to uninterrupted global trade in pandemic

Published September 3, 2020, 12:12 PM

by Genalyn Kabiling

The establishment of “green lanes” for seafarers is the Philippines’ contribution to help ensure the uninterrupted global trade during the coronavirus pandemic, President Duterte said Wednesday.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, together with some members of his Cabinet, and Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go listen as INTERPOL Secretary General Prof. Dr. Jürgen Stock shares his remarks during the Aqaba Process video conference at the Malago Clubhouse in Malacañang on September 2, 2020.

The green lane facility, established last July, seeks to facilitate the safe and swift travel of seafarers, including their disembarkation and crew change subject to health protocols.

The President, speaking at the virtual meeting of the Aqaba Process on global pandemic response, recognized the country’s vital role in the shipping industry since Filipino seafarers dominate the workforce.

“More than 80 percent of global trade is carried out by the shipping industry. With almost every other vessel plying the world’s oceans and seas manned by Filipino seafarers, the Philippines plays a key role,” he said.

“My Government worked with the International Maritime Organization on the issuance of a ‘Green Lanes’ circular which provides for safe crew changes during the pandemic. This is our concrete contribution to ensuring that the global trade of raw materials and goods flows uninterrupted,” he said.

The government circular, signed by the Foreign Affairs, Labor, Transportation, Health, and Interior and Local Government departments, sets the guidelines for the speedy and safe conduct of crew change or repatriation while complying with health and safety protocols. It covers seafarers, licensed manning agencies, shipping companies, airlines, and other related entities.

The pandemic has affected the global maritime industry, leaving many Filipino seafarers out of work. Thousands have been repatriated since the global lockdown due to the disease outbreak.

In the same remarks before the international forum led by Jordan, the President has pushed for intensified global economic cooperation to overcome the impact of the pandemic.

He recognized that the pandemic has weakened world economies, shrank resources, and worsened inequities but the cautioned against resorting to “economic independence” to ride out the hardships. Instead, he said there must be free trade of goods and services complemented with appropriate social safety nets.

He noted that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is preparing a comprehensive recovery plan anchored on strengthening economic cooperation and supply chain connectivity.