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The Maritime Experts Group (MEG) meeting was held virtually on 21August 2020 and was attended by 70 delegates from 19 economy members of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), namely: Australia, Canada, China, Chile, Hong Kong, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Chinese Taipei, Thailand, the United States, and Viet Nam. In addition, the MEG welcomed two representatives from the International Maritime Organization (IMO).

The MEG virtual meeting mainly discussed two agenda themes: (1) updates of on-going projects and introduction of new concept notes endorsed by the MEG; and, (2) issues related to the impacts of COVID-19 on mobility and connectivity including global supply chains. In addition, the election of the MEG Deputy Chair was held.

An analysis on the impacts of COVID-19 as the basis of the session based on maritime related data of some APEC economies were highlighted: (1) the capacity of maritime transportation has been secured to some extent, thus, no severe disruption of maritime service has been observed; (2) cargo volumes seem to be affected from the supply side and demand side of maritime logistics (the degree of impact depends on economies or types of businesses; and, (3) cruise industry seems to be the most affected.

Mr. Luisito Delos Santos of the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA), who participated as the Head of Delegation, presented the crew Change practices in the Philippines and present efforts to transform its seaports as international crew change hubs. Accordingly, the creation of a Philippine Green Lane, where seafarers, regardless of nationality are accorded speedy and safe travel, subject to health protocols, including their safe and swift disembarkation during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mr. Delos Santos further discussed that the designated international gateways are open to foreign seafarers as it adopts a non-discriminatory treatment for the use of its facilities for crew change. The Philippines also expressed its continuous intention to provide support to ensure the stability of the seaborne trade by making its seafarers available for deployment.

Other members of the delegation were representatives from the Office for Transportation Secuirty, Philippine Ports Authority and the Department’s Planning and Project Development Office and International Cooperation Division.