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IMF/World Bank, world ports suspend meetings over Coronavirus

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As the scourge of the Coronavirus sweeps through the global economy, many international institutions are taking active measures to contain the spread by cancelling many of their activities.

To this end, the International Monetary Fund, IMF/World Bank Group has said that the 2020 Spring Meetings of the multilateral institutions will be conducted daily by virtual channels. This is to avoid large gathering in view of the fast-spreading coronavirus.

As a result, they said registration for the meetings for all delegates has been suspended.

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This is just as the World Ports Conference slated for March 17 to 19, 2020, in Antwerp, Belgium, has also been cancelled over the fear of the Coronavirus.

Promoters of the global shipping event, the International Association of Ports and Harbors (IAPH), said the difficult decision to cancel the epoch-making event followed extensive consultation with the organiser IHS Markit and host sponsor, Port of Antwerp.

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In the joint statement, Managing Director, IMF, Mrs. Kristalina Georgieva, and President, World Bank Group, David Malpass, said “Like everyone else around the world, we have been deeply concerned by the evolving situation of the Coronavirus and the human tragedy surrounding it.

“Given growing health concerns related to the virus, the Management of the IMF and World Bank Group and their Executive Boards have agreed to implement a joint plan to adapt the 2020 IMF-World Bank Spring Meetings to a virtual format. Our goal is to serve our membership effectively while ensuring the health and safety of Spring Meetings participants and staff.”

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Accordingly, they said: “Registration for all categories of participants (Delegates, Observers, Guests, Press, and CSOs) is now suspended. All previous confirmations will be cancelled. Official delegates who will participate in the official sessions will receive further instructions from the Secretary and from the office of their Executive Director of the respective institution.

“Be assured that we remain fully committed to maintaining a continuous dialogue with our stakeholders and we will leverage our IT-related and virtual connection capabilities to the fullest to hold our essential policy consultations with the membership.

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“We will also continue to share the IMF and World Bank analysis. As in the past, information regarding the IMFC and DC will be posted on IMF Connect and IMF.org. Our flagship publications – the World Economic Outlook, the Global Financial Stability Report, and the Fiscal Monitor – will be released on time, through virtual press conferences.

“We remain fully committed to maintaining a productive dialogue with our stakeholders and will leverage our IT-related and virtual connection capabilities to the fullest to hold our essential policy consultations with the membership. We will also continue to share the IMF and World Bank analyses. With this adapted format, we are confident that our member countries will be able to effectively engage in pressing global economic issues at these Spring Meetings.”

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On its part, IAPH, in a statement, yesterday, said: “As informed, the event cancellation was prompted by Coronavirus concerns. Given the spread of COVID-19, it has become necessary to cancel in the interests of the health and safety of speakers, sponsors, and attendees.

“In addition, the recent increase in the number of speakers and participants impacted by immediate travel restrictions by their organizations influenced this decision. We shall announce if it is feasible to postpone the event to another date in 2020 as soon as possible.”

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IAPH’s President, Santiago Garcia Milà, said: “We are very sad about having to cancel the event. We took the joint decision out of concern for the well being of all our participants. This is not just about health and safety concerns around the Coronavirus. It’s also about how comfortable all our guests, presenters and colleagues feel about attending the conference at this current point in time,”
 
IAPH’s Managing Director, Patrick Verhoeven, added: “With over 450 delegates registered and speakers and experts already preparing for over 30 industry sessions, our wish is that everyone without exception can enjoy the conference and get the most out of their participation. For this reason, we are working to determine the viability of rescheduling this year.
   
“Our conference partner IHS Markit has advised us already that attendees who have registered for this year’s conference will be able to use their registration for the new date. Those who cannot come will be refunded. Equally, we very much hope the speakers, panellists, presenters and facilitators currently on the agenda will be able to join us at a later date to share with us the work they have already put into making the IAPH World Ports Conference such a popular choice.”

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