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Support the seafarers making Black Friday a reality

The four largest shipping trade bodies have written an open letter to Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos challenging him to recognise the crucial role seafarers play in making retail event such as Black Friday possible

Seafarers have transported retail goods needed to satisfy the demand generated by platforms such as Amazon ‘throughout some of the most difficult conditions in living memory’, the shipping trade groups tell Jeff Bezos

DEAR Mr Bezos,

As you know, the strength of Amazon’s (and others’) supply chain is central to the success of red-letter retail days like Black Friday. Today, 90% of global trade relies on shipping, which fundamentally serves essential needs, such as food, energy supply, and other indispensable raw material. If ships do not sail, events on the scale of Black Friday or Cyber Monday would be impossible.

Yet unforgivably, more than 400,000 of our seagoing colleagues and seafarers, who underpin the movement of goods around the world, are currently stranded on board their vessels, because governments will not recognise their crucial role and prioritise them for immigration and travel purposes.

Some of these key workers have been at sea for more than a year, unable to disembark because of Covid-related restrictions. Being cut off from physical contact with their families their mental wellbeing is rapidly deteriorating. Throughout some of the most difficult conditions in living memory, they have continued to transport the goods needed to satisfy the demand generated by platforms including Amazon.

As one of the world’s most prominent entrepreneurs, you have unparalleled influence, which we hope you will use to join us in pushing public recognition of seafarers as key workers, and champion the cause at the highest levels of government, including in the United States with the incoming Joe Biden administration.

You have the power to make a real difference for 400,000 dedicated professionals whose self-sacrifice is keeping the world’s marketplace running. Without these seafarers, global trade as we know it would simply cease to exist.

We would welcome you joining us in making sure that does not happen and look forward to discussing what can be done further.

Yours sincerely,

Sadan Kaptanoglu, president and chairperson of the board of BIMCO and Kaptanoglu Shipping Group of Companies

Esben Poulsson, chairman of the International Chamber of Shipping and executive chairman ENESEL PTE. LTD

Dimitris Fafalios, chairman of Intercargo and chairman of Fafalios Shipping S.A.

Paolo d’Amico, chairman of Intertanko and managing director of d’Amico Societá di Navigazione SpA

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