The 42nd session of IMO’s Facilitation Committee took place from 5 to 8 June, focusing on work to the facilitation of international maritime traffic. Data standardisation, single window system, stowaways, and maritime corruption were, inter alia, key items on this year’s agenda.
Standardising data for effective electronic business
The FAL Committee approved a revised and updated structure for its Compendium on Facilitation and Electronic Business, including a new standard IMO reference data set, which will be used as basis for automated and digital systems for exchange of information when ships arrive at and depart from ports.
The information data set supports mandatory reporting formalities for ships, cargo and persons onboard and can also be extended to support commercial businesses in international shipping.
The Compendium is being completely updated in order to enable the implementation of the revised Annex to FAL Convention, which entered into force this year and requires electronic data exchange to be implemented by all FAL Convention Parties, by April 2019.
Work on the revised Compendium has been led by the World Customs Organization (WCO), with the collaboration of IMO, United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) (the global focal point for trade facilitation recommendations and electronic business standards (UN/CEFACT)) and the International Organization for Standardisation (ISO).
The working group also includes members from India, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Ukraine, United States, New Zealand, the IMO Secretariat, the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA), BIMCO and the International Port Community System Association (IPCSA).
The revised and updated Compendium is expected to be completed over the next six months so that it can be approved by FAL 43, in April 2019.
Revised stowaways guidelines adopted
The Committee adopted revised guidelines on the prevention of access by stowaways and the allocation of responsibilities to seek resolution of stowaway cases. The updated guidelines include new text to reflect the provisions in the revised FAL Annex, including the recommendation to apply operational procedures equivalent to those in the ISPS Code, to prevent stowaways accessing a ship.
A new standard requires governments, where appropriate, to incorporate legal grounds to allow prosecution of stowaways, attempted stowaways and any individual or company aiding a stowaway or an attempted stowaway with the intention to facilitate access to the port area, any ship, cargo or freight containers into their national legislation.
Promoting national facilitation committees
FAL Committee agreed to add to its agenda a new output on revision of the guidelines for the establishment, membership and operation of national facilitation committees. The guidelines were last issued in 1989 and are therefore out-of-date.
The Committee also invited Contracting Governments that have national maritime facilitation committees and programmes to share information:
- on terms of reference and composition and methods of work of national maritime facilitation committees;
- contents of national maritime facilitation programmes;
- interaction between national maritime facilitation committees and wider national facilitation committees, maritime security bodies and port-level committees; and
- any national legislation adopted to give legal force to the national maritime facilitation programme.
Review of FAL Explanatory Manual continued
The Committee continued its review of the Explanatory Manual to the Annex to the FAL Convention. The manual is being updated to reflect the latest requirements in the revised FAL Annex.
Single window guidelines further developed
The review of guidelines for setting up a single window system in maritime transport continued during the session. A correspondence group was established to continue its review of the existing guidelines (FAL.5/Circ.36, issued in 2011). The guidelines include an Annex giving examples of best practice and experience of implementing a single window around the world. Member States were invited to supply and update information for this annex.
List of publications relevant to the ship/port interface agreed
The Committee approved a revised list of publications relevant to the ship/port interface (to update FAL.6/Circ.14).
Looking at maritime corruption
The Committee considered information on the negative impacts of maritime corruption, submitted by a number of industry organizations and associations. The Committee agreed that corruption had a significant impact on the image of the maritime industry and ports, and on the facilitation of maritime traffic and security of port operations and invited Member States and international organizations to submit proposals to FAL 43 on ways ahead.