The Secretary-General Kitack Lim highlighted the need for increased digitalization, commenting that

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented challenges. But we must take this opportunity to seize on the opportunities that increased digitalisation in the maritime sector can present - to enhance the resilience of the maritime supply chain, to support sustainable development and to enable recovery.

As the video notes, digitalization is key, as it:

  • reduces errors
  • improves information quality
  • automates processes.

Beginning in 2019, the IMO required all vessel data exchange to be conducted digitally, with the aim to make cross-border trade simpler and the logistics chain more efficient.

In addition, the Organization recommends all shipping stakeholders to make use of the Maritime Single Window, the place where all information, including the eManifest, is reported and made available to various competent authorities in the different participating Member States.

Referring to the Maritime Window, Kitack Lim stated that

Only last week, IMO's Facilitation Committee, meeting in virtual session, approved a revised version of the IMO Compendium on Facilitation and Electronic Business. These are critical steps towards harmonized and standardised digitalization. However, we have to recognize the challenges in implementing full scale digitalization in all countries. We have to leave no one behind, especially during the post-COVID recovery.

Concluding, digitalization of data exchanges is key to facilitate international maritime traffic as it makes it more efficient and resilient in a world of accelerating technological progress and of increasing disruptions.