Worldwide there are approximately 3,000 merchant ports and the work of the Harbour Master can vary widely from country to country and from port to port even within the same country.
A mandatory requirement for national governments to introduce electronic information exchange between ships and ports came into effect from 8 April 2019.
The aim is to make cross-border trade simpler and the logistics chain more efficient, for the more than 10 billion tons of goods which are traded by sea annually across the globe.
The requirement, mandatory under IMOs Convention on Facilitation of International Maritime Traffic (FAL Convention), is part of a package of amendments under the revised Annexe to the FAL Convention, adopted in 2016.
In the words of IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim: ‘The new FAL Convention requirement for all Public Authorities to establish systems for the electronic exchange of information related to maritime transport marks a significant move in the maritime industry and ports towards a digital maritime world, reducing the administrative burden and increasing the efficiency of maritime trade and transport.’
IMO’s Facilitation Convention encourages use of a single window for data, to enable all the information required by public authorities in connection with the arrival, stay and departure of ships, persons and cargo, to be submitted via a single portal, without duplication.
Requirement for electronic data exchange came into effect as IMO’s Facilitation Committee was meeting for its 43rd session from 8-12 April.
Alongside other agenda items, at the time of writing, the Committee was due to continue its ongoing work on harmonization and standardization of electronic messages.
Phase One of the review of the IMO Compendium on Facilitation and Electronic business, including the data elements of the FAL Convention, was expected to be completed and the revised Guidelines for setting up a single window system in maritime transport approved.
The FAL Committee was also due to receive an update on a successful IMO maritime single window project, implemented in Antigua and Barbuda, with Norway’s support. The source code developed for the system established in Antigua and Barbuda was due to be made available to other interested Member States with a presentation on the system during the Facilitation Committee.
The FAL Convention
The main objective of IMO’s Convention on Facilitation of International Maritime Traffic (FAL Convention), adopted in 1965, is to achieve the most efficient maritime transport as possible, looking for smooth transit in ports of ships, cargo and passengers.
This Convention, which has 121 Contracting Governments, contains standards and recommended practices and rules for simplifying formalities, documentary requirements and procedures on ships’ arrival, stay and departure.
Under the FAL Committee, IMO has developed standardised FAL documentation for authorities and Governments to use, and the FAL Convention urges all stakeholders to make use of them.
Documentation: The IMO Standardized Forms (FAL 1-7)
The Facilitation Convention (Standard 2.1) lists documents which public authorities can demand of a ship and recommends the maximum information and number of copies which should be required. IMO has developed Standardized Forms for seven of these documents.
They are the:
Five other documents are required, on security, on wastes from ships, on advance electronic cargo information for customs risk assessment purposes, and two additional ones under the Universal Postal Convention and the International Health Regulations.
Under the requirement for electronic data exchange, all national authorities should now have provision for electronic exchange of this information.
Details for this briefing and the accompanying illustration were kindly provided by the IMO Media service (www.imo.org ).
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It was announced on 18 April from Singapore by Ocean Network Express (ONE) that A P Moller-Maersk, Hapag-Lloyd, MSC and Ocean Network Express had established the Digital Container Shipping Association (DCSA) in The Netherlands.
After gaining regulatory approval from the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) last month (March), four container shipping companies officially established the Digital Container Shipping Association (DCSA) on 12 April 2019 with HQ in Amsterdam and the association is now commencing operations.
Industry veterans form a leadership team with Thomas Bagge appointed as CEO.
In the words of Noriaki Yamaga, Managing Director, Corporate & Innovation, Ocean Network Express (see illustration here of an example of ONE’s tonnage): ‘ONE is constantly seeking best practices and standards to support and drive innovation technology in the shipping and logistics industry to create valuable opportunities for digital transformation. To realize these goals, concrete discussion and solid collaboration works must be done in order to standardize solutions, establish common IT standards and governance for the industry to streamline and digitize shipping process to shape the future of the shipping industry. We truly believe that the establishment of this association will bring values, benefits and opportunities to our customers, as well as logistics companies, leading shipping and logistics industry to new ecosystem of digital supply chain.’
On 8 April in Singapore, the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), the Asian Shipowners’ Association (ASA) and the European Community Shipowners’ Associations (ECSA) signed a joint memorandum of understanding (see illustration).
This new MOU codifies the extensive level of co-operation that already exists between these important international trade associations and provides a framework for their closer co-operation. The three associations collectively represent over 90% of the world merchant fleet. The agreement recognises their respective memberships of national shipowners’ associations and the unique and special relationship which their members enjoy with their national governments.
The MOU confirms the roles of ICS, ASA and ECSA as the principal global and regional associations, representing shipowners and operators – in all shipping sectors and trades – with those global and regional organisations, regulators and other bodies which impact and affect the interests of international shipping.