New impetus for digitalization of shipping in the COVID-19 pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of electronic data exchange and the vital need for digitalization and automation, to ensure supply chains continue to function safely and effectively with contactless clearance of ships in and out of ports. Standardization and harmonization of procedures for stay and departure of ships are made mandatory under IMO's Facilitation (FAL) Convention, which comes under the purview of the Facilitation Committee, meeting this week in remote session (28 September-2 October).
One of the main topics will be the finalization of the revised version of the IMO Compendium, a critical instrument to accelerate digitalization in shipping business in the ship/port interface. The IMO Compendium, a technical reference manual for software developers within the relevant public authorities, harmonizes the data elements requested by the various public authorities and standardizes the electronic messages. Since April last year, it has been mandatory under IMO's Facilitation Convention for ships and ports to exchange arrival and departure data electronically.
The Committee is also expected to discuss the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on facilitation and possible amendments to the FAL Convention to minimise the impact of any future pandemic. Also on the agenda is the development of guidance to address maritime corruption.
The Facilitation Committee is the first virtual regular session of an IMO Committee, with remote simultaneous interpretation into IMO's six official languages over four meeting sessions, each scheduled to last three hours, and with a working group running simultaneously in another virtual platform, to finalize the IMO Compendium. A streamlined agenda has been set. The Facilitation Committee 44th session was opened by IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim (speech here) and is being chaired by Ms. Marina Angsell (Sweden).