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Facilitation Committee (FAL), 38th session: 8 to 12 April 2013

April 12, 2013

Guidelines in the event of large-scale trade disruption agreed
Guidelines setting out how to deal with large-scale disruption to the maritime supply chain following an emergency situation were agreed by the Facilitation Committee, when it met for its 38th session.
 
The Committee approved a FAL circular on Guidelines on measures towards enhancing maritime trade recovery related to the global supply chain system and maritime conveyances, which are intended to be a practical tool, to be used by IMO Member States and industry for the purpose of considering relevant issues to increase the resilience of the global supply chain and minimize the impact of disruptions, in the event of large-scale emergencies.
 
The guidelines provide information and best practice guidance to Governments, owners and operators of vessels and facilities that fall under the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), and other members of the maritime supply chain with responsibility for ensuring and/or facilitating maritime trade recovery following a disruptive incident.
 
The Guidelines are comprised of three parts. The first part contains a listing of information needs critical to improving supply chain resilience and facilitating trade recovery following a significant disruption to the maritime supply chain. The second contains information relating to the development of communication mechanisms between parties. The third contains information pertinent to the establishment of maritime industry initiated support groups.
 
The Guidelines take into account, and are informed by, work done by the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Trade Recovery Programme, the World Customs Organization (WCO), and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) in developing guidelines for customs administrations and organizations to improve and facilitate trade recovery. Relevant guidance from the WCO Trade Recovery Guidelines, the APEC Trade Recovery Programme, and ISO 28002:2011 has been consolidated and integrated into the Guidelines.
 
Review of FAL Convention - road map agreed to adopt revisions in 2014
The Committee made substantive progress in reviewing the Convention on Facilitation of International Maritime Traffic, 1965, as amended (FAL Convention), and agreed to recommend to the IMO Assembly and Council that the amendments to revise the Convention should be adopted by a Committee session in 2014, following further work by an intersessional working group.
The aim of the review is to ensure that the FAL Convention continues to adequately address the present and emerging needs of the shipping industry.  The FAL Convention includes "Standards" and "Recommended Practices" on formalities, documentary requirements and procedures which should be applied on arrival, stay and departure to the ship itself, and to its crew, passengers, baggage and cargo.
 
Proposed amendments to the Convention envisage a gradual transition from paper-based to electronic means of providing information, in such a way as to allow a period of time whereby both paper and electronic systems could coexist and both systems would be accepted by Contracting Governments. The Committee agreed that before a final decision on the date of the mandatory implementation of electronic exchange of information could be taken, a thorough analysis of the costs and benefits of setting up the system was required.
 
Other amendments would ensure harmonization of the Convention with the World Customs Organization (WCO) Safe Framework of Standards and the International Ship and Port Facilities (ISPS) Code, and to emphasise the importance of shore leave to be granted to seafarers without any discrimination based on nationality, religious belief, race or colour.
 
A working group during the session made progress on the review and a correspondence group was established to further develop the draft amendments, including a review of trade recovery and contingency practices. The correspondence group has also been tasked with providing advice on the cost/benefits analysis of setting up the system for electronic exchange of information and when its establishment should become mandatory.
 
Revised IMO Compendium on Facilitation and Electronic Business approved
The Committee approved the revised IMO Compendium on Facilitation and Electronic Business, which updates the compendium.
 
The revisions include the addition of a footnote to include reference to XML format messages that are in accordance with the ISO 28005 standard for Security management systems for the supply chain – Electronic port clearance (EPC). 
 
Updated list of certificate and documents to be carried on board ships approved
The Committee approved the List of certificate and documents required to be carried on board ships, for issuing as a circular to update previous versions, for concurrent approval by the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) and Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC).  
 
Draft Guidelines for Use of Printed Versions of Electronic Certificates developed
The Committee developed draft Guidelines for Use of Printed Versions of Electronic Certificates, and agreed to refer them to the MSC and MEPC for review.
 
The aim is to promote the acceptance of printed versions of electronic certificates to authorities, to facilitate the early and efficient checking of ships’ documentation by control authorities, thus improving the flow of maritime traffic through ports, and therefore improving the efficiency of maritime transport.
 
The draft Guidelines establish a standard and recognized set of features for using electronic versions of certificates, and specify the minimum features to be included, such as a unique tracking number and instructions for validating the information in the certificate.
 
The intention is to help alleviate problems inherent in reliance on paper, namely that Governments using electronic certificates have experienced incidents of port State control authorities denying the validity of these certificates, resulting in a burden to the master and crew, shipowner or operator, Port State Control authorities, flag Administrations and other stakeholders. In addition, ships have experienced incidents of port State control actions because traditional paper certificates have been issued but have not arrived on the ship, or traditional paper certificates have been damaged or lost.
 
The Committee re-established the Correspondence Group on Electronic Access to Certificates and Documents to identify the stakeholders for accommodating required periodic endorsements of printed versions of electronic certificates and documents and recommend efficient methods for handling these endorsements; and continue looking into matters related to the online access to certificates and documents, including features of websites used to access certificates.
 
Electronic means for notifications under FAL Convention encouraged
The Committee approved the establishment of a new module in the Global Integrated shipping Information system (GISIS), with respect to reports on notifications to IMO required under the FAL Convention, so that they can be submitted electronically, while also retaining the right to submit such information by hard copy. This reflects the intention of the Organization to reduce administrative burdens. 
 
Concern expressed over under-reporting of stowaways incidents
The Committee noted with concern that statistics published by IMO relating to stowaway incidents, based on reports submitted by just a few Member States, clearly under-reported the scale of the problem of stowaways, while the scale of the problem has not decreased. According to the IMO figures from 1 January 2011 to 1 January 2012, 73 incidents involving 193 stowaways were reported to the Organization. However, the number of stowaway cases collated by the P&I Clubs from 20 February 2011 to 20 February 2012 totalled 774 incidents involving 1,640 stowaways.
 
The Committee agreed to encourage Member States (particularly flag States) and non-governmental organizations to provide information on stowaway cases to IMO, making use of the relevant GISIS module.
 
The Committee noted that the annual cost of the stowaway problem to the P&I Clubs is approximately US$15.3 million. The Committee agreed that further technical cooperation actions were needed to reduce the number of stowaways through adequate security measures within the ports of these countries.
 
Meanwhile, the Committee noted that IMO, though its technical cooperation programme, was working to promote maritime capacity-building for sustainable development and to enhance maritime security in west and central Africa. A regional meeting focusing on the prevention of stowaways in Africa will be convened by IMO in the second half of 2013, in one country of the south or west African region.
 
Draft Assembly resolution on notification and circulation through GISIS approved
The Committee approved a draft Assembly resolution on notification and circulation through the GISIS, which promotes the use of GISIS to enhance implementation of mandatory IMO instruments, particularly in respect of the rate of notifications, making an effective use of information and communication technology, and potentially reducing the administrative burden on Governments. GISIS provides a means whereby Contracting Governments or Parties can fulfill mandatory reporting requirements; and facilitates the circulation of the related notifications by the Organization.
 
Carriage of IMDG Code class 7 radioactive material mechanism made permanent
The Committee agreed to make permanent the operation of the ad hoc mechanism within the Secretariat to co-ordinate efforts to resolve speedily difficulties in the carriage of IMDG Code class 7 radioactive materials, whereby the Secretariat monitors, facilitates and co-ordinate the resolution of such difficulties.
 
The Secretariat was instructed to continue to co-operate with relevant agencies and organizations (including the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the International Labour organization (ILO), the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and other United Nations bodies) on issues surrounding the delays and denials of shipments of IMDG Code classified cargoes and in particular of IMDG Code class 7 radioactive materials, including those in packaged form used in medical or public health applications and to report to FAL 39.
 
Under the mechanism, the IMO Secretariat receives notification of any difficulties (such as when carriage has been denied or been delayed); investigates the incident; provides facilitation/mediation action with relevant parties involved; and records each incident in a database according to success/no success, to ensure they are brought to closure.
 
An IMO/IAEA/ICAO Denials Database has been established with 236 reports filed to date, comprising 182 relating to transport by sea, 51 by air and three by land.
 
The Committee noted that almost 630 stakeholders had used the computer-based training package on class 7 e-learning, www.class7elearning.com, which is available free of cost to all non-commercial users.
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