Technical Co-operation Committee (TC) 65th session, 22-24 June 2015

Maritime single-window project moved forward

The Technical Cooperation Committee, meeting for its 65th session, reviewed progress on the project to develop a prototype maritime single window for the electronic exchange of arrival and departure information, in order to meet anticipated new requirements for the electronic exchange of information under the revised Facilitation Convention.

The Committee requested the IMO Secretariat to provide to the next session a clear project outline, together with budget estimates for initial and annually recurring costs.

Delegations who spoke on the issue recognized the importance of electronic exchange of information with respect to the facilitation of international trade; in connection with efficient and cost effective operations of ships in ports; and as a key factor to reduce administrative burdens for ship masters and maritime administrations. In addition, some delegations acknowledged that the development and implementation of a single window was a complex and costly process and might prove to be challenging for some.

The maritime single window (MSW) will be focused on facilitating the clearance of ships, passengers and crew members, and on connecting the cargo-related information with the single window on cargo clearance already in place, using the information provided in the IMO FAL Forms. 

A revised annex to the Convention on Facilitation of International Maritime Traffic (FAL), 1965, as amended, is expected to be adopted at the 40th session of the Facilitation Committee scheduled for April 2016. An important new standard is set to be adopted, relating to the obligation of public authorities to establish systems for the electronic exchange of information, within a period of three years after the adoption of the amendments. There would be a transitional period of not less than 12 months from the date of the introduction of such systems to make the use of electronic transmissions mandatory, during which period paper and electronic documents would be allowed. 

A further recommended practice will encourage the use of the “single window” concept 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 without duplication.

While it has been identified, during several needs assessment missions for the enhancement of electronic information exchange, that the majority of Member States have some kind of single window in place related to cargo, only a few had any single window for maritime transport. In order to support countries to implement the anticipated FAL Convention requirements, IMO has initiated the MSW project.

The Norwegian Marine Technology Research Institute (MARINTEK) has completed the first two phases:  First Phase: gathering information using a user survey to develop the user requirement; and Second Phase: assessment of the user requirement and the design criteria. The Third phase would be to develop the MSW prototype, to be IMO's property. Once the project is finalized, the outcome would be shared with interested organizations to study possible synergies of the project with other existing single windows in place (third phase). The fourth phase would be to implement the MSW prototype in one target country.

Meanwhile, the Committee thanked Norway for funding the first two phases of the proposed project and Norway and Chile for the offers they had made towards the further progress of the proposed project. Norway pledged free use of the structure and the modules of Norway's Single Window System Safe Sea Net for the development of the prototype and the delegation of Chile committed its support through the provision of experts. The committee also urged Member States and shipping industry stakeholders to make voluntary contributions, either financial or in-kind, for the progression of the proposed MSW project.

Development of training materials to support fair treatment guidelines endorsed
The Committee approved the development of training material on the implementation of the Guidelines on Fair Treatment of Seafarers in the Event of a Maritime Accident (Resolution LEG.3(91)). The Committee welcomed the offer of the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) to provide financial and in-kind support towards the development of the training material.

The Committee noted that such training material could be used when delivering technical assistance activities on safety investigations in marine accidents and marine incidents. The training material could also be made available to the World Maritime University (WMU), the IMO International Maritime Law Institute (IMLI) and International Maritime Safety, Security and Environment Academy (IMSSEA) with a request for them to include it in their syllabi and any training programmes or professional development courses which they offer.

It was noted that the matter of giving greater training and awareness to seafarers as to their rights was an issue to be considered by the Maritime Safety Committee and the Sub-Committee on Human Element, Training and Watchkeeping. Depending on their decisions, the Secretariat would consider the necessary revisions of any existing model courses and/or the development of a free-standing model course.

Technical cooperation programme for 2016-2017 approved
The Committee approved the Integrated Technical Cooperation Programme (ITCP) for the 2016-2017 biennium, including regional and global programmes. 

The global programmes cover eight priority areas:  

  • Technical advisory services to ensure a flexible funding mechanism for immediate response not only to emergency requests, typically in the case of marine pollution and safety incidents, but also to demands to assist governments with the establishment/upgrading of maritime administrations and legislation, and effective implementation of global maritime standards;
  • Support to Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and Least Developed Countries (LDCs) for their special shipping needs to address the emerging and developmental needs of SIDS and LDCs, recognizing that transportation and mobility are central to their sustainable development and can play a vital role in enhancing their economic growth, promoting trade opportunities and improving accessibility;
  • Millennium Development Goals (MDG) 3: Strengthening maritime resource development to support the strengthening of regional linkages for women managers in the maritime and port sectors, as well as contributing to regional capacity building through the specialized training of women managers;
  • Capacity building and Training to reinforce national and regional maritime capacities through human resource development, such as provision of fellowships to IMO global maritime training institutions and other maritime training institutions worldwide, and to respond to specific requests for assistance in the formulation of national maritime transportation policies;
  • Partnerships and emerging issues to develop and/or strengthen TC partnership arrangements and to ensure the global harmonization and coordination of port State control activities;
  • Enhancement of maritime security to assist and support the efforts of governments and industry towards the enhancement of security in the international maritime transport sector;
  • IMO Member State Audit Scheme (IMSAS) to provide targeted assistance to individual Member States based on the audit results and corrective action plans, and to provide assistance in the preparation for the audit, including the ad hoc training for auditors; and
  • Effective implementation and enforcement of energy efficiency measures for ships to provide assistance in improving the ability of Member States to comply with new international regulations and standards to address greenhouse gas emissions from international shipping and the improvement of energy efficiency from ships.

The ITCP aims to foster capacity building in the maritime administrations, thereby augmenting the level of implementation and compliance with IMO's international multilateral and shipping-related treaties and supports IMO Member States in fulfilling their obligations emanating from those instruments. The ITCP also contributes and assists developing countries in achieving the relevant Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the Post-2015 Development Agenda.

2014 technical cooperation activities reviewed
The Committee was informed that 2014 was a successful year for technical cooperation activities, with 213 activities delivered, including 24 advisory and needs assessment missions, and 107 training courses, seminars and workshops held at the national, regional and global levels. These training events covered an extensive range of maritime topics and resulted in the training of approximately 3,402 persons worldwide in 2014. In addition, another 73 fellows completed fellowships in the maritime field, and 1,547 officials attended events aimed at developing and harmonizing regional strategies on maritime technical matters.

Total expenditure on technical cooperation activities in 2014 reached $13.8 million, representing a delivery rate of 76% of the resources programmed for that year. The profile of resource disbursement featured 21 sources of funding. The IMO Technical Cooperation Fund contributed $5.8 million, representing 42% of the overall total funds expended. Non-financial contributions were an important factor in the successful delivery of the ITCP activities.