Facilitation Committee, 40th session, 4-8 April (opening address)

FAL 40
Opening address by Kitack Lim, Secretary-General, International Maritime Organization

Ladies and gentlemen,

Good morning, distinguished delegates and observers. I am pleased to welcome you all to London and the fortieth session of the Facilitation Committee. 

Before I go any further in my opening remarks, I would like to express my sympathies with the victims of the terrorist attacks in Brussels on 22 March.


Distinguished delegates,

As you are all aware, you are expected to have important discussions this week, i.e. adopting of a new annex of the FAL Convention, following the approval of the amendment at the previous session. The comprehensive revision of the Convention with a view to ensuring that it adequately addresses the present and emerging needs of the shipping industry as well as the modernization of its provisions will thereby be completed. I am confident that the new amendments will be a significant step forward highlighting the importance of facilitation, and I strongly encourage efficient implementation of the new instrument.

Also relevant is the discussion on the maritime single window.

This is an ambitious, long-term project for the Organization, and I encourage you to have a thorough discussion to give clear guidance to the Secretariat on the way forward. As you may be aware, this project may have a positive impact on compliance with the new requirements expected to be adopted by FAL 40. Of course, I would like to express my deep appreciation to the donors (Chile, Norway, Republic of Korea and the European Commission) for providing their expertise and funding, and I would like to encourage other Member States and international organizations to take inspiration from this positive example and offer similar assistance.

I look forward to the Committee’s careful consideration on this important matter.
Other items on your agenda are also important and all of them call for careful consideration.  I would highlight, in particular:
• review of the Guidelines for the use of electronic certificates;
• amendments to resolution A.1057(27), Procedures for port State control, 2011;
• training of mooring personnel;
• guidelines on the facilitation aspects of protecting the maritime transport network from cyber threats; and
• the IMO Compendium on facilitation and electronic business.


Ladies and gentleman,

As this is the first session of FAL during my tenure as Secretary-General, I would like to emphasize the importance of the facilitation of international maritime transport. Facilitation is essential to achieve efficiency within shipping and thereby reap the benefits of its positive impact on the world economy. 

Article 1 of the IMO Convention states that one of the purposes of the Organization is to encourage and facilitate the general adoption of the highest practicable standards in matters concerning the efficiency of navigation. A similar principle is recognized in article 1 of the FAL Convention, referring to the adoption of all appropriate measures to facilitate and expedite international maritime traffic and to prevent unnecessary delays to ships and persons and property on board.

Since IMO was established in 1959, the volume of world trade has increased by over 300 times.  The world population has topped 7 billion and continues to rise. Maritime activity already provides an important source of invisible income to many developing countries.

The truth is, shipping affects us all. No matter where you may be in the world, if you look around you, you are almost certain to see something that either has been or will be transported by sea, whether in the form of raw materials, components or the finished product.

And this is why the theme that has been chosen for World Maritime Day 2016 is "Shipping: indispensable to the world".

As I am sure some of you know, United Nations Secretary-General
Ban Ki-moon visited IMO Headquarters in February. When he addressed delegates and IMO staff, he said – among other things:

"Every country relies, to some degree, on selling what it produces and acquiring what it lacks. Shipping connects buyers and sellers across the world. It transports the commodities, fuel, food, goods and products on which we all depend. Shipping is indispensable."

This is a message that needs, and deserves, a wider audience. Almost everyone in the world today relies on shipping to some extent – but very few are aware of it. But now that the UN Secretary-General has highlighted it, perhaps it will gain more traction. We will certainly be doing our best to amplify this message during the course of the year and I hope you, too, will all join in this effort.


Shipping is the only viable delivery mechanism that can support global trade and the global economy. But in order for shipping to function you also need ports – and consider, more specifically, how ships and ports interface with each other; about how the vital cargoes that ships carry around the world are packaged and handled, loaded and offloaded and moved on to their next destination.

I am convinced that this Committee is the best forum for exchanging views and ideas on how to implement more efficient measures, to discuss these very important issues, trying continuously to improve the facilitation of maritime transport and of shipping, and building on best practices for improving shipping.

Therefore, in this Committee, maybe more so than in other committees, it is important to keep the bigger picture in mind.

I believe that, in order to rise to these challenges, this Committee needs to look at the way it does business and I would like to share with you three areas for consideration.

First, I firmly believe that we need to focus more on the relationship between ships and ports.  IMO has been working intensively, over many years, on technical matters of all kinds affecting shipping engaged in international trade. But how much emphasis have we placed on the port as a fundamental service provider to ships? 

IMO is the single, global body for maritime policy and regulation. Over the past half-century, it has had a huge beneficial impact on shipping and this has been felt by all those who rely on the industry. Looking ahead, I would like to see the positive benefits of IMO's work spread further throughout the supply chain, joined-up thinking and communication will be essential if this is to happen. I would therefore suggest the Committee should revisit the concept of the ship/port interface and consider reintroducing it back on the agenda for future sessions of this committee.

My second suggestion is to make the Facilitation Committee even more inclusive and to encourage active participation from all stakeholders within Government and industry. 

Third, I would urge the Committee to consider if the time is now right for the Committee to review the decision taken by FAL 37, nearly five years ago to meet every 18 months, and increase the frequency with which it meets.  This decision would allow the Committee to cooperate more efficiently with the other committees and therefore it would have a positive impact on the work of the Organization. Recent cases such as the decision of the Committee on the use of electronic certificates, that has an impact on the work of MSC and MEPC, would achieve a broader and more effective outcome if the Committee would be able to interact more frequently with the other committees. I believe that this will better enable the Committee to develop and achieve momentum in its important work. In this context, I am pleased to note that this biennium, FAL is scheduled to meet twice.


It remains for me to wish you every success in your deliberations.  I am confident that, with everybody’s full cooperation, the Committee will achieve fruitful and balanced outcomes. You will shortly be electing your Chairman for this year, and the task and responsibility for the new Chairman is indeed a significant one. But the Chairman can expect the full cooperation of the Secretariat, and I thank you in advance for your cooperation and support to the new Chairman. For our part, we, as the Secretariat, will support the work at this session to the best of our abilities.

Finally, I wish to invite you all at the customary drinks reception in the Delegates’ Lounge after close of business this evening.

Thank you.