Facilitation Committee, 41st session, 4-7 April 2017 (opening address)

FAL 41
Opening address by the Director of the Maritime Safety Division on behalf of the Secretary-General

Good morning, Excellencies, distinguished delegates and observers. On behalf of the Secretary-General, Mr. Kitack Lim, I am pleased to welcome you all to the forty-first session of the Facilitation Committee. I particularly welcome those delegates who may be attending this Committee for the first time.

I regret to inform the Committee of the loss of the Marshall Islands flagged, Republic of Korea owned Very Large Ore Carrier Stellar Daisy in the South Atlantic off Uruguay.  Two crew members have been rescued by the Uruguayan Navy and we hope that more will be saved.  To this end, I would like to commend all the Search and Rescue authorities involved for their unstinted efforts. Our thoughts are with the families of the 8 Korean and 14 Filipino seafarers still unaccounted for. I would request the delegations of Republic of Korea and the Philippines to convey the Organization’s its Secretariat’s, the wider IMO Community and my sincere condolences to the families affected by this casualty.

Furthermore, I would also like to direct your attention to the terrorist attacks committed in St. Petersburg yesterday and I convey the Organization’s, its Secretariat’s, the wider IMO Community and my own condolences to the delegation of the Russian Federation and the bereaved families, friends and colleagues of the innocent victims.

Distinguished delegates,

At the outset, I would like to highlight that, within its mandate, the Organization provides the machinery for cooperation among Governments in the field of international shipping regulations relating to technical matters. To this end, I encourage you to strengthen this cooperation and join together in order to promote the availability of shipping services to the benefit of the whole world’s trade.

Within this framework, this year's World Maritime Day theme, which is "Connecting Ships, Ports and People", should contribute to building on the long standing effort of Member States towards the achievement of those objectives.

It has always been my firm belief that the maritime sector, which includes shipping, ports and the people who operate them, can and should play a significant role in helping Member States to create the conditions necessary for increased employment, prosperity and stability ashore through the promotion of trade by sea; enhancing the port and maritime sector as wealth creators both on land and, through the development of a sustainable blue economy, at sea.

In this context, the most effective tools used by all stakeholders to make those policies a reality are the international instruments developed and adopted by IMO for international shipping. These instruments establish the “rules of the game” for using the oceans as shared resources and, in turn, diminish the negative impact of humankind on such resources as well as encouraging closer common and collective responsibilities in caring for them.

It is also relevant to emphasize that this year’s theme is directly linked to the IMO’s ocean governance, which is underpinned by our policies focused on improving the safety of life at sea, ensuring the protection of the marine environment and contributing to sustainable development, as well as their interaction with other relevant stakeholders.


In this regard, I would also like to remind you of the agreement reached by the Council in its session in December 2016 on the new strategic plan for the Organization. While the overall plan will have only seven strategic directions, in order to ensure that we can focus our efforts and monitor our performance in these seven areas during the period 2018-2023, the Council also reaffirmed that IMO will uphold its leadership role as the global regulator of shipping, promote greater recognition of the maritime sector's importance and enable the advancement of shipping, whilst addressing the challenges of continued developments in technology and world trade.


Ladies and gentlemen,

I would like to recall now the decision of FAL 40 to reverse the decision adopted by FAL 37 to meet every 18 months, and to meet in regular sessions once a year, in accordance with Article 50 of the IMO Convention and Rule 2(a) of the Rules of Procedure. This decision was adopted in compliance with the IMO Convention, to develop and achieve momentum of the work of the Committee. The Committee further agreed to reduce the meeting days of the Committee to four days, although the duration of the sessions can be reviewed periodically taking into account the workload of the agenda.

This is the first session with four days of discussions in plenary. Although this new schedule can put some pressure on the business of the Committee, especially in the work of the working groups, I am confident that with the cooperation of all delegates and the support of the Secretariat, you will be able to achieve good results.


Distinguished delegates,

Efficient shipping and seamless transport is an essential element for the world’s economic growth and to guarantee its sustainability, and the effective implementation of the FAL Convention is of the highest importance. We should be aware of, and recognize, the potential contribution of the Organization and the maritime sector to the world economy, through the effective development and implementation of international measures to achieve efficient shipping.

As stated, the theme for World Maritime Day 2017 "Connecting ships, ports and people", gives an opportunity to highlight the value of integration in the maritime and logistics sectors – both from a policy and a practical perspective. IMO's role as the global regulator of the shipping industry can enhance this integration as consistent, uniform regulation facilitates the free flow of commerce.

IMO also has a strong commitment to helping achieve the aims of the Sustainable Development Goals. Shipping and ports can play a significant role in helping to create conditions for increased employment, prosperity and stability through promoting maritime trade. The port and maritime sectors can be wealth creators, both on land and at sea

Last year, the first year of our Secretary-General, he presented in his opening speech to FAL 40 three challenges: firstly to meet in regular sessions once a year which was accepted by FAL 40; secondly to focus more on the relationship between ships and ports; thirdly to make the Facilitation Committee even more inclusive and to encourage active participation from all stakeholders within Government and industry. We need the active participation of all the agencies involved in the operation, control and clearance in ports, including border control, customs, health, agriculture, ports and maritime authorities. T

he business of this Committee, to facilitate international maritime traffic in ports, requires the participation of ALL stakeholders having responsibility and involvement with activities within ports. Therefore I encourage you to share the outcome of the session with the other agencies on your return to your capital, and to extend my invitation to them to attend all future sessions of your Committee with a view to having a better debate and coming to an informed decision.

I am convinced that this Committee is the best forum for exchanging views and ideas on how to implement more efficient measures, and identifying best practice continuously to improve the facilitation of maritime transport and of shipping.


Distinguished delegates,

Now, I would like to highlight some key issues amongst the various agenda items for FAL 41:

On the proposal to revise the Explanatory Manual to the Annex to the FAL Convention, I would like to stress the importance of this guidance as a means to achieve a more effective implementation of facilitation.

While the current explanatory manual does provide a good understanding of the FAL Convention, we should take this opportunity to add value, to update and make it more user-friendly. In this context, you are going to consider a proposal for a new output for the Committee, to expand the current scope of the Manual, and I encourage you to consider this in a positive perspective, and do look forward to a positive outcome.

The Maritime Single Window project is an ambitious project, and following the decision of last session, Member States were invited to submit to the Secretariat their specific needs to explore possible solutions. To date no written inputs on the needs of possible recipient countries have been received, although the Secretariat has received some additional information of the offer made by the donors (Chile, Norway, Republic of Korea and the European Commission). Accordingly, I would encourage you to consider all aspects in order to ensure that public authorities are able to meet their obligations to establish systems for the electronic exchange of information by 8 April 2019.

Finally at this session you will have a preliminary discussion for the reinstatement of the Ship/Port Interface as an agenda item for your Committee. You may recall that the Secretary-General referred to this issue in his opening speech at the last session, and I am happy you are going to consider it at this session. 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 to 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.


Ladies and gentleman,

Before I conclude, let me remind you that the submission of nominations for the 2017 IMO Award for Exceptional Bravery at Sea is open until 14 April.

For those who are not familiar with this prestigious annual Award, it was established by the Organization to provide international recognition to individuals who, at the risk of losing their own life, perform acts of outstanding bravery while attempting to rescue persons in distress at sea or to prevent catastrophic pollution of the marine environment.

I hope you will agree that we should do our utmost to identify these remarkable people to give them the recognition they rightly deserve and I look forward to receiving your nominations.


I am confident that you will tackle the tasks before you successfully and, inspired by the customary IMO spirit of cooperation and under the able leadership of your Chair, Mr. Yury Melenas of the Russian Federation, you will make sound, balanced and timely decisions. As always, the Secretariat will be standing by to give you all the support required. I extend best wishes to all of you for success in your deliberations.

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

Thank you.