​Facilitation Committee (FAL 44), 28 September - 2 October 2020 (opening remarks)

Facilitation Committee (FAL 44), 28 September - 2 October 2020. Remote meeting

Opening remarks by IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim

Distinguished delegates, good morning, good afternoon, good evening:

Before the 44th session of the FAL Committee opens, it is a great pleasure for me to welcome you to what will be the first virtual regular session of an IMO Committee.

Two weeks ago, we held an extraordinary session of all IMO Committees, where all the participants agreed on administrative and procedural matters necessary to facilitate the holding of virtual regular sessions of all Committees during the COVD-19 pandemic. The session gave us the opportunity to demonstrate that IMO is ready and working hard to continue its mission, progressing on its policy issues, and especially that the inability to meet in person will not stop us from advancing on our work.

Taking into account the constraints imposed globally due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the restrictions which have necessarily been imposed on travel, as well as the profound changes the current situation has brought to our traditional working methods, the Secretariat is doing its best to continue serving Member States as usual and ensure IMO is prepared to address the challenges to our industry as effectively and expediently as possible.

I am aware that the Chair is proposing to the Committee a streamlined agenda for the meeting, with the consideration of a number of agenda items and documents postponed to FAL 45. In view of the prevailing situation, allowances need to be made since the workload of your Committee will have to be accommodate in much less time than we would usually have available for IMO meetings. therefore you are expected to concentrate your efforts on the most important items, leaving other matters for the next session, which will take place in 2021, hopefully under much more "normal" conditions.

One of the main topics at this session 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, a matter of great importance which has gained enormously in significance during the COVID-19 pandemic. Other important topics you are about to consider will be the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on facilitation and, in particular, possible amendments to the FAL Convention to minimise the impact of any future pandemic; as well as discussions on guidance to address maritime corruption.

This session of your Committee will be held with remote simultaneous interpretation into our six official languages and each of the four meetings during the session is expected to last for three hours. I am confident that the customary IMO spirit of cooperation will prevail during your deliberations and that, under the able leadership of your experienced Chair, Ms. Marina Angsell of Sweden, you will have open and informative discussions and will reach agreement on the agenda items under consideration to pave the way to make progress on IMO's work in the following months. 

I would now invite the Chair of the FAL Committee, Ms. Marina Angsell, to formally open the forty-fourth session of the Facilitation Committee.

Thank you.