Facilitation Committee (FAL 42), 5-8 June 2018 (opening address)


Good morning Mr. Chair, excellencies, distinguished delegates,

It is a pleasure for me to welcome you to the forty-second session of the Facilitation Committee.  I extend a particular welcome to those of you who are attending the Committee for the first time.

Before I begin my opening address, I wish to express my sincerest sympathy, compassion and condolences to the people of Guatemala, which suffered a volcanic eruption that sadly caused loss of life and significant damage to both property and the environment.  I appreciate the work of the national authorities and first responders, and their continued efforts to deal with the aftermath of this catastrophe.

Distinguished delegates,

I am delighted to inform you that we have recently welcomed the latest Member State – Nauru – to the Organization, bringing our membership to 174, and so far this year the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia have acceded to the FAL Convention, bringing the total of Contracting Governments to 120.

Allow me first to comment briefly on general matters of importance to the work of the Organization. I would like to take this opportunity to say a few words about this year's World Maritime Day theme, which is "IMO 70: Our heritage – better shipping for a better future".

On 6 March, we celebrated 70 years since the Convention establishing IMO was adopted. We were extremely honoured to receive Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II here at IMO Headquarters. Her Majesty unveiled a commemorative plaque, cut an anniversary cake and met representatives from the IMO family – I know some of you here today were able to join us on that happy occasion. 

We are planning a series of further events and initiatives to commemorate 70 years of achievement, in which the truly vital industry of shipping has become safer, cleaner and greener, thanks to the work of IMO. This year’s World Maritime Day will be celebrated at IMO Headquarters on 27 September, and the annual parallel event will be organized by the Government of Poland in Szczecin next week, from 13 to 15 June 2018.

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.


Distinguished delegates,

As I already stated at your last session, it is my firm belief that 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 contribution of the Organization and the maritime sector to the world economy, through the development and effective implementation of international measures to further improve the efficiency of shipping.

IMO also has a strong commitment to 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.

At FAL 40, I presented three challenges ahead with regard to facilitation matters: firstly to meet in regular sessions once a year which was accepted by your Committee; secondly to focus more on the relationship between ships and ports; and thirdly to make the Facilitation Committee even more inclusive and to encourage active participation from all stakeholders within Government and industry.

With the idea to strengthen the links between ships and ports, I have promoted the Special Port Event to be held next Monday, 11 June, when almost 20 panellists will share their views on port related issues such as the maritime single window, the port community system, ways to improve facilitation, best practices to improve coordination at ports, improvement of efficiency of ports and implementation of measures to reduce emissions in ports, including on-shore power supply. The importance of port security will also be covered. You are all welcome to attend. This event will be followed, on 12 and 13 June, by a port security focused event organized in cooperation with the International Association of Airport and Sea Port Police. This is the first time that the Secretariat has organized these type of events with regard to facilitation and port security matters, recognizing that the ports and the shipping sector need to work closer together, and to promote the facilitation of international maritime traffic. Expert panellists will have the opportunity to present their views on different topics, such as the electronic exchange of information, best practices at ports and ways to improve coordination and security operations at ports.

With these events, the Organization is getting closer to meeting the challenges that I mentioned earlier. However, we cannot be complacent, and we need to do more.

The business of this Committee, to facilitate international maritime traffic in ports, requires the participation of all stakeholders, including border control, customs, health, agriculture, ports and maritime authorities, having responsibility and involvement with activities within ports. Therefore I encourage you to share the outcome of this session with other agencies on your return to your capitals, and to extend my invitation to them to attend future sessions of your Committee, with a view to having richer debates and better informed decisions.

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

Distinguished delegates,

I would like to highlight some key issues among the various items on the agenda of FAL 42.

Regarding the revision of 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. I encourage you to share your experience in discussions on this subject, and hope that you will make good progress at this session.

You will also consider the legal status of the Appendices to the FAL Convention, to ensure that their status is correctly reflected in the text of the Convention and therefore in national legislation, and I am confident that the advice of the Legal Committee will help you to make a sound decision on this important matter.

Concerning the single window, the Committee will consider at this session two important issues: the review of the Guidelines for setting up a single window system in maritime transport and the Maritime Single Window project. This is an ambitious project, and you will consider the views of Member States and international organizations submitted to this session. Again, I would like to encourage you to have fruitful discussions in order to arrive at a decision on the project.

As for the progress of the review of the IMO Compendium, I would like to highlight the importance of the work on the harmonization and standardization of the data elements of the FAL Forms, to guarantee the interoperability of maritime single windows. In this regard, I would like to express my sincere appreciation for the work done by WCO and for its leadership in the role of coordinator for the revision of the IMO Compendium, through its Data Maintenance Project Team Focus Group on "IMO FAL Compendium Technical Maintenance". I would also like to express my sincere appreciation to UNECE and ISO for helping to harmonize the various data models, and to the other organizations and Member States involved for adding their expertise and perspectives to ensure diverse needs are identified and met.


Mr. Chair, excellencies, distinguished delegates,

The agenda places heavy demands on you during the coming four meeting days, when you are expected to make progress on a large number of important issues.  I am confident that, with your unswerving commitment to promote the facilitation of international maritime traffic, and with the customary IMO spirit of cooperation, you will make the sound, balanced and timely decisions that have been the hallmark of the Committee over the years.

The proven leadership skills of your Chair, Mr. Yury Melenas of the Russian Federation, supported by his Vice-Chair, Ms. Marina Angsell of Sweden, will guarantee that the agenda of this session will be tackled successfully.  I am sure that all of you will assist them, so that the Committee may reach the best and most widely acceptable outcomes. 

With this, I wish you every success in your deliberations and look forward to welcoming you all to the customary drinks reception I will be hosting after close of business today in the Delegates’ Lounge.

Thank you.