Facilitation Committee (FAL), 47th session, 13-17 March 2023 – opening remarks

Opening remarks by IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim Facilitation Committee (FAL 47), 13-17 March 2023 – opening remarks

Distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen,  

I am very pleased to welcome you all to the 47th session of the Facilitation Committee.   

Distinguished delegates,  

As we continue to hear about the devastating consequences of the earthquake in Türkiye and the Syrian Arab Republic, I would like to remind you that we have launched an Appeal for Funds and a mechanism to facilitate donations on behalf of the IMO family. Subsequently, the donations collected will be sent to the to the United Nations Secretariat fund to support efforts providing experts, emergency relief, food, medical supplies and other life-saving items.  

Details with the bank account for the donations has been published in a Circular letter No.4696. The appeal will remain open till the 27th of March. 

I informed the membership of the organisation previously of the sad passing of our dear colleague and Vice-Chair of TCC, Mrs. Mandana Mansoorian, Alternate Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the IMO. In this regard, the condolence book remains open until the end of this FAL session on the 4th floor. And I would like to express my appreciation for the many delegates that have already paid tribute to our dear departed colleague. 

Distinguished delegates, 

As many of you will be aware, this is the last time I will address this important Committee as Secretary-General, after eight years at the helm of the Organization.  

I want to use this opportunity to stress my firm belief that the maritime sector can and must play a significant role in helping Member States to create the conditions necessary for increased employment, prosperity and stability through the promotion of global trade by sea, and the development of a sustainable blue economy.  

Your Committee has taken significant steps to accelerate digitalization in maritime transport, in particular with the amendments to the FAL Convention adopted in 2016 and 2022, making the electronic exchange of information and the establishment of maritime single windows in ports mandatory.   

When I started my tenure as Secretary-General, I saw three main challenges with regard to facilitation matters, based on my long career at sea and in the public sector. 

These were: firstly, to meet in regular sessions once a year; 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 the port and shipping industry. I believe that we have far exceeded these expectations. 

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all Member States and NGOs, and in particular the Chair and Vice-Chair of this Committee for their special efforts in this regard. 

During the last years, IMO has also strengthened the cooperation with other UN agencies and international organizations and has successfully implemented technical cooperation activities to assist countries in the implementation of maritime single windows, in cooperation with donor countries. We have also launched various campaigns to raise the public profile and improve the understanding of the work of the Organization with regard to facilitation.  

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 contribute to the global trade and economy by facilitating maritime transport and enhancing the efficiency of shipping. 

This year's World Maritime theme is "MARPOL at 50 - Our commitment goes on", providing an opportunity for the maritime community to highlight the relevance and importance of the MARPOL treaty now and into the future.   

In this regard, I would like to highlight the importance of this Committee for the concerted effort within the Organization to address the challenges emanating from the decarbonization of shipping, which of course includes your work to improve the efficiency of navigation; the just‑in-time concept; the use of the maritime single window to improve ship-port communications and accelerate clearance processes; and the reduction of dwell time of ships at ports.   

This will be another intense session of your Committee.  

You are expected to adopt a new amendment to the FAL Convention to take into account the need to combat illicit activities in the national facilitation programmes of the Governments, and you will start the work on the review of the Explanatory Manual to the Convention, to update its contents to reflect the amendments adopted last year.  

You are also expected to finalize the new version of the IMO Compendium on Facilitation and Electronic Business, and the guidelines for harmonized communication and electronic exchange of operational data for port calls.  

As a side event during this session, a Symposium on ʺAddressing law enforcement challenges in the maritime supply chain to improve facilitation of international maritime traffic", jointly organized by the Secretariat and INTERPORTPOLICE, will be held in plenary on Thursday. I encourage you all to attend and actively participate in the discussions which promise to be very interesting. 

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, ably supported by your Vice-Chair Mohamed Al Kaabi of the United Arab Emirates, you will have open and informative discussions and will reach agreement on the agenda items under consideration. 

It only remains for me to wish you a productive session and I invite you all to join me and the Secretariat for a welcome reception in the Delegates' Lounge after the close of today's business. 

Thank you.