An urgent call to action has been made by several shipping and port industry partners to accelerate the pace of digitalization the cope with the new realities that will be faced in a post-COVID-19 new normal.
BIMCO, which is part of the call, has noted that while some port communities seized the opportunities of the fourth industrial revolution and developed into full-fledged ‘smart’ ports, many others have barely grasped the essentials of digitalization. The latter continue to struggle with larger reliance on personal interaction and paper-based transactions as the norms for shipboard, ship-port interface and port-hinterland based exchanges, the organization said.
To date, only 49 of the 174 Member States of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) possess functioning Port Community Systems – co-signees call for wide-ranging adoption of secure electronic data exchange.
The call to action, titled “Accelerating Digitalization of Maritime Trade and Logistics”, noted the following: “The COVID-19 crisis has painfully demonstrated the heterogeneous landscape that currently exists across ports worldwide.
“While some port communities seized the opportunities of the fourth industrial revolution and developed into full-fledged ‘smart’ ports, many others have barely grasped the essentials of digitalization and continue to struggle with larger reliance on personal interaction and paper-based transactions as the norms for shipboard, ship-port interface and port-hinterland based exchanges”
International Port Community Systems Association (IPCSA) Chairman Hans Rook, who was also one of the initiators of the development of a Port Community System for Rotterdam in the early 2000s, said: “It is great to see the whole industry supporting the same message that the International Port Community Systems Association has been promoting since its inception in 2011.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has proved the value of Port Community Systems and Single Windows and this Call to Action is a milestone in having the whole industry supporting Member States and port authorities to work together, collaborate and develop these critical systems.”
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The co-signees include numerous priorities in the call to action including the support of smaller, less developed, and under-staffed port communities with technical facilities and personnel training.
These priorities also include assessing the state of implementation and find ways to enforce the already mandatory requirements defined in the IMO’s Facilitation (IMO FAL) Convention to support transmission, receipt, and response of information required for the arrival, stay, and departure of ships, persons, and cargo, including notifications and declarations for customs, immigration, port and security authorities, via electronic data exchange, making the transition to full-fledged single windows.
It calls for the establishment of a coalition of willing stakeholders to improve transparency of the supply chain, starting with long overdue introduction of the electronic bill of lading. It has already been suggested by many that the use of electronic bills of lading could be accelerated by the pandemic.
The call to action was launched by the following organizations: The International Association of Ports and Harbors (IAPH), BIMCO, the International Cargo Handling Coordination Association (ICHCA), the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), the International Harbour Masters’ Association (IHMA), the International Maritime Pilots Association (IMPA), IPCSA, the International Ship Suppliers’ Association (ISSA), the Federation of National Associations of Ship Brokers and Agents (FONASBA) and the PROTECT Group.