The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) has issued a call for expressions of interest from countries with a medium-sized port to take part in a pilot project to establish an efficient digitalised system for electronic exchange of information in ports for ship clearance.
In a statement, the IMO said the ‘Single Window for Facilitation of Trade (SWiFT) Project’ will develop a system in a pilot port to allow electronic submission, through one single portal, of all information required by various government agencies when a ship calls at a port.
The SWiFT project will be implemented by IMO in partnership with Singapore, the body said.
Regulations in IMO’s Facilitation Convention require electronic exchange of data, to ensure the efficient clearance of ships and the single window concept is recommended, to avoid duplication of effort.
Individual data elements should only be submitted once, electronically through a single point of entry, to the relevant regulatory agencies and other parties.
According to the IMO, the COVID-19 pandemic has emphasised the value of digitalisation and electronic exchange of required data is speedier, more reliable, efficient and COVID-secure than manual processes.
Under the pilot project, the selected country will be advised on the necessary legal, policy and institutional requirements for the MSW system. The port will then be provided with functional MSW software, hardware and/or IT services, configured to the country’s needs.
The pilot will be supported by Singapore via in-kind contributions and by IMO via the Integrated Technical Cooperation Programme (ITCP).
Kitack Lim, IMO’s Secretary-General, said, “Increased digitalisation supports greater efficiency which benefits the ship, the port and wider supply chain.
“We want to support countries in implementing the FAL Convention requirements for electronic data exchange, by supporting a pilot project which will show the way and result in know-how which can then be shared with others.”
Following the initial pilot and subject to funding availability, the aim is to replicate the pilot project in other IMO Member States in need of similar technical assistance, the IMO claimed.
Julian Abril, Head of IMO’s Facilitation Section, “Following implementation in the pilot port, the IMO-Singapore project endeavours to springboard countries in their digitalisation journey and unlock the full potential of their maritime sectors.
“It is only when most, if not all, ports undergo digital transformation, that the full benefits of digitalization can be realized by the maritime community.
“With support from IMO’s Department of Partnership and Projects, we envisage an increasing number of discussions with external partners and resource mobilization efforts to support an ambitious scaling-up plan for this pilot initiative.”