Maritime Single Window: One year to go for ports to implement

Mohammed Bello-Koko, NPA Managing Director

From 1 January 2024 it will be compulsory for ports around the world to operate Maritime Single Windows (MSWs) for the electronic exchange of information required on ships’ arrival at a port, their stay and their departure. This mandatory change follows the adoption by IMO’s Facilitation Committee of amendments to the FAL Convention.   

This  development was an outcome of the two-day symposium held by International Maritime Organization (IMO) in London last week, to discuss how Member States can implement MSWs before the January 2024 deadline.

The theme of the symposium was “Maritime Single Window 2024– A window of opportunities” and was jointly organized by IMO, IAPH and BIMCO, with the support of the International Port Community Systems Association (IPCSA).  

A host of experts from across the shipping and ports sectors explored how MSWs fit with national digitalization strategies, the best approach to designing and implementing MSWs to suit Member States’ maritime trade facilitation objectives and objectives to achieve the greening of shipping.  

Also discussed were the concept of interoperability and understanding how to apply industry standards to harmonize electronic data exchanges, as well as port call data requirements, and the development of strategic partnerships. 

Opening the Symposium at IMO’s London headquarters, IMO Secretary General, Mr Kitack Lim, said that making MSWs mandatory from 1 January 2024 was not only “a significant step towards accelerating digitalization in the maritime trade”, but also “an opportunity for all stakeholders in shipping, and a necessary step forward”.  

Mr Lim said, too, that taking this step would accelerate the digitalization and decarbonization aspirations of international shipping. He praised progress made in recent years by the shipping and port industries and pledged IMO’s support to Member States in finding tangible solutions to the forthcoming new obligations under the FAL Convention.   

In his opening remarks IAPH’s President, Subramaniam Karuppiah, warned that COVID-19 pandemic emphasised that the maritime industry is seriously lagging behind in its move to digitalization. Nikolaus Schües, President Designate of BIMCO, sounded an optimistic note, describing MSW as “an opportunity to be exploited and one we cannot afford to miss”.

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