Fitting the Logistics landscape into Maritime Single Window

Fitting the Logistics landscape into Maritime Single Window

TF Spotlight: Fitting the Logistics landscape into Maritime Single Window


By January 01, 2024, all member states are required to have a Maritime Single Window System in their Ports as per the deadline set by the IMO. Can you give me an update on Malaysia’s progress in implementing this system? 


As of January 1st, 2024, the Maritime Single Window (MSW) will be enforced without further delays or postponements. This is a known fact, whether we are in favour of it. But whole MSW concept, I’m sure many people know what it is, but it is supposed to provide a single window for all Logistics processes. Subsequently, after several delays, IMO initiated the implementation of the MSW, and the primary objective was to get the first module operational, beginning with vessel clearance. If you look beyond ship clearance, the logistics landscape must be fitted into the MSW. The single window for ship clearance alone is not a big deal. Several countries have adopted digital clearance systems to obtain necessary approvals from agencies for ships entering their Ports. 


When a ship arrives at the Port, it must carry out several tasks within the Port area. These tasks include not only picking up goods but also availing necessary services like fuel, water, provisions, and crew change. However, only a few Ports have digitized these processes. The sharing of data is common, and 80% of it is used for multiple processes. Manual task execution that involves repetitive actions leads to inefficiency. Logistics includes all cargo-related activities, such as cargo operations, clearance, tracking, and documentation. It even extends to billing and payment gateways, making it a diverse and extensive field. The single window is a mechanism that, if implemented fully and thoroughly, should provide a total solution to the logistics industry. 


The Malaysian government is fully committed to prioritising ship clearance before January 1st, 2024. We are working closely with the Ministry of Transport and other relevant ministries to ensure that we achieve this goal. We understand that integrating multiple modules into the Maritime Single Window may present some challenges in the upcoming months. However, we are confident we will overcome these challenges and bring all stakeholders onto the same platform.


Though smart Ports are the next big thing for the growth of the Maritime industry, there is a significant disparity between the Ports globally. How can this gap be reduced for the holistic expansion of the Maritime sector?


When we were talking about ship clearance, I wanted to imply something other than that it’s straightforward or simple. We all can achieve it without any problems. You will be surprised; even in Malaysia, some processes go beyond the required documents. What should be the information that ships need to provide in order to make a safe entry into the Port, a decent and convenient stay in the Port and finally, for them to leave the Port? Hence, IMO has produced this compendium. Upon a vessel’s arrival at a Port, it is imperative to comply with numerous legal obligations across different countries. 


Malaysia and other governments have been urged to tackle this matter. Old laws in some countries are being questioned as global business becomes more interconnected. Certain industry sections are concerned that implementing these regulations may impede the smooth processing of transactions, impacting the speed of international commerce. 


Should we drop these laws and focus on the essential information? Governments must recognise the importance of revising and modernising their laws in the digital age to maintain efficient processes and promote consistency. Switching from manual to digital forms is just the beginning. Eliminating around 30 out of 40 forms is not only feasible but necessary. The challenge lies not in technology but in overcoming our resistance to change. It’s time to break free from our old habits and embrace a culture of innovation. With readily available technology at our fingertips, we can revolutionise our approach to efficiency. The power to make this change is in our hands, and it’s time to use it to our advantage.


By 1st January 2024, the Single Window for data exchange will become mandatory in Ports globally, marking a significant step in accelerating digitalisation in shipping. How is IAPH helping this mandate to become successful? 


While striving for equality is commendable, it’s crucial to recognise that each person has unique obstacles to overcome. Developing countries have distinct priorities and challenges, whereas small island nations are concerned about the implications of rising sea levels, among other issues. Developing countries have distinct priorities and challenges, whereas small island nations are concerned about the implications of rising sea levels, among other issues. However, we must address these issues and work towards digitalisation together. As an organisation, IAPH promotes the involvement of all its member Ports in this journey and shares knowledge and best practices with both developed and developing Ports. Capacity building is also crucial, as not everyone has the financial resources to implement these changes overnight.  


Our collaboration with IMO on digitalisation, particularly the Maritime Single Window, is progressing smoothly. In fact, we recently hosted a webinar and symposium jointly with IMO and BIMCO to raise awareness and discuss the topic further with the Maritime community. Our commitment to these initiatives is unwavering, and we are confident in our ability to make real progress towards a sustainable future. 


During our discussions on this platform, we gained valuable insights into the Maritime Single Window from various speakers. However, our survey, conducted in collaboration with the World Bank last year, revealed an alarming fact – a mere 34% of Ports worldwide have implemented digitisation or digitalisation. This discovery was surprising, as many Ports had not even begun implementing single window systems. There was a sense of worry among all parties involved. We were only a year away from achieving our goals, and an overwhelming 70% of Ports globally had yet to take any steps towards digitalisation. 


The IAPH has had many discussions on environmental issues as well as with IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee. The IMO is focused on decarbonisation and is taking the lead in this area through the MARPOL convention. We also need to help our brothers in the developing nations. Our organisation, the International Association of Ports and Harbors (IAPH), consists of members from Port authorities, Port terminals, and Logistics companies. Our organisation is actively taking steps to reduce carbon emissions. Our Energy and Climate committee is spearheading initiatives to encourage the adoption of low-carbon fuel alternatives by developing effective policies. 


One of the critical discussions is how to assist developing nations. The World Bank has shown a willingness to assist in these areas, with many programs extended to smaller developing countries. It is important to work together and provide support to all parties involved. However, there is still room for improvement in the implementation process. We believe the assistance to finance has to come from the industry. It cannot be from somewhere else. Therefore, we are looking at how to impose a carbon tax on the Port and the shipping industry. Ships that continue to use carbon-based fuels will be imposed a certain levy, and the proceeds from this levy will then be channelled to the member states or the countries that need some infrastructure to improve their facilities. This is one of those areas that many governments are also discussing internally. 


I am thrilled to announce that the tireless advocacy and awareness-raising initiatives have tremendously impacted ports globally, empowering them to confidently achieve their objectives by the upcoming year’s first day.


In these volatile times, a global recession looms over the logistics industry. What is your advice to the global Maritime industry to wade through these tough times? 


It’s important to acknowledge that things will be different from what they were before. We need to manage our expectations and understand that we may not experience the same level of prosperity as we did in the early 2000s. Being prepared for the next crisis is paramount, regardless of its form. Though we believed COVID-19 was over and expected a time of stability, geopolitical complications arose globally. The Russian and Ukrainian issues and the energy and freight rate crises led to increased costs and business difficulties. Hence, it is critical for industries such as shipping to establish resilience and brace themselves for future challenges. There are valuable lessons to be learned from the COVID-19 pandemic. 


Despite our obstacles and disasters, we have emerged stronger and better equipped to handle them. We have learned valuable lessons from our experiences and are now aware of the mistakes we need to avoid in the future. During the lockdown, we faced a major challenge due to the lack of digitalisation, which caused significant problems for our business. However, we now understand that investing in digitalisation would have helped us to continue our business as usual. As we move forward, we recognise the importance of maintaining strong customer and business contacts through collaboration rather than competition. We are confident we will thrive by focusing on these critical areas in the coming years.