UNCTAD MARITIME REPORT 2021: Legal and regulatory developments and the facilitation of maritime trade

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) has just published its Review of Maritime Transport 2021, looking at the impact of events in the past two years on maritime transport in general and on the challenges faced by seafarers in particular.

IMN is covering each of the (six) individual chapters separately.

Today, Chapter 6: Legal and regulatory developments and the facilitation of maritime trade.

Many of the latest innovations in maritime transport involve online and automated systems that raise concerns about cybersecurity. However, shipowners and operators can also take advantage of recently adopted guidelines on how to maintain cybersecurity in their companies and onboard ships, taking into account the requirements of IMO, and other relevant guidelines.

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted many systemic weaknesses, including delays in documentation and related problems, which could provide an impetus for the more widespread use of secure electronic solutions that are already available and accepted by the market. Related work at UN bodies, including the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL), is also underway, to explore the possibility of developing a negotiable transport document or electronic record.

In addition, the industry is conducting trials on maritime autonomous surface ships (MASS). In May 2021, the IMO Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) completed a regulatory scoping exercise. A number of high-priority issues, cutting across several legal instruments, remain to be addressed at a policy level to determine future work.

In June 2021, the IMO adopted amendments to Annex VI of the MARPOL Convention aimed at reducing carbon intensity of ships and including targets for energy efficiency, to further reduce GHG emissions from shipping. The industry is also planning an International Maritime Research and Development Board, a non-governmental body funded by a $2-per-ton-levy on shipping fuel. Other important regulatory developments relate to the ship-source pollution control and environmental protection measures, including shipping and climate change mitigation and adaptation; air pollution, in particular sulphur emissions; oil pollution from ships; ballast water management; and biofouling.

The chapter covers in detail:

A. TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENTS IN THE MARITIME INDUSTRY

  1. Ensuring maritime cybersecurity
  2. Maritime autonomous surface ships

B. REGULATORY DEVELOPMENTS RELATING TO INTERNATIONAL SHIPPING, CLIMATE CHANGE AND OTHER ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES

  1. IMO action on greenhouse gas emissions
  2. Adapting transport infrastructure to the impacts of climate change
  3. Protecting the marine environment and biodiversity

C. LEGAL AND REGULATORY IMPLICATIONS OF THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

D. OTHER LEGAL AND REGULATORY DEVELOPMENTS AFFECTING TRANSPORTATION

  1. Combating fraudulent registration and registries
  2. Multimodal transport discussions at UNCITRAL and ESCAP
  3. Status of conventions

E. MARITIME TRANSPORT WITHIN THE WTO TRADE FACILITATION AGREEMENT

  1. Implementation of the WTO TFA
  2. Measures related to maritime transport
  3. The value of public-private dialogue
  4. Improving technology and extending digitalization

F. FAL CONVENTION

  1. Main provisions of the Convention
  2. FAL Convention requirements for maritime single windows and port community systems

G. ASYCUDA ASYHUB CASE STUDIES

  1. Digitizing Global Maritime Trade
  2. ASYHUB and single window integration

In its summary, UNCTAD said that for ensuring maritime cybersecurity, the maritime sector was increasingly structured around online and automated systems. Recently updated industry guidelines offered shipowners and operators information on procedures and actions to maintain cybersecurity in their companies and ships – adopting cyber-risk management approaches that take account of IMO requirements and other relevant guidelines.

In the MASS sector UNCTAD said that the industry was advancing rapidly with the technology. In May 2021, the IMO Maritime Safety Committee completed a regulatory scoping exercise which highlighted high-priority issues that cut across several instruments and will need policy decisions to determine future work. “This could result in a MASS instrument or code, with goals, functional requirements and corresponding regulations. Developing countries representatives and other stakeholders are encouraged to contribute to future discussions.”

https://unctad.org/system/files/official-document/rmt2021ch6_en.pdf