Singapore’s Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing on Monday (8 April) delivered a keynote speech titled “Whither Singapore as a Maritime Hub?” at the 13th Singapore Maritime Lecture on how Singapore can position itself for the future amidst changes in the maritime industry.
He spoke on rising protectionism which could inhibit global trade; increased consumerism in Asia which could create growth opportunities for the shipping industry; technological changes and greater intermodal connectivity that will affect future maritime landscape; and climate change that will shift the shipping regulatory landscape or upend the maritime economic ecosystem in the region.
As shipping redesigns its business models for the 21st century, Singapore must also rethink its maritime strategy, he said while adding the republic can only retain her Global Hub Port and International Maritime Centre status if she could navigate the challenges well and harness opportunities that come with the driving forces.
Chan shared, to address increased consumerism and climate change, Singapore must continue to establish linkages with key markets. For example, the Comprehensive and Progressive (CPTPP), the ASEAN agreements, EU-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and upcoming FTAs like the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and MERCOSUR will open up more markets for maritime businesses.
Singapore must also leverage data to create a platform where everyone can participate in global connectivity. Initiatives such as ASEAN Single Window and the Singapore’s Networked Trade Platform will not only help traders transform their businesses but also reap greater efficiencies in time and cost.
Chan added, to succeed as a maritime hub, physical trade should not be seen in isolation but as a multifaceted connectivity that includes data, talent, technology and finance flows.
Singapore also needs to broaden and deepen her maritime services offerings by strengthening complementary adjacent sectors such as finance, insurance, commodity trading and logistics as well as nurture a pipeline of Singapore maritime experts.
In addition, Singapore must defend open rules-based trading order, albeit the rules need updating in the new economy, to promote predictable pro-business and open environment.
Chan concluded Singapore is defined by how she responds to the challenges such as by working with like-minded partners and diversifying her sources, making services and technology as Singapore’s maritime comparative advantage and developing a global maritime platform that transcends geography.
Photo credit: Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore
Published: 9 April, 2019
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