Chan Chun Sing, Singapore’s Minister for Trade and Industry, in his keynote speech at the 13th Singapore Maritime Lecture, spoke about how Singapore can position itself for the future amidst changes and competition in the maritime industry.
“To truly succeed as a Maritime Hub, we must see physical trade not in isolation; but as part of a multifaceted connectivity that includes data, talent, technology and finance flows. Our selling point has to go beyond our geographical location and our reputation as a “catch-up port.”
“This means broadening and deepening our maritime service offerings by strengthening complementary adjacent sectors such as finance, insurance, commodity trading and logistics,” says Minister Chan.
He also added that Singapore must defend the open rules-based global trading order.
“The multilateral trading system has underpinned global economic growth and development for the past few decades. It provides predictability and stability through a set of rules agreed to by all 164 WTO Members.”
Four driving forces of the maritime industry
Minister Chan started off his presentation by identifying key driving forces for the maritime industry.
These include 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. Singapore 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.
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.
Singapore is defined by how she responds to the challenges and competition 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.