The ASEAN region holds great opportunities for shipping, especially when the global economy and the shipping industry as a whole still face uncertain times.
This was the message delivered by Singapore Shipping Association Honorary Secretary Esben Poulsson at the start of the SSA’s Shipping Conference 2013 – “Strategies in Uncertain Times”.
He told delegates: “Shipping is a global industry and while great attention has been paid to global trends and the state of the US and European economies, one should not fail to realise the dynamism and robustness of the maritime sector in the South East Asian region.
“The combined population of the ASEAN countries, which is close to 600 million people, is a fairly large consumer base. With increasing affluence, the region is expected to increase the demand of goods and services in the years ahead. Despite the global economic slowdown, the Asian Development Bank has projected that ASEAN is forecast to grow 5.2% this year and 5.6% in 2014. These growths are largely dependent on trade within the ASEAN community. An essential element of that community is ASEAN’s economic integration.”
Mr Poulsson said the plan by the ASEAN region to establish an ASEAN Economic Community was fast taking shape and “the phased removal of tariffs and trade barriers for goods and services by 2015, particularly with regard to the development of an ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA), will boost the bloc’s appeal as a production base.
“Moreover, an integrated ASEAN economy would allow ASEAN to compete, both within Asia and on a global scale. Whilst more needs to be done, particularly with regard to connectivity, there are great opportunities for shipping companies in ASEAN, especially when the global economy and the industry as a whole still face uncertain times,” he said.