SSA to raise the bar as an international maritime centre in 2017

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ICS Vice Chairman Esben Poulsson

The key focus for ‘Maritime Singapore’ in 2017 will be to continue strengthening efforts to raise the bar as a major Asian and International Maritime Centre. In this respect, the SSA is working closely with MPA and other key industry players and has outlined five key areas in its Blueprint for Growth in preparation for better times ahead for the shipping industry. The five key areas are: Regional Leadership, Legal, Finance, Operational excellence and Innovation with Technology.

Strengthening the global importance of Singapore as a maritime powerhouse and a leading maritime capital remains work in progress, and Singapore sees itself as a strong advocate for a greater prominence of the Asian maritime sector.

Singapore has long been a supporter of a strong Asian voice in shipping and will continue to promote the entire ecosystem within Asia. It continues to foster a close working relationship between its own industry, Government and the Unions, but also with other regional bodies such as the Asian Shipowners’ Association (ASA), Federation of ASEAN Shipowners’ Associations (FASA), as well as the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and other international trade associations. This forms the backbone of SSA’s strategy to help implement a Blueprint for Growth of Asian shipping.

As Esben Poulsson, President of the SSA, said: “Regionally, Singapore has gained the support of ASEAN member states for the development of a common ASEAN Ballast Water exemption area while we have also played a key role in the development of the ReCAAP Regional Guide to Counter Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia.

“At a local level, cooperation remains strong between Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA), the Singapore Maritime Foundation (SMF) and other stakeholders to look at ways to increase productivity, streamline operational efficiencies and generally resolve any difficulties the shipping industry in Singapore may have encountered relating to operations and services in Singapore,” he added.

On the theme of manpower development and productivity, to boost the future readiness of Singapore’s maritime workforce, the MPA has enhanced the Maritime Cluster Fund for Manpower Development (MCF-MD) to include a wider scope of topics for training programmes and longer durations for overseas training attachments. The SSA strongly supports these developments.

And to give a further boost to companies’ productivity efforts, we are also pleased that the MPA has increased the co-funding for MCF-Productivity (MCF-PD) from 50% to 70% of qualifying costs, and expanded the scope of qualifying costs to include software licensing, specialised hardware as well as salaries of up to two company employees to carry out the productivity projects.

Mr Poulsson added: “Looking forward to 2017, the SSA has been very much involved with the tripartite initiatives with the MPA and the seafarers’ union in crafting the Industry Transformation Maps (ITMs). Under the S$4.5 billion program, roadmaps will be developed for 23 industries to address issues within each industry and deepen partnerships between Government, firms, industries, trade associations and chambers. The maritime sector is one of these.”

Mr Poulsson said: “In line with our efforts, together with our fellow maritime stakeholders, to further enhance Singapore’s position as a leading International Maritime Centre, we believe that more needs to be done in the fields of ship finance and marine insurance. Our efforts on these two fronts are ongoing and remain very much work-in-progress. We continue to be very active in engaging all the relevant stakeholders in both fields and have also been collaborating with the Singapore Exchange (SGX) to help raise the profile of the Exchange with an eye to increasing listings from the maritime sector”.

“In this respect, we strongly believe that ‘Maritime Singapore’ will be able to leverage off SGX’s recent successful acquisition of the Baltic Exchange and we look forward to playing our part in this regard. On the insurance front, the Singapore War Risk Mutual continues to grow steadily,
and I believe our membership should be proud of our contribution to making this entity a reality,” he said.

In the area of innovation and smart technologies, we are pleased to note that the MPA is adopting technology to help maritime companies innovate and move into new growth areas. The establishment of the MPA Living Lab, and the setting up of three Centres of Excellence to deepen maritime R&D competencies are other very positive developments. The additional enhancement of the Maritime Cluster Fund (MCF) for Manpower Development and the MCF for Productivity, is another exciting development to help Singaporeans up-skill for more knowledge-intensive jobs and maritime companies, to adopt technology and to improve business processes.

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