Two conferences last week brought into focus the abiding salience that the seas provide for the economic and physical security that many here and in the region take for granted. The International Maritime Security Conference, which just ended its sixth edition, has turned into a valuable platform to debate the security landscape. The other event, the International Maritime Defence Exhibition and Conference (Imdex) Asia, gathers service chiefs and top officials from more than 40 navies and maritime agencies. That Imdex has grown from five participating navies in 1997 to its current size speaks volumes for how maritime issues have moved to be front and centre in strategic thinking. More on those considerations will be heard when regional security chiefs meet at the Shangri-La Dialogue at the end of this month.
Sitting at the confluence of two key arterial networks - the Strait of Malacca and the South China Sea - Singapore has both an enviable and unenviable perch. Fully a quarter of all traded goods globally pass through the Singapore Strait, with the ship numbers climbing to a thousand a day sometimes. Nine of the 10 busiest ports in the world are in this region. Despite global uncertainty, there is no let-up in the growth of trade volumes transported by sea. The seas, therefore, are both lifeline and lifeblood for the Singapore economy.