With over 80 per cent of global trade today travelling by sea and Singapore's position as a leading container hub port with the world's largest trans-shipment volumes, the Republic takes great interest in the future of the maritime sector and wants to contribute to it.
One crucial way for the sector to stay relevant and move ahead is to harness technology, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat said yesterday as he launched the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore's (MPA) new digital platform for providing one-stop clearance for vessel-related transactions.
Besides technology, he said the sector has to address climate change in areas such as emissions management as well as uphold a rules-based multilateral trading system.
"The maritime industry has put Singapore prominently on the global map and it remains critical to the Singapore economy.
"Hence, we take a great interest in the future of the maritime industry, and we want to contribute to the development of the maritime community," said Mr Heng during the Global Maritime Forum's Annual Summit at the Flower Dome at Gardens by the Bay.
The new digital platform, Portal for One-stop Regulatory Transactions, or digitalPORT@SG, will simplify the current reporting process required by three public agencies - MPA, the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority, and the National Environment Agency - for all ships arriving in and departing from Singapore.
"This (digitalPORT@SG) will be rolled out progressively from December this year, and is estimated to save the industry 100,000 man-hours per year," said Mr Heng, who is also the Finance Minister.
The maritime industry has put Singapore prominently on the global map and it remains critical to the Singapore economy.
DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER HENG SWEE KEAT, on why Singapore takes great interest in the future of the maritime sector and wants to contribute to it.
A second phase over the next few years will see digitalPORT@SG become a single platform for the booking of terminal and marine services, allowing vessels to optimise their time spent in port.
"We also hope to make digitalPORT@SG interoperable beyond Singapore's shores, so that industry players can gain greater operational efficiency," said Mr Heng.
He added that the MPA has signed a memorandum of understanding with the China Maritime Safety Administration for the seamless exchange of ship credentials for port regulatory functions, and is similarly collaborating with Denmark, Finland and Panama.
In addressing climate change, Mr Heng said Singapore fully supports the global maritime sector's sustainability efforts.
The country is ready for liquefied natural gas (LNG) bunkering, which is a cleaner and greener fuel alternative, he said, adding that the MPA has co-funded two LNG bunker tankers.
"The first tanker will be delivered in the third quarter of next year. This will coincide with the anticipated increase in LNG demand, as more ocean-going LNG-fuelled vessels come into operation and call at our port," said Mr Heng.
He also shared that the Centre of Excellence for Maritime Energy and Sustainable Development has been set up at Nanyang Technological University, to "develop innovative solutions in the areas of sustainable maritime operations, emissions management and energy management".
It is also important to review and update global rules of trade and undertake "difficult structural reforms".
He said the maritime sector particularly benefits from global rules such as the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, and such a system must continue.
MPA chief executive Quah Ley Hoon said: "The unprecedented pace of change we face today would affect maritime trade flows, transform business models and impact our collective commitment to sustainability."
She added that such demands present the global maritime community with opportunities to work together to address the issues.
More than 200 maritime industry experts and policymakers from 37 countries are attending the two-day Global Maritime Forum's Annual Summit, which started yesterday.