30 March 2012

Mr Jose Digeronimo, President, Panama Chamber of Shipping
Distinguished guests,
Ladies and gentlemen,

Good afternoon, I am Yi Young from the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (or MPA for short). My colleagues and I are very pleased to be able to join you for today's luncheon.

First, I would like to thank the Panama Chamber of Shipping for giving us this opportunity to meet up with the shipping fraternity from this part of the world. While Panama and Singapore are geographically very far apart, we are both major maritime and trading nations by virtue of our geographical locations. The signing of the Panama-Singapore Free Trade Agreement back in 2006 was a good start that brought us closer, and I welcome more opportunities for collaborations in the future.

The maritime sector in Singapore has traditionally played an important role in our economic development. In fact, modern Singapore started essentially as a trading post and port. In tandem with the rise in international trade, Singapore's port has grown significantly and today it is one of the world's busiest ports in terms of ship arrival tonnage, container throughput and bunker sales.

Besides being a busy port, Singapore is also home to some of the world's top shipping lines and maritime companies, offering a rich diversity of maritime products and services like shipping finance, ship broking, marine insurance and maritime law. Singapore is also a global player in the offshore and marine engineering industry. All in, there are more than 5,000 maritime companies employing around 170,000 people and contributing to about 7% of Singapore's GDP.

As the agency tasked with championing and developing the maritime sector in Singapore, MPA aims to develop and promote Singapore as a premier global hub port and an International Maritime Centre, and to advance and safeguard Singapore's strategic maritime interests.

Enhancing Our Infrastructure and Supporting R&D

The Singapore government is committed to maintaining the competitiveness of our hub port and we continue to build for the future. Despite the uncertainties in the shipping market over the past few years, we pressed ahead with our plans to expand our Pasir Panjang Container Terminal. When completed in a few years' time, this will add capacity to handle another 14 million TEUs a year, bringing our total handling capacity to about 50 million TEUs.

As the port authority, we also work closely with our terminal operators to encourage them to embrace research and development and to adopt new technologies to enhance productivity and environmental sustainability. Just last year, we signed memorandums of understanding with both PSA Corporation and Jurong Port to co-fund research into new port technologies and green technologies. The two MOUs will see MPA, PSA and Jurong Port jointly investing some S$32 million in research and development.

To further build up Singapore as a maritime knowledge hub, MPA established the Singapore Maritime Institute (or SMI) last year in collaboration with other government agencies. SMI will be driving maritime education and research and development in areas such as green shipping, maritime logistics and operations, and offshore and marine engineering.

One of the first major projects that SMI is embarking on jointly with MPA is the Next Generation Container Port Challenge. Set to be officially launched next month, the Challenge is a global competition to solicit innovative ideas on how to design and operate future container terminals. The winner of the Challenge stands to walk away with a US$1 million cash prize.

Safeguarding the Environment

But even as we seek to develop Singapore's maritime industry, we are mindful that our growth must be environmentally sustainable and that we must safeguard our precious marine environment. This is especially acute for a small country like Singapore, where within a land area of only 710 square kilometres, we have to cater for our port, our homes, our offices, schools, industries and recreational facilities, all in close proximity of one other.

In July last year, MPA implemented a comprehensive Maritime Singapore Green Initiative to support and promote clean and green shipping. The Green Initiative comprises 3 programmes - the "Green Ship Programme", "Green Port Programme" and the "Green Technology Programme". These are voluntary programmes designed to recognise and incentivise companies to adopt clean and green shipping practices above the minimum required by IMO conventions.

The Green Ship Programme promotes the use of energy efficient ship designs that reduces fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emission. The Green Port Programme incentivises ocean-going ships calling at the Port of Singapore to reduce emission of pollutants like sulphur oxides and nitrogen oxides, while the Green Technology Programme encourages local maritime companies to develop and adopt green technologies by providing co-funding for up to half of the qualifying costs. We are heartened to see encouraging response and participation from the industry thus far, even though the initiative was only launched last year.

People and Partnership

Besides physical infrastructure and technology, we also need to invest in people as having people with the right knowledge and skills is instrumental to enabling and sustaining the growth of the maritime cluster.

MPA thus places great emphasis on the development of manpower capabilities. We partner with institutes of higher learning to enhance the range of maritime courses and programmes that students can choose from. Examples of tertiary courses that students in Singapore can take include the Masters and Bachelor of Science in Maritime Studies, Masters of Law in Maritime Law and Diploma in Nautical Studies.

Given the varied career opportunities available in Singapore and our low unemployment rate, attracting young Singaporeans to join the maritime industry is a challenge. To reach out and promote maritime careers, MPA works closely with our industry partners - the Singapore Maritime Foundation, the Singapore Shipping Association and the Association of Singapore Marine Industries, on the Maritime Outreach Network (MaritimeONE). Activities organised by MaritimeONE include industry awareness seminars, student outreach events and networking opportunities between potential employers and tertiary students.

MaritimeONE, in partnership with maritime companies, also offers scholarships to attract the best and brightest into the industry. MPA also partners our seafarer unions and shipping companies in awarding scholarships to students interested in seafaring as a career.

A maritime degree or diploma is not the end to the quest for knowledge, and the learning should not stop with a graduate entering the workforce. To encourage companies to continuously upgrade and train their employees, the Maritime Cluster Fund (MCF) was set up by MPA to support maritime companies in developing their manpower capabilities. Such manpower development activities could be in the form of training, talent management and establishment of HR tools and practices by companies.


Ladies and Gentlemen, I hope that through my sharing thus far, I have given you a flavour of our efforts in promoting the maritime industry in Singapore. Maritime is a very important part of Singapore's economy and we are committed to supporting and facilitating the continued growth of the industry. We take a partnership approach of working with the industry, the unions and academic and research institutes in developing our people, our infrastructure and our technologies.

I look forward to learning more about Panama's experience and views on the development of your maritime industry, and hope that through today's sharing, we can find further opportunities to learn from and collaborate with each other.

With this, I wish you an enjoyable lunch. Thank you.