As the global economy makes small strides toward improvement, Singapore’s Minister of Transport Lui Tuck Yew said the government is optimistic about shipping prospects for 2014, and will focus on the long-term growth of the maritime industry.
“The industry has braved yet another challenging year. Shipping companies continue to grapple with the perennial challenges of overcapacity, manpower constraints, high energy prices and new environmental regulations,” Lui said in his speech at the Singapore Shipping Association Lunar New Year Cocktail Reception on February 6 at Raffles City Convention Centre.
“However, it is not all doom and gloom. Many of us in the shipping community are now adopting a cautiously optimistic outlook for the new year.”
The International Monetary Fund, in its latest World Economic Outlook Update, has predicted global growth to increase from 3 percent in 2013 to 3.7 percent this year.
Singapore’s maritime sector registered good growth last year, Lui continued. The port posted another record year in container throughput and vessel arrival tonnage, and maintained its position as the world’s top bunkering port.
“Singapore continued to be an attractive and vibrant marketplace for shipowners, cargo traders and maritime service providers,” he said.
To bolster the industry, “we are investing in infrastructure and sharpening our maritime policies.” The city will open the first berths at Pasir Panjang Terminal Phase 3 later this year. It has also begun preparatory work for a consolidated container terminal at Tuas.
“Last year, we also streamlined our port dues structure and enhanced the Maritime Singapore Green Initiative,” Lui said.
The enhancements included increase in port dues rebate for ocean-going vessels that use clean fuels throughout their port stay, a new port dues rebate for ocean-going vessels that use clean fuels at berth, and an increase in grant limit from SGD2 million to SGD3 million for R&D projects that can achieve more than 10 percent reduction in ship emission levels.
Lui called for strengthening the tripartite partnership between the government, the industry, and the unions to give the maritime sector a competitive advantage and enable it “to weather the rough seas that we will inevitably encounter.”