Singapore: Around 1,800 people flocked to Resorts World on Sentosa Friday night for the annual dinner held by the Singapore Shipping Association (SSA). The event, one of the largest gatherings annually on any shipping calendar around the world, came at the end of another hectic week of conferences and events in the Lion Republic.
Addressing guests, SSA’s president Patrick Phoon said shipping was in “reasonably good shape” despite all the problems it faced.
From a long term point of view, Phoon warned he felt the global orderbook was still “alarmingly high”, while scrapping was slowing down.
“Personally, I think there is too much eco legislation coming out at the moment,” Phoon said.
On the domestic front, Phoon said Singapore as a shipping hub remained a “very competitive” place to do business.
Also speaking at the dinner was Josephine Teo, senior minister for finance and transport. Noting overcapacity and high fuel prices, Teo said the industry was suffering from “very squeezed margins”.
Teo stressed the government viewed developing maritime infrastructure and business as a priority. In the coming decades a new airport will come up in the east of the republic, while the port will be shifted to the west of the country, Teo outlined.
“We will build capacity ahead of time to ensure the maritime sector remains a very important part of our economic landscape,” Teo said.
Teo said Singapore still had a way to go before it could catch up with London. Singapore versus London as the world’s preeminent shipping centre was a hot topic at the inaugural London International Shipping Week earlier this month.
“Our efforts have drawn the attention of some veteran players,” she noted, before cautioning: “There is still a distance to go before we can say we are there are are firmly entrenched.” [30/09/13]