Singapore remains top bunkering port in 2018

SINGAPORE (The Straits Times/ANN) -  The number of containers handled was up 8.7% to over 36 million TEUs.

Singapore retained its position as the world's leading bunkering port last year while also increasing the number of containers that passed through the docks.

A total of 36.6 million 20ft equivalent units (TEUs), as containers are known, were handled here last year, up 8.7 per cent on 2017, while total cargo throughput remained stable at 630 million tonnes.

And Singapore continues to be home to a diverse range of maritime businesses, with more than 5,000 enterprises here generating around 170,000 jobs in a sector that contributes 7 per cent of gross domestic product.

The numbers were announced by Dr Lam Pin Min, Senior Minister of State for Transport and Health, at the Singapore Maritime Foundation New Year cocktail reception at Shangri -La Hotel.

Dr Lam said that despite 2018 being a "year of uncertainty", with intensified global trade tensions and a fierce China-United States trade war, Singapore's maritime industry had not fared badly.

He noted that the port continued to attract top maritime players, citing Greek global ship management Thenamaris Group, which opened its commercial ship management office here last year.

Dr Lam also said maritime companies already in Singapore further entrenched their operations.

China Cosco expanded into the logistics business in a joint venture between Cosco Shipping Ports and PSA, which increased the number of berths at PSA from 3 to 5.

But Dr Lam warned that such achievements should not be taken for granted. "These developments did not happen by chance," he said.

"For maritime Singapore to continue to grow, we have to continue to stay competitive. That is why I launched the Sea Transport Industry Transformation Map (ITM) at this event a year ago."

The ITM laid out initiatives to "catalyse innovation, drive productivity improvements, as well as enhance the skills of the maritime workforce". Its aim is to grow the maritime sector's value-add by $4.5 billion and create more than 5,000 good jobs by 2025.

The ITM has been successful thus far, Dr Lam said, lauding the achievements of companies that contributed to its progress.

He thanked companies that worked to grow the breadth of Singapore's maritime service and to establish the country as a key financing node in Asia.

Dr Lam also thanked companies that made a strong effort to work with technology and to foster innovation, such as Pier71, which last year organised the second Smart Port Challenge, where start-ups came up with innovative ideas to tackle real-life problems identified by the industry.

He also expressed appreciation of businesses that invested in the maritime workforce, and organisations like the Maritime Singapore Connect Office for promoting greater awareness of maritime careers, connecting employers and job seekers.