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Speech by Senior Minister of State Dr Lam Pin Min at the Singapore Shipping Association Lunar New Year Cocktail Reception 2019

22 Jan 2019 Speeches

Mr Esben Poulsson, President of the Singapore Shipping Association (SSA),
Mr Niam Chiang Meng, Chairman of the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA),
Excellencies,
Distinguished guests,

1.     Good evening. Pleased to be here at the SSA Lunar New Year Cocktail Reception. Let me start off by wishing everyone a very Happy Lunar New Year. 祝大家新年快乐,万事如意。

Looking Back at 2018

2.     Looking back, 2018 was another challenging year. But Maritime Singapore did well. Our container throughput grew 8.7% to 36.6 million TEUs, outperforming global throughput growth estimates. Our international maritime centre also welcomed new players such as the Ocean Network Express, whose global headquarters officially opened here in June last year.

3.     The implementation of the Sea Transport Industry Transformation Map, which sets out the growth path of our maritime sector, is also progressing well. I thank all of you for helping to drive the various initiatives to boost the competitiveness of Singapore’s maritime sector and sharpen our competitive edge.

Launch of the Singapore War Risks Insurance Conditions

4.     Over the years, SSA has launched many programmes to benefit not only its members but also the wider Maritime Singapore. For example, the Singapore War Risks Mutual (SWRM) was launched at this very event four years ago. This ground-breaking move enabled Singapore to have our own dedicated war risk facility, joining leading maritime nations such as Greece, Japan, Norway and the UK. Four years on, the SWRM has grown from a fledging mutual to one that has almost 800 ships on its books.

5.     Following on from the success of the SWRM, SSA did not rest on its laurels, but continued to build on the SWRM. Today, I am pleased to announce the launch of the Singapore War Risks Insurance Conditions (SWRIC). The SWRIC is a current and comprehensive set of war risk insurance conditions, presenting a Singapore-equivalent to the war insurance cover provided by internationally-used marine insurance plans such as the Nordic Plan and the UK’s Institute Time Clauses (ITC). As the first set of insurance conditions that are crafted from the shipowner’s perspective, the SWRIC aims to address the present-day gaps faced by shipowners. For instance, it offers shipowners more breadth and certainty in terms of coverage. Its conditions are also simplified to be more user- and reader-friendly.

6.     As a novel and improved product offering to the international maritime community, the SWRIC contributes to Singapore’s standing as a thought leader in the field of marine insurance. It also adds to the comprehensive range of products that our marine insurance sector provides. I am confident that the SWRIC will be well received by the industry.

Digitalising the Maritime Sector

7.     In the same spirit of constant innovation and improvement, another important initiative I am happy to hear about is the ongoing efforts to digitalise the maritime sector. Last year, SSA, MPA and Singapore Customs signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to digitalise trade and maritime documentation, for example, through the development of electronic bills of lading (e-BL). Since then, two successful e-BL blockchain trials have been carried out – one by a consortium led by APL; the other by PIL and IBM. These are significant milestones in the development of digital solutions for the sector.

8.     In my conversations with the industry, one piece of feedback I often receive is that, we must find a way for all these different digital solutions and ecosystems to work together. Only then can we achieve seamless digitalisation of trade documentation across the board. I fully agree. This is why later this evening, SSA, MPA, Singapore Customs and a new partner, IMDA, will be signing an MOU to develop an inter-operability framework for electronic trade documents. This new governance framework will guide the development of legal and technical standards, as well as inter-operable digital infrastructure, that can be applied internationally. Through the development of universal standards and infrastructure, the framework will enable the seamless exchange of electronic trade documents within and across different digital ecosystems.

9.     This private-public partnership is an ambitious but necessary endeavour, that will bring the industry one step closer towards digitalisation and fully harnessing what technology can offer.

Conclusion

10.    Once again, I thank all of you for your support for Maritime Singapore. With your help, we have flown the Singapore flag high. The close partnership between the Government, the industry and SSA, and the unions is a unique competitive advantage for Singapore. We must continue to strengthen this partnership. This will enable Maritime Singapore to stay relevant, and well ahead of competition.

11.    Thank you, and I wish you a happy and prosperous Lunar New Year in advance.