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Opening Speech by Senior Minister of State for Transport Chee Hong Tat at Second Reading of Multimodal Transport Bill

05 Jan 2021 In Parliament

1.     Mr Speaker, on behalf of the Minister for Transport, I beg to move, “That the Bill be now read a second time”. 
2.     The Multimodal Transport Bill 2020 will set up a new Act to give effect to the ASEAN Framework Agreement on Multimodal Transport. This provides for the standardisation of provisions relating to the international multimodal transport of goods to and from any ASEAN member country, under a multimodal transport contract. 
3.     A harmonised transport system will enhance regional connectivity in ASEAN and facilitate the free movement of goods, services and investment. 
4.     To support this goal, ASEAN member states have signed three framework agreements. 
a.     The ASEAN Framework Agreement on the Facilitation of Goods in Transit was signed in 1998, followed by the ASEAN Framework Agreement on Multimodal Transport in 2005. 
b.     The ASEAN Framework Agreement on the Facilitation of Inter-State Transport was signed in 2009. 
5.     ASEAN member states have been ratifying these agreements.  In 2019, Singapore completed the ratification of the ASEAN Framework Agreement on the Facilitation of Goods in Transit and the ASEAN Framework Agreement on the Facilitation of Inter-State Transport.
6.     We are now introducing the Multimodal Transport Bill, to facilitate Singapore ratifying the ASEAN Framework Agreement on Multimodal Transport later this year. 
a.     After all ASEAN member states have ratified the agreement, it will provide a single, unified framework for the multimodal transport of goods within ASEAN. 
b.     This will facilitate market access for Singapore logistics operators to operate in other ASEAN member states under a set of regionally aligned standards. 
Multimodal Transport Bill Provisions
7.     The Multimodal Transport Bill applies to the carriage of goods via more than one transport mode, whether through air, land or sea. These goods are carried by a multimodal transport operator registered with the Competent National Body established in the ASEAN member states, under a single multimodal transport contract where the origin or destination of the goods delivery is in an ASEAN member state. 
8.     The Bill covers four key areas, which are: 
a.     Registration with the Singapore Competent National Body;
b.     Issuance of Multimodal Transport Document;
c.     Liabilities of Multimodal Transport Operators; and
d.     Duties and Liabilities of Consignors. 
9.     I will go through each of these areas. 
Registration with the Singapore Competent National Body
10.    First, the Bill will put in place the legislative framework for Singapore to recognise the Competent National Body, established by each ASEAN member state to maintain a registry of multimodal transport operators, or MTOs for short. For Singapore, the Land Transport Authority will be the Competent National Body. 
11.    MTOs have the option to join the registry.  For these MTOs, LTA will issue them with registration certificates, after assessing that they have met requirements such as having insurance to cover any payment of claims, and maintaining a minimum level of assets. 
12.    Once issued, the registration certificate is valid for one year and can be renewed. The Competent National Body can also cancel the registration of MTOs if they have falsified material or contravened conditions of the certificate. 
Issuance of Multimodal Transport Document 
13.    The second area of the Bill relates to the Multimodal Transport Document. 
a.     It will serve as a common documentational framework to be issued by MTOs registered with a Competent National Body. MTOs will be able to issue this document to consignors, which are the parties engaging the MTOs for the conveyance of the goods. 
b.     This document will be recognised by all ASEAN member states to certify that the MTO has taken charge of the goods and will deliver them in accordance with the multimodal transport contract.   
Liabilities of Multimodal Transport Operators
14.    Third, the Bill establishes a legal framework on the liabilities of the MTOs. Today, when disputes occur, liability between operators and consignors will be determined based on their contract terms, common law or other legislation. 
a.     With the Bill, there will be minimum standards for the liability regime. 
b.     For example, MTOs will be liable for the loss of, damage to, or delay in the delivery of goods when the goods are in their charge, but they will not be liable if these are due to inherent defects or caused by parties handing over the goods.  
Duties and Liabilities of Consignors
15.    Fourth, the Bill also lays out the roles and responsibilities of the consignors. Consignors are required to accurately inform the operators of the details of the goods that they will be carrying, including if the goods to be transported are deemed dangerous in accordance to domestic laws or international conventions. If they fail to do so, they will be liable for any losses incurred related to such goods.  
16.    Mr Speaker, I beg to move.