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Speech by Senior Minister of State Dr Lam Pin Min at IATA 13th World Cargo Symposium

12 Mar 2019 Speeches

Mr Alexandre de Juniac, DG & CEO of IATA,

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good Morning

1.     I am delighted to join you for the 13th edition of the World Cargo Symposium. I would like to thank IATA for inviting me to speak today. This is a platform that brings together key stakeholders from the air cargo supply chain from all around the world to discuss issues and share ideas to bring the industry forward. To all our international delegates, a warm welcome to Singapore.

Air cargo is an enabler for world trade and an important contributor to modern life

2. There have been significant developments in the global air cargo market. These include the shifts in global supply chains as industries seek higher efficiency, and more recently, increasing trade protectionism in some parts of the world. But one thing remains - air cargo is an important part of the global supply chain and a key enabler of the world trade.

3.     The global air cargo community recorded a total volume of over 63 million tonnes of goods in 2018. Although this makes up only 1% of the total volume of goods moved, the value of goods moved by air represents more than 35% of world trade.

4.     Air cargo also contributes immensely to our way of life. Take for example, smartphones. Smartphone parts are sourced from different countries, flown to a factory to be assembled, and finally, the assembled smartphones are flown to various parts of the world to end consumers like you and I.

5.     In Singapore, businesses and Singaporeans benefit from the good air cargo connectivity of Changi Airport. Businesses enjoy quick access to raw materials from around the world, and their products can reach end markets overseas efficiently. Singaporeans also enjoy convenient access to products and goods from around the world. So I thank everyone here for helping to keep the world economy ticking and contributing to the quality of life we enjoy.

Air connectivity supports new and further growth of air cargo trade

6.     The outlook of the air cargo industry remains optimistic, especially in Asia Pacific. This can be attributed to two key trends. First, we see emerging growth opportunities in South East Asia. With dynamic and growing populations, countries like Thailand and Vietnam are emerging as strong manufacturing hubs. This will fuel more air cargo movements in the region.

7.     Second, the rising affluence and consumption of Asia’s rapidly growing middle-class and the increased business activities in Asia will drive demand for goods. Fast-growing verticals like eCommerce, pharmaceuticals and perishables will continue to grow strongly as a result of the expanding middle-class. These cargo verticals require strong air cargo hubs with efficient and quality cargo handling.

8.     Take eCommerce as an example. Affluent and savvy consumers increasingly expect online orders to be delivered as soon as they click ‘Check Out’. Businesses therefore require strong air connectivity to reach end consumers quickly. To this end, Singapore’s strong air connectivity within South East Asia and to the rest of the world puts us in a good position to support the growth of e-commerce in the region. We are also working closely with fellow ASEAN countries, as well as with ASEAN Dialogue Partners like China, Japan and the EU, to enhance the breadth and depth of air connectivity. This will allow airlines to fly more freely within the region and around the world, and improve the speed and efficiency of air cargo delivery.

9.     For pharmaceuticals, the quality of cargo handling is key, as pharmaceuticals shipments require strict handling standards to be upheld across the supply chain. I am heartened that IATA is driving the Centre of Excellence for Independent Validators in Pharmaceutical, or CEIV Pharma in short. The Singapore air cargo community has embraced CEIV Pharma certification, and will continue to enhance our pharmaceutical handling capabilities. For example, Changi Airport is partnering Brussels Airport and Singapore Airlines under the Pharma.Aero Alliance, to build an end-to-end data monitoring to provide greater shipment visibility.

Partnering industry to innovate and transform the air cargo sector

10.    In the long term, Singapore will continue to innovate and transform Changi Airport to meet the evolving demands of the air cargo sector. The Changi Airport Group (CAG) is currently planning for the future Changi East Industrial Zone (CEIZ), as part of Changi East expansion. When fully completed, our cargo handling capacity will almost double.

11.    CEIZ is a greenfield site that presents new opportunities to transform our cargo processes, infrastructure and facilities. The future Air Freight Terminals will be highly automated and data-driven. To realise this vision, the air cargo community is working closely with CAG and the Government, to re-design our air cargo operations, improve productivity and raise the efficiency of the sector.

12.    To support the industry to innovate and raise productivity, the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore launched Aviation Challenge 2 in end-2014 to testbed ideas to automate the build-up and breakdown of cargo pallets, which is a manual and physically-demanding job. The Challenge spurred many new ideas from the industry and academia. For example, using 3D scanning technology to capture the dimensions, labels and packaging of cargo shipments upon lodge in, and then analysing the data to optimise the use of pallet space. Further work is ongoing to develop robotic prototypes that can automatically pick and stack cargo shipments. I am confident that we would see some of these prototypes deployed in a live environment eventually.


13.    In closing, Singapore is committed to growing the air cargo industry. We will strive to enhance our connectivity with the region and beyond, and support industry innovation by offering Singapore as a place to testbed new and innovative ideas. We look forward to working closely with IATA and all air transport stakeholders to continually enhance the air cargo ecosystem.

14.    On this note, I wish all of you a fruitful symposium and an enjoyable stay in Singapore. Thank you.