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Maritime sector roadmap to create S$4.5b in value add, over 5,000 new jobs

A NEW plan has been mapped out to set the course for Singapore's maritime industry over the next decade.

The Sea Transport Industry Transformation Map (ITM), unveiled on Friday, aims to grow the industry's real value-add by S$4.5 billion and create over 5,000 good jobs by 2025.

It will build on existing strategies to develop the Singapore port and strengthen its international maritime centre - with the vision for Singapore to become a global maritime hub for connectivity, innovation and talent, Senior Minister of State for Transport Lam Pin Min, said.

"While 2017 was a better year than the last, the road ahead remains challenging. Indeed, we have to continue to paddle hard to stay ahead," said Dr Lam, who launched the ITM at the annual Singapore Maritime Foundation New Year cocktail reception.

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"We not only have to continue to deliver world-class port services, we must also capture new growth opportunities and strengthen our value proposition to the world. This means we must fundamentally relook the way we operate our businesses as well as the kind of capabilities our maritime workforce needs."

The Sea Transport ITM, which covers the maritime sector from port to shipping services, excluding marine and offshore engineering, is spearheaded by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) in partnership with the industry, unions and other government agencies.

One key strategy of the ITM is to build up a well-connected and vibrant international maritime centre cluster, said Dr Lam, who is also Senior Minister of State for Health.

To enhance Singapore's status as a key economic node of the global trading system, the government will continue to boost the port's physical connectivity by actively anchoring and attracting shipping lines here - like it did with CMA CGM last year, he said. Container throughput rose 8.9 per cent to 33.7 million twenty-foot equivalent units last year, due to the "pick-up in the global economy and PSA's efforts to anchor major shipping alliances here", he noted.

More initiatives will also be rolled out to develop Singapore's maritime financing landscape, such as the inaugural Maritime Capital Forum last year.

Another key thrust of the ITM is to drive growth through productivity improvements and innovation, particularly with the use of automation and digitalisation.

Dr Lam said that the government will continue to help firms leverage new technologies and automation to improve operational efficiency, such as through the Maritime Cluster Fund.

To drive digitalisation and boost overall productivity, the MPA is developing technology platforms such as the Maritime Single Window, which will be integrated with the National Trade Platform to facilitate the sharing of vessel and cargo-related information with the wider trading community, Dr Lam said. The MPA is also looking at digitalising trade and maritime documentation, such as the use of electronic bills of lading, which will facilitate more efficient trade flows.

A vibrant innovation ecosystem is important as Singapore sets its sights on becoming a world leader in this space, said Dr Lam. To this end, the MPA Living Lab will serve as "a demand-aggregator and test-bed" for solutions in areas such as autonomous systems and smart infrastructure.

The MPA will promote the growth of maritime technology enterprises through initiatives such as the Smart Port Challenge.

To deepen research and development capabilities here, the Singapore Maritime Institute will invest S$12 million to set up the Centre of Excellence in Modelling and Simulation for Next Generation Ports, said Dr Lam. This centre of excellence will tap the National University of Singapore's port modelling, simulation and optimisation capabilities to enhance the Singapore port's ability to handle increasingly complex operations.

Key to supporting the transformation of the industry is a maritime workforce that is equipped with the relevant future skills - which is why the government will do more to bring well-trained personnel into the industry, said Dr Lam.

Most of the 5,000 new jobs to be created will be professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMET) roles, he added.

The maritime industry, including the marine and offshore engineering sector, employed more than 170,000 people and contributed 7 per cent to Singapore's economy last year.

The Sea Transport ITM is the first of eight such industry-specific roadmaps to be launched this year. A total of 15 ITMs have already been set in motion as part of a S$4.5 billion industry transformation package announced in Budget 2016.

At the event, the new SMF board for 2018/2019 was also unveiled. BW Group chairman Andreas Sohmen-Pao remained at the helm, while seven directors were re-appointed.

Three industry leaders joined the board as new members: Abu Bakar Mohd Nor, managing director for gas & specialised vessels at Keppel Offshore & Marine; Prem K Gurbani, founding partner at Gurbani & Co; as well as Punit Oza, vice-president and head of Supramax Pacific at Klaveness Asia.

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