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New digital shopfront for Singapore terminal, marine services to boost port efficiency

[SINGAPORE] The harnessing of technology is crucial for propelling the maritime sector forward, said Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat on Wednesday as he launched the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore's (MPA) new digital platform for providing one-stop clearance for vessel-related transactions.

The fate of the maritime industry would also be decided by the upholding of a rules-based multilateral trading system and addressing climate change, added Mr Heng.

"The maritime industry has put Singapore prominently on the global map and it remains critical to the Singapore economy. Hence, we take a great interest in the future of the maritime industry, and we want to contribute to the development of the maritime community," said Mr Heng at the Global Maritime Forum Annual Summit at the Flower Dome in the Gardens By The Bay.

The digital Portal for One-stop Regulatory Transactions, or digitalPORT @ SG, simplifies the current reporting process required by three public agencies - MPA, Immigration and Checkpoints Authority, and the National Environment Agency - for all ships arriving and departing here.

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"This (digitalPORT @ SG) will be rolled out progressively from December this year, and is estimated to save the industry 100,000 man-hours per year," said Mr Heng, who is also Minister for Finance.

A second phase over the next few years will see digitalPORT @ SG become a single platform for the booking of terminal and marine services, facilitating Just-in-Time operations for optimal vessel passage planning in port.

"We also hope to make digitalPORT @ SG interoperable beyond Singapore's shores, so that industry players can gain greater operational efficiency," said Mr Heng.

He said MPA has signed a memorandum of understanding with the China Maritime Safety Administration for the seamless exchange of ship credential for port regulatory functions, and is similarly collaborating with Denmark, Finland and Panama.

Climate change is another issue that needs to be addressed, according to Mr Heng, who said that Singapore fully supports the global maritime sector's sustainability efforts and believes it can do more.

He also emphasised the importance of reviewing and updating global rules of trade and undertaking "difficult structural reforms".

The maritime sector particularly benefits from global rules such as the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, and such a system must continue, said Mr Heng.

MPA chief executive Quah Ley Hoon said: "The unprecedented pace of change we face today would affect maritime trade flows, transform business models and impact our collective commitment to sustainability."

Ms Quah added that such demands present the global maritime community with opportunities to work together to address the issues.

Over 200 maritime industry experts and policymakers from 37 countries are attending the two-day Global Maritime Forum Annual Summit, which started on Wednesday.