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Singapore retains top global shipping hub for 7th year running

SINGAPORE has topped the 2020 Xinhua-Baltic International Shipping Centre Development (ISCD) Index for the seventh year running, based on factors such as port infrastructure, shipping services and general business environment.

Singapore's pole position over the years was attributed its advantages of geographical location, shipping industry ecosystem and supportive government policies. 

The ISCD index, now in its seventh edition, is a collaboration between Chinese state news agency Xinhua and international freight benchmark provider Baltic Exchange, which was acquired by the Singapore Exchange (SGX) in 2016.

On this year's index, London with its high-end shipping finance, insurance and legal services climbed back to the second place, overtaking Hong Kong, after the UK city had dropped to third place in 2018 and 2019.

Shanghai, the biggest port in terms of container throughput, saw a steady improvement in port facilities and shipping service levels, and rose a notch to clinch the third position for the first time.

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Hong Kong fell to fourth place mainly due to a decrease in cargo throughput and a drop in rankings relative to other centres in areas such as ship brokerage, insurance and legal services. Meanwhile, Dubai retained its fifth place, followed by Rotterdam and Hamburg in the sixth and seventh positions respectively.

Athens benefitted from an improving business environment, rising to the eighth position. New York-New Jersey slipped by one place, while Tokyo rose by one spot, returning to the ranks of the top 10.

Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore chief executive Quah Ley Hoon welcomed the good news amid the Covid-19 pandemic gloom.

"The real test will be how we bounce back in a world shaken by an unprecedented crisis. We will need a global and co-ordinated effort.

"In this regard, Singapore will continue to rally governments and the global shipping community to work together and emerge stronger," said Ms Quah.

Last year, Singapore's shipping throughput hit an all-time high despite weak global economic activity and challenges such as the trade war between the United States and China. A total of 37.2 million shipping containers, or 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs), were handled in the city-state last year, up by 1.6 per cent from 2018. Total cargo throughput fell slightly to 626.2 million tonnes, from 630.1 million tonnes in 2018.

According to Incisive Law LLC, Singapore continues to show its strength and operational capabilities in the provision of ship management and shipbroking services, being home to the third largest fleet in the world at the city level, while the second largest fleet is managed from the city.

In terms of maritime services, Singapore has also continued to attract top maritime players to use Singapore as a node to connect globally. The law firm cited Thenamaris Group's incorporation of its commercial ship management office in Singapore in 2018 as well as The World Shipping Council's setting up of its Asia office here.

The Republic, the lawyers said, continues to have a wide spectrum of companies in the marine insurance value chain, such as Lloyd's service companies, insurance brokers and International Group P&I Clubs, including Britannia P&I Club, which was granted a licence to underwrite business from its Singapore branch early last year.

The city-state also launched the Singapore War Risks Insurance Conditions early last year to enhance the existing Singapore War Risks Mutual cover for ships, including those not registered in Singapore.

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