Singapore’s 2019 shipping throughput peaked record high amidst global uncertainties


In spite of weak economic performance and challenges like the US-China trade tensions, Singapore’s shipping throughput managed to reach an all-time high in 2019.

Last year, 20-foot equivalent units, or a sum of 37.2 million shipping containers were handled, increasing from 1.6 per cent from 2018. As for total cargo throughput, it declined slightly from 630.1 million tonnes in 2018, to 626.2 million tonnes last year.

However, there was a rise in vessel arrival tonnage – a measure of the cargo-carrying capacity of ships – by 2.2 per cent to 2.85 billion gross tonnes. This is an increase from the 2.79 billion tonnes in 2018.

Senior Minister of State for Transport and Health Lam Pin Min announced these figures in his speech at the Singapore Maritime Foundation (SMF) New Year cocktail reception at the Four Seasons Hotel on Monday (13 Jan).

Dr Lam remarked that last year saw the global container throughput generally slowing down amidst the challenges in the world economy.

In light of the new requirement for the usage of low-sulphur fuel by shipping firms, uncertainties in 2019 was compounded by the fact that shipping companies were unsure over the quantity availability and quality of compliant fuels, Dr Lam added.

The new International Maritime Organisation (IMO) 2020 requirement introduced at the start of this year placed a limit of 0.5 per cent on fuel sulphur content.

According to Dr Lam, there was much speculation over the matter concerning price differential between cheaper high-sulphur fuel oil and compliant fuels.

“As part of our preparations for IMO 2020, we made clear very early on that we would be ready to supply compliant fuels to ships calling at our port…We laid down our regulations and, most critically, we provided advice to ships that had planned to call at the Port of Singapore come Jan 1, 2020,” Dr Lam further remarked.

In addition to this, Singapore is an attractive hub for top maritime players due to the pro-business environment as well as the transparency and consistency in policy, he noted.

Dr Lam also gave the example of the joint venture between three established German shipping companies, Nordic Hamburg, Bertling and Oskar Wehr, known as One Bulk. One Bulk, which provides commercial management for ocean-traversing bulk carriers have decided to make Singapore its joint-venture ground because “it was convinced by Singapore’s value proposition and track record in the shipping industry.”

The country also won several accolades in 2019, such as being ranked as the top maritime capital award as mentioned in Menon’s Leading Maritime Capitals of the World for four straight times. Not only that, at the Asia Freight Logistics and Supply Chain Awards 2019, Singapore also won the Best Seaport in Asia award for the 31st time while also being ranked first in the Xinhua-Baltic International Shipping Centre Development Index 2019 for six years straight.

What’s more, on Monday, the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) stated that BW Group chairman, Andreas Sohmen-Pao is set to continue as chairman of the Singapore Maritime Foundation (SMF) for two more years, starting 1 January 2020 to 31 December 2020.

Last year, the Public Service Transformation Star Partner Award was given to Sohmen-Pao for his contributions to Maritime Singapore, the MPA stated.

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