Against unexpected odds and headwinds that never seem to go away, the port of Singapore has continued apace in its performance.
And this was against weaker-than-expected global economic conditions and significant structural changes in the maritime industry.
Even the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development has held a candle for Singapore calling the second most connected country in the world for two years in a row, based on port connectivity, offering shipping companies seamless global trade connectivity. The World Economic Forum (WEF) Port Infrastructure Rankings put Singapore as having the second best port infrastructure – reflecting our commitment to continually invest in our port to maintain high service standards.
Singapore’s port has rightly been the envy of the world. The huge store of maritime businesses coupled with the fact that it is home to over 130 shipping groups, more than 5,000 maritime establishments and employing more than 170,000 people contributing some 7% to Singapore’s Gross Domestic Product makes it a local leviathan in all but name.
Andrew Tan, Chief Executive of MPA was effusive. He said, “2016 was an eventful year for the shipping industry with further changes in the mega-alliances, new mergers and acquisitions, continued excess capacity and depressed rates amidst slower global growth. Despite these challenges, Maritime Singapore sustained its position. 2017 will be another pivotal year. The maritime industry will not only have to navigate through new geopolitical uncertainties and changes in alliance structures, but also new international regulations that will come into effect this year.”
Annual vessel arrival tonnage rose by 6.3 per cent in 2016 compared to 2015, reaching 2.66 billion gross tonnes (GT). Container ships, bulk carriers and tankers were the top contributors, each accounting for around 30 per cent of total vessel arrival tonnage.
Even bunker sales remained in the spot where it has always been. Singapore remained the world’s top bunkering port in 2016. The total volume of bunkers sold in the Port of Singapore grew 7.7 per cent to 48.6 million tonnes, compared to 45.2 million tonnes in 2015.
In terms of container throughput Singapore achieved 30.9 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) in 2016, similar to 2015. Singapore port held its volumes steady despite the challenges – the current poor global economic conditions and lower trade volumes, the collapse of Hanjin Shipping and the uncertainty of shifting alliances.
The total cargo tonnage handled last year increased by 3.0 per cent over 2015 to reach 593.3 million tonnes.
In 2010, the port received a bolt when the Chinese port of Shanghai eclipsed it in container throughput only to see Singapore steal its thunder back.