Singapore, 14 November 2014 – Maritime leaders have today said good progress is being made in the creation of a single ASEAN shipping market – a key pillar in the establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) – but said there is still more to do to realise this goal.

The announcement follows the closing of the 25th ASEAN Summit in Myanmar yesterday where leaders from across ASEAN discussed progress to date and steps the region needs to take to accomplish the remaining objectives in the AEC Blueprint ahead of the 2015 deadline.

Mr S.S Teo, Managing Director, Pacific International Lines and speaker at Sea Asia 2015, said the AEC will open up significant opportunities for the region’s maritime industry.

ASEAN is the new growth frontier – it is a region of 600 million people with a fast-emerging middle class, young populations and an expected GDP growth rate of around five per cent for the next five years. The AEC will remove trade barriers, encouraging further regional growth.

Mr. S.S. Teo, Managing Director, Pacific International Lines

“This will lead to greater intra-and-extra regional cargo movements which create opportunities for the broader maritime industry. It’s clear that a lot has been achieved but we need to work together to take the final steps in realising the goal of a single ASEAN market,” he said.

The maritime industry across the region is currently undertaking a number of activities to ensure it is ready to capture the benefits the AEC will present.

The Philippines, for example, is pursuing several major port projects. These include deploying more technology-driven processes to improve the delivery of the country’s port services and reforming the model of cargo-handling tariffs1. At the same time, countries like Malaysia and Brunei are holding discussions on increased maritime cooperation2.

“Activities and discussions such as these will ensure the region’s facilities, processes and services will be ready to take advantage of the immense opportunities that the AEC will offer,” said Mr Teo.

Industry experts agreed that while significant progress is being made, there are still some challenges to navigate.

Andreas Sohmen-Pao, Chief Executive Officer BW Group and speaker at Sea Asia 2015 said the rise in local content is one example.

“Domestic economic policy in a number of markets is calling for high levels of local content. Under these policies, companies are required to build a proportion of their assets locally, employ local crew and, in some cases, align with local partners in order to trade within that country.

These policies stand in the way of the creation of a single ASEAN market. They not only create additional costs for the industry and local economies, but also affect the efficiency of the regional maritime industry.

Mr. Andreas Sohmen-Pao, Chief Executive Officer, BW Group

He agreed a co-operative approach was critical in realising the AEC by 2015.

“The industry needs to come together with public and private sector partners to navigate this challenge. Participation in global forums such as Sea Asia is an essential part of this – they allow all players to come together and discuss ways to drive the industry forward,” he said.

Seatrade Chairman Chris Hayman said trade agreements such as the AEC and other changes in global trade have a significant impact on the maritime industry.

Asia’s dominance in the world trade agenda has driven exponential growth in the region’s maritime industry and it’s likely that this trend will continue – particularly with the region’s many trade liberalisation agreements currently under negotiation.

Mr. Chris Hayman, Seatrade Chairman

“Changing global trade patterns – whether it be agreements such as the AEC or the emergence of new regions such as Africa as generators of cargo – will continue to shape our industry.”

Mr Hayman said that developments in global and regional trade will be a key theme at Sea Asia 2015.

“Sea Asia is a leading forum for debate and discussion on the key trends facing the industry and these critical opportunities are high on the agenda at next year’s event,” Mr Hayman said.

  • About Sea Asia

    Sea Asia, an international conference and exhibition for the maritime and offshore industries, is returning for the 5th edition from 21 to 23 April 2015 at the Marina Bay Sands®, Singapore. Sea Asia serves as a focal point for both the global and local maritime communities to network, explore new businesses, and showcase the latest maritime innovations, equipment and services. Co-organised by Seatrade and the Singapore Maritime Foundation, Sea Asia is an anchor event held in conjunction with the Singapore Maritime Week and is well-attended by the most influential and respected leaders in the industry. The 3-day Sea Asia conference will bring forth the latest discussion and debates on key trends, opportunities and challenges facing the maritime industry.

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  • About Singapore Maritime Foundation

    The Singapore Maritime Foundation (SMF) was established on 27 January 2004 to facilitate dialogue and cooperation among maritime stakeholders from the public and private sectors. As the bridge between the public and private sectors, SMF aims to provide the industry with a clear and representative voice, and spearhead projects to boost its development.

    SMF also organises and participates in a host of maritime events to strengthen the Maritime Singapore brand. To date, SMF has significantly benefitted from strong support from all sectors of the industry which has enabled the organisation to reach out directly to the community for new areas of work to improve the current maritime ecosystem.

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