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Upbeat on growth T

SMF pushes the maritime services sector

he Singapore Maritime Foundation (SMF) will continue to push the country’s maritime services sector in order to keep up with strong growth

already witnessed at the port and shipyard sectors. After heading SMF for slightly over a year,

chairman Michael Chia wants to see further development in the maritime services cluster which includes ship finance, brokering, chartering, ship management, and arbitration.“The maritime industry here in Singapore consists of shipping, yards and the ports, but we should not forget the maritime services sector.My focus is really on how to develop this sector,”Chia tells Seatrade. “Not enough emphasis and nurturing have

been given (to the sector) because they are generally smaller companies and they don't make the headlines,” he says. SMF will in April launch a Maritime Services

Guide that compiles the contact information for maritime companies in the ancillary services sector, in an attempt to give greater visibility to their services.The booklet contains more than 1,000 companies in over 25 categories such as bunkering, arbitration and law, insurance, ship finance and ship broking. But in order to rejuvenate and upkeep the

quality of the industry as a whole, the industry will need a constant influx of young talent entering the workforce,Chia points out.The MaritimeONE Scholarship programme, spearheaded by SMF and its partners (Maritime Port Authority of Singapore,Association of Singapore Marine Industries and Singapore Shipping Association), has to date given out 54 scholarships since 2007 valued at over S$1.6m. Thirty scholarships are available this year as the

SMF seeks to attract more young talents into the maritime industry.The private sector has come together in terms of providing funding for the scholarships, and offering possible jobs in their companies for the scholars. “I cannot deny that we need to overcome that

obstacle [of a lack of talent] in the shipping industry because Singapore's workforce, for one, is not increasing a lot,”Chia says. “There will be a struggle to attract talents and

we want good talents - we want to be the industry of choice.” Singapore's academic institutions offer a host of

maritime courses, from diplomas to degrees, where students trained in various fields can choose to work at the yards, in broking firms, or

on the ship financing or legal fronts. Chia highlights that the SMF-backed 2007

television Chinese dramaThe Peak, based against Singapore's dynamic offshore and marine industry, has helped raised awareness for the maritime industry and changed people's perception for the positive.On whether a similar drama may be produced,Chia does not rule out the possibility. “Sometimes you have to do it just to jog the memory of the people,” he says. A more recent achievement for SMF was the

launch of the Singapore Ship Sale Form (SSF) in January after two years of effort and spending S$115,000.“The important point we are stating is that the form places Singapore as the default place for arbitration,”Chia says. The SSF,which serves as an alternative form to

the Norwegian version, facilitates the sale and purchase of vessels and ship sale closing transactions. Meanwhile, the Singapore Chamber of

Maritime Arbitration (SCMA) has seen a surge in the number of cases since SMF took it under its wing in 2009. Between 2004 and May 2009, SCMA had arbitrated just five cases.After it was reconstituted since May 2009, the chamber has handled 21 cases to date. “Asian shipowners control more than 50% of

the world's fleet, and more maritime activities are moving from theWest to the East, in terms of ship management, ship owning, ship building, and oil and gas exploration,”Chia says.“So we should play a bigger role and Singapore is well-suited because we have a sound legal system and a good base of lawyers and arbitrators here to carry out this service.” As of January 2011, SCMA has 70 individual

and 31 corporate members,more than doubled prior to the relaunch of the centre.

Seatrade Singapore Report 2011 17

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