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Asian Shipowners' Forum sets up in Singapore

Asian Shipowners' Forum sets up in Singapore

Singapore: The announcement that Singapore has been chosen as the home for the permanent secretariat of the Asian Shipowners' Forum (ASF) has been hailed as a major step forward for the ship owning community in Asia.

Efthimios Mitropoulos ,Secretary General of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and Tony Mason, Secretary General of International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and International Shipping Federation (ISF), were among the first shipping industry leaders to applaud the decision made in Pusan, Korea, yesterday.

Members of the influential ASF, which include shipowners' associations from Australia, China, Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea and ASEAN today unanimously agreed to set up a permanent secretariat in Singapore.

Since its inauguration in 1992, Chairmanship of the ASF has rotated amongst its membership on an annual basis, without a permanent office or an appointed Secretary General. With today's landmark decision, the permanent secretariat will provide continuity and the channel for an Asian shipowners' voice on the many issues discussed within its 5 "S" Committees and with international shipping bodies.

In welcoming the decision, the Chairman of Federation of ASEAN Shipowners' Associations (FASA), Mr. Bhumindr Harinsuit, said: "I am delighted the ASF has come to this unanimous decision to set up a Permanent Secretariat. FASA nominated Singapore to be the location for this secretariat and I am glad that all ASF members support this move.

"This is something that FASA has been working towards for more than a decade so we are very happy about the decision which has been made today."

The decision was also warmly greeted by Raymond Lim, Singapore's Minister for Transport.

ASF members agreed that a permanent secretariat would assist Asian ship owners to co-ordinate their voices better and in greater unison on the world maritime stage and with the major shipping organizations such as IMO.

In a message to the ASF, Mr Mitropoulos IMO Secretary General, said: "We hope that, through this arrangement, the Asian owners will be able to engage in more consistent and regular dialogue with all the other players in the international maritime scene for the benefit of the entire global maritime community."

Mr. S. S. Teo, President of the Singapore Shipping Association, said today: "I am very pleased for the ASEAN region that such a prestigious body as ASF has selected Singapore for its home. I would also like to thank FASA for its support and I am happy that the ASF has today unanimously endorsed Singapore as the location for its new office.

"Asian shipowners today account for nearly half the world merchant fleet and the maritime industries across our region continue to grow at a tremendous pace. We have believed for a long time that the ASF needed a permanent office to reflect the growing influence of the shipping industry in our region."

The next step would be to appoint the first ASF Secretary General, and that person will be tasked to employ the relevant staff and set up the secretariat office in Singapore within the next six months.

Mr. Teo added: "This is only the first step and there is still a long way to go. We need the ASF members to work together to continue to support the permanent secretariat as it develops.

"The establishment of the permanent secretariat is not only beneficial to Asian shipping, but also to the global maritime community. If Asia can play a more proactive and constructive role in the international shipping scene, then this will help with the growth of the global shipping industry and world trade."  [30/05/07]

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