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Lee Kuan Yew speaks out on maritime issues

Lee Kuan Yew speaks out on maritime issues

Singapore: The Republic's senior statesman, Lee Kuan Yew, has warned that while the growth of the maritime sector will reflect global trends in world trade, potential problems loom.

Speaking at this inaugural Singapore Maritime Lecture, part of this week's Singapore Maritime Week, Minister Mentor Lee pointed to "strained US-China relations, protectionism in the West, and intensified concerns on maritime security and environmental protection where excessive preventive actions may hurt the global trading system".

Lee further told the 300-strong audience that there is the danger that unilateral measures on maritime and cargo security, such as the recent requirement that all US-bound containers be scanned in foreign ports by 2012, will slow down the flow of trade. "A balance must be struck between ensuring security and facilitating trade, if we are to preserve the efficiency of shipping and cargo operations and allow global trade to flourish," he said. He suggested responsibility should be shared and the burden not be on just the last port of call.

Lee also expects more Asian voices to "enrich deliberations at international forums to tackle issues that cannot be solved unilaterally or regionally". Asia will have to safeguard its maritime interests and ensure they are accommodated in "the ongoing Western-driven development of a global framework of rules and standards governing international shipping," he opined.

The lecture was part of an hour-long dialogue between senior maritime executives which touched on issues including the environment, China's ambitions and Singapore's commitment to growing its 'maritime ecosystem'. Underlying theme was the Republic's aspiration to have a world class port and comprehensive suite of shipping and maritime services at the heart of its economy.

The Singapore Maritime Lecture series was organized by the Maritime Port Authority. Its aim is to feature prominent personalities and position Singapore as a thought leader and hub for innovative ideas in the global maritime community.  [27/09/07]