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Live From Sea Asia 2017
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Maritime industries need to gear up for digital transformation

Singapore’s port and maritime industries need to gear up to deal with digitalization and disruption of global transport supply chains - that was the message of Khaw Boon Wan, Coordinating Minister for Infrastructure and Minister of Transport at the official opening of Sea Asia 2017.

The role of hub ports such as Singapore, the world’s largest container transhipment hub, are set to change as digitalization takes a hold.

“The landscape is changing rapidly digitalization is disrupting and transforming the global transport supply chains,” Khaw said.

“The lines between e-commerce, shipping and supply chains are blurring, for example Amazon is looking at having its own shipping and logistics operations. Freight forwarders will also have noticed Maersk and CMA CGM partnerships with Alibaba to allow shippers to book space on containerships online.”

The downside to disruption is that there would be winners and losers, and Singapore would have to “gear up” to be on the right side of that dividing line.

Painting a picture of the new landscape Khaw said: “Nearer to home we are seeing the rise of multi-modal logistics infrastructure and the growth of other hubs in Asia fuelled by e-commerce. These trends have also sparked talk about the emergence of new trade routes and even a multi-hub network in the longer term where no single hub will enjoy superior connectivity.”

Exactly how these developments will pan out no-one knows but the Minister said Singapore had ensure it was ready for transformation.

“Superior connectivity will be measured in multi-modal terms and maybe as much digital as physical,” he stated.

While digital disruption has loomed large over many sectors such as taxis, hotels and retail, Singapore Maritime Foundation chairman Andreas Sohmen-Pao highlighted that goods and commodities will still require ocean shipping.

“I know there has recently been plenty of talk about the challenges facing the maritime industry buts lets remember this industry is a cornerstone of the modern global economy even as we advance into an era of modern technology the vehicles that provide our Uber rides, the steel that holds up our Air B&B houses, and the goods that arrive in our Amazon boxes have typically spent some of their life on a ship,” Sohmen-Pao said in his opening speech.

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