New Initiatives Unveiled to Strengthen Singapore as a Global Maritime Hub

Singapore has announced two new initiatives intended to strengthen the region’s standing as a global maritime hub. 

Illustration. Image Courtesy: Pixabay under CC0 Creative Commons license

The initiatives are aimed at enhancing Singapore’s maritime insurance offering with the Singapore War Risks Insurance Conditions (SWRIC) and developing an interoperability framework for electronic trade documents for the maritime and trade industries.

They were presented by Lam Pin Min, Senior Minister of State for Transport and Health, at the Singapore Shipping Association’s (SSA) Annual Lunar New Year Cocktail Reception held on January 22, 2019.

As explained, the new SWRIC is an enhancement to the Singapore War Risks Mutual (SWRM), Singapore’s first national war risks insurance facility which was launched in 2015 as part of efforts to develop Singapore as a comprehensive marine insurance hub.

Available to members of SSA irrespective of the flag of the ship, and non-members whose ships are registered in Singapore, the cover under SWRM rules includes Protection and Indemnity (P&I) war risks, hull war risks, detention and diversion expenses, sue and labor and discretionary insurance. In a short span of four years since its launch, the SWRM cover has exceeded expectations with close to 800 ships insured.

SSA spearheaded a workgroup which prepared the SWRIC, a comprehensive set of insurance conditions which aims to raise the bar on existing war conditions in the marketplace today, by bridging coverage gaps as well as updating and simplifying the existing war conditions available in the market.

The SWRIC are also the first insurance conditions to be written from a shipowner’s perspective, addressing important risks that are felt by the global shipping community, according to the association.

Moreover, the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) is galvanizing the shipping community and other government agencies to develop inter-operability enablers to further digitalization efforts in the maritime sector and bring about benefits to the wider supply chain ecosystem.

This is a step-up to the three-party memorandum of understanding (MOU) that MPA, SSA and Singapore Customs signed at the Sea Transport Industry Transformation Map launched in January 2018 to jointly look into the digitalization of trade and maritime documentation, such as Bills of Lading (BL), in the industry.

Since the signing of the MOU in January 2018, the industry has seen progress with successful e-BL trials amongst consortiums led by two shipping lines – one by APL and the other by PIL and IBM. The trials simplify existing processes as well as leverage blockchain technology to bring various trading parties together to support information sharing and transparency, SSA said.

To facilitate interoperability of the solutions developed by the various consortiums, the members are to include a new MOU partner, Info-communications Media Development Authority (IMDA), to develop a new interoperability framework.

Working together with IMDA, the industry can expect to see different digital ecosystems interoperate with an efficient exchange of electronic trade documents. The work will entail the development of a set of governance and legal frameworks, technical standards and interoperable digital enablers.

“The close partnership between the Government, the industry and SSA is a unique competitive advantage for Singapore. We must continue to strengthen this partnership. This will enable Maritime Singapore to stay relevant and competitive,” SMS Lam commented.