New digital platforms to aid trade processes

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Maritime sector gets ready as digitisation disrupts industry

More steps are being taken to prepare Singapore's maritime industry for a future in which digitisation disrupts and transforms global transportation and supply chains, Coordinating Minister for Infrastructure Khaw Boon Wan said yesterday.

These efforts include two new digital platforms that will be rolled out to improve trade processes here.

Speaking at the opening of Sea Asia, a major industry conference, Mr Khaw noted that the lines between shipping, e-commerce and logistics are blurring.

"For example, Amazon will soon be launching its own shipping and logistics operations. What does this spell for shipping companies when e-retail giants have in-house shipping operations?

"Freight forwarders too would have noticed the Maersk and CMA CGM partnerships with Alibaba to allow shippers to book space on container ships online."

He said shifting shipping alliances, changing distribution methods and evolving global trade routes may mean it is more important to be part of an interconnected port network than to compete to be the biggest hub port.

"Rather than seeing each other as competitors, we may have to learn to collaborate more with one another," said Mr Khaw, who is also Transport Minister.

One of the two digital platforms under development is the next-generation National Trade Platform - an integrated and one-stop digital platform connecting shippers, shipping lines, the port, Government agencies and logistics players.

The other is the Maritime Single Window by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA), which will offer a single portal access to submit documents for port clearance.

"These initiatives... will enable Singapore to play a bigger role in new areas such as e-fulfilment and multi-modal connectivity," Mr Khaw said.

He added that the Government is also taking steps to help firms here develop capabilities to succeed.

The MPA's enhanced Maritime Cluster Fund, for example, now provides more co-funding for companies that want to use technology to optimise their processes or transform their business model.

TRADINGKhaw Boon WanTransport