Singapore retains top spot as international shipping centre for 8th consecutive year

SINGAPORE – Singapore kept its position as the world’s top shipping hub on the 2021 Xinhua-Baltic International Shipping Centre Development (ISCD) Index for the eight consecutive year.

The Republic was followed by London, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Dubai.

The top five rankings were unchanged from the previous year, despite the pandemic-induced drop in global trade and business disruption in 2020, the Baltic Exchange, a global maritime market data provider, said in a statement on Sunday (July 11).

The ISCD Index, part of the annual Xinhua-Baltic Report, is published by the exchange in collaboration with Chinese state news agency Xinhua.

The index provides an independent ranking of the performance of the world’s largest cities that offer port and shipping business services.

Singapore has consistently led the index, thanks to the size of its port, number of internationally-focused shipbrokers, financiers, lawyers and insurers based here, and supportive government policies, according to the Xinhua-Baltic Report 2021 released on Sunday.

Baltic Exchange chief executive Mark Jackson said 2021 rankings were made on the back of the global pandemic and major disruptions to lives and businesses around the world.

“Notwithstanding these challenges, the huge infrastructure of people and equipment that supports the global seaborne movement of billions of tonnes of trade held strong,” he said.

The exchange commended the maritime centres covered in the rankings for their role in facilitating trade flows in a difficult year.

The Baltic Exchange, which is headquartered in London, was acquired by Singapore Exchange in November 2016.

Maritime and Port Authority (MPA) of Singapore chief executive Quah Ley Hoon said that Singapore’s status in the global maritime industry is due to the combined efforts of an ecosystem of many strong partners.

“The strong support from our port operators, industry partners, associations and unions has enabled Maritime Singapore to serve the needs of the sector and play its part to keep the global supply chain running amidst the Covid-19 pandemic,” she said.

Ms Quah said MPA will continue to work closely with its partners to provide a comprehensive suite of marine services, as well as a supportive business environment for shipping and maritime services.

“This includes supporting the industry on its immediate challenges facing sea crew, and its transformation along digitalisation, decarbonisation and capability development.”

The Xinhua-Baltic Report 2021 showed Asian ports occupying three of the top five spots. Rounding up the top 10 cities were Rotterdam, Hamburg, Athens, New York and Ningbo in China, which replaced Tokyo for the 10th position.

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Mr Xu Yuchang of China Economic Information Service, a subsidiary of Xinhua, said that due to the pandemic, the international shipping industry has been undergoing significant changes since 2020.

“Facing such a big challenge, all practitioners in the international shipping industry have done incredible jobs to maintain the global logistics stable and reliable and ensure epidemic prevention supplies,” he said.

Baltic Exchange Asia head Su Ling Lu noted that Singapore continues to develop its maritime industry with a focus on technological advances in future shipping fuels, innovation safety improvements, nurturing young talent and workforce transformation.

“The Singapore government provides forward-looking planning and guidance in many aspects, including the integration of the shipping industry chain, harbour industry development, intelligent and green port technology, which is instrumental in promoting Singapore’s development as an international shipping centre,” she said at a virtual briefing.

She said Singapore’s score of 97.2 was far ahead of the average score of 58.8 points among the 43 ports rated in the index.

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Despite the pandemic, Singapore port handled its second highest container throughput at 36.9 million TEUs (Twenty-foot Equivalent Units), according to MPA data.

Last year, 17 international shipping groups either set up or expanded their operations in Singapore, MPA had also reported earlier this year.

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