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Trade growth and drive for efficiency tops agenda at Sea Asia

Leaders at today’s opening of Sea Asia 2015 have highlighted the need for shipping companies to drive greater operational efficiencies in order to capture trade growth opportunities and survive the short-term challenges of today’s environment.
Taking place in Singapore until Thursday 23 April, Sea Asia brings together leaders of the maritime and offshore industries to discuss, debate and analyse challenges and opportunities facing the sector.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, Minister for Transport and
Second Minister for Defence Mr Lui Tuck Yew said Asia is fast becoming the engine of global growth and that the maritime industry needs to be prepared.
“All signs suggest that Asia will drive global shipping in the coming years. Shipping patterns have shifted and will continue to move towards Asia. In 2014, Asia accounted for almost 80 per cent of global container throughput.

”Experts on the panel of the Sea Asia Global Forum agreed with Mr Lui and commented that growing economies present exciting opportunities for shipping and the broader maritime sector, particularly in Asia.
However, they added that with a number of challenges on the horizon, companies must operate as efficiently as they can to survive.

Managing Director Pacific International Lines Mr S.S Teo said: “The shipping industry is facing some short term pressure which means one has to be as efficient as they can.
“It’s not just about the size, it’s also about how you well you run your services with most efficient ships using technology and IT,” he said.

Precious Shipping Ltd Managing Director Mr Khalid Hashim agreed, saying: “It’s a question of survival over the next few years and to do this companies need to take action now to drive down costs and improve efficiencies.
“They need to scrap, get rid of any non-core assets and raise finance to survive the current challenges that the industry is facing.
Overcapacity is one of the short-term challenges which is being compounded by softening demand in key markets, said Mr Hashim.
“China’s steel production was flat last year while demand for coal dropped 40 per cent. These trends are bad news for the dry bulk shipping market which transports these key commodities.”
The Sea Asia Global Forum panellists commented that while the industry is facing challenges, they are optimistic for the future.

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