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Strategically located at the crossroads Jakarta) as the centre of the Chinese junk trade
of east-west trade, Singapore is
inextricably linked with shipping and trade. As far back as the 14th century, it was already a regional entrepot, serving as a gateway to the region around south Johor and the Riau Archipelago. But its fortunes were to ebb and  ow over the next few centuries.
Sir Stamford Raf es brought about a sea change when he established a trading post in Singapore for the British East India Company in February 1819. By making it a free port, with custom duties imposed only on selected products such as tobacco, opium, alcohol and petroleum, he helped to alter the course of Singapore’s future.
With its natural deep waters, making it easily accessible to ships and junks from around the region and afar, and its comparative orderliness, Singapore became a focal centre for trade in the region. By the 1830s, it overtook Batavia (now
and supplanted Tanjung Pinang as the export gateway for gambier and pepper for the Riau– Lingga Archipelago.
The opening of the Suez Canal halfway across the world in 1869 reinforced the importance of the Straits of Malacca and Singapore. By slashing the journey between east and west by over 8,200 kilometres, reducing the journey from Europe to Southeast Asia by about a third, the canal contributed to a spike in international trade.
Successive generations of Singapore leaders have built on this. Through strategic vision and leadership, they have leveraged on Singapore’s plum position to build this island nation into a maritime port of distinction. Today, Singapore is a veritable hub for the maritime industry. Within this vibrant eco-system are over 500 companies in port, ship and offshore-related businesses, generating over 170,000 jobs and contributing some 7% to Singapore’s gross domestic product. Over 130,000 ships drop anchor in Singapore each year to handle cargo, take supplies and
bunkers, or dock for repairs, making it one of the busiest ports in the world, and helped to spawn a multitude of maritime services, including shipmanagement, shipowning, maritime law, arbitration, shipbroking and ship
Over the last 200 years Singapore has developed well beyond the dreams of its founding fathers, and shipping and trade are key to this success. At the launch of Singapore Bicentennial on 28 January 2019, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong noted, “Raf es made Singapore a free port. The new

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