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2 019 was a challenging year for Singapore. Global economic activity was weak, with global growth at about
3 percent. While overall freight rates improved in 2019, global container throughput growth had generally slowed. The US-China trade war was a major source of uncertainty, dragging down sentiments across markets.
Singapore’s economy grew by 0.7 percent year on year in 2019, based on flash estimates released by the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) on 2 January 2020. This was better than the 0.6 percent growth forecast by analysts polled by Bloomberg, although it was far below
the 3.1 percent expansion in 2018, making it the slowest economic growth since 2009.
The maritime industry also faced uncertainty in 2019. The dominant theme for the world’s leading bunkering (ship refueling) port was meeting the IMO 2020 low sulphur regulation. For most parts of last year, shipping companies were on a race against time to ensure that they had either fitted exhaust cleaning scrubber systems that limit sulphur emissions, or had in their fleet compliant fuel-enabled vessels, while Singapore made sure that it would be ready to supply compliant fuels to ships calling at
the port and provide advice to ships to meet the IMO 2020 0.5 percent global sulphur cap regulation that was due to come into force on 1 January 2020.
Despite challenging conditions and uncertain times, Maritime Singapore provided much needed certainty and stability. Singapore’s container throughput grew to 37.2 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) in 2019 from 36.6 million TEUs in 2018, an increase of 1.6 percent. Singapore port handled less cargo in 2019 at 626.5 million tonnes while vessel arrival tonnage increased by 2.2 percent to 2.85 billion gross tonnes.

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