Post COVID – The Role of Maritime Transport Trade

- Prisilla Nadar

Each year, ships transport over 11 billion tons of goods. It was reported that in 2019 the total value of the annual world shipping trade had reached more than 14 trillion US Dollars. The pandemic has triggered global health and economic crisis, which has upended the landscape for maritime transport and trade and significantly affected growth prospects. With many people been vaccinated and governments unlocking, the Maritime trade is bouncing back to normalcy.

To have a better understanding of this new normal, International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and the Asian Shipowners’ Association (ASA) jointly organized a webinar – The Role of Maritime Transport Trade in the Post –COVID recovery on 21st September. This webinar was part of their Leadership Insights series, which considered multilateral trade policy in the post-pandemic world within the context of the Asia Pacific region.

Mr Jagmeet Makkar, Chairman, Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers (HK Branch) gave a warm welcome to the panelists.

Delivering the opening remarks, Mr Yuichi Sonoda, Secretary General of the Asian Shipowners’ Association (ASA) said, “It is a privilege to have such a distinguished line up of panelists. In such time of uncertainty it is more important than ever to keep maritime trade flowing. There is a light at the end of the tunnel like rollout of vaccine, but many challenges still lies ahead. These challenges requires urgent leadership; policies to help long term sustainability.”

The panelists included Miss Quah Ley Hoon, CEO Maritime and Port Authority Singapore; Mr Guy Platten, ICS Secretary General; Miss Rebecca Fatima Sta Maria, Executive Director of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Secretariat; Mr Satvinder Singh, Deputy Secretary-General, ASEAN Economic Community; Ms Ng Bee Kim, Director General – Trade, Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI), Singapore; and Mr Jeremy Nixon, Global CEO, Ocean Network Express.

As the deliberations progressed, Mr Makkar informed that ICS established a study on global trade Protectionism in Maritime Economies Study, which outlines the protectionist trade policies being implemented by governments worldwide. It demonstrates that if countries cut restrictive maritime trade policies it could help boost GDP by as much as 3.4% for national economies. Explaining this study in detail, Mr Platten felt that this study provides tangible ways in which countries can boost economic growth in difficult times.

Panelist mentioned this session was the need of the hour as, “Policies and other activities are making it more difficult for economy to bounce back.” They further discussed about ways and means to boost countries’ economy post COVID with digitalization; and highlighted steps taken by them for welfare of the industry during pandemic. The high level panel suggested to keep policies ready for recovery as pandemic will soon receive the status of endemic.

Mr Makkar summed up the session and thanked the panelists for inputs and suggestions.

(Courtesy: Marex Media)

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