Singapore Shipping Association

A different take

Esben Poulsson, President of the Singapore Shipping Association (SSA), has a problem that many maritime players can only envy in today’s tough markets.

  • Text:Kongsberg Maritime Communication

    Photo:KONGSBERG MARITIME

  • Gunvor Hatling Midtbø
    Vice President, Communications

We’re in this together. The full picture of shipping encompasses the full industry, with all nations, owners and stakeholders abiding by uniform regulations and conducting business on ‘a level playing field.’ Everyone included, everyone playing their part.

“We are working hard to fill empty seats. Singapore has virtually full employment, so anyone graduating with a marine-related degree more or less walks out of the university and into a full-time job. I often tell young Singaporeans that they don’t really know how lucky they are,” he confesses. In fact domestic recruiting to maritime companies is one of the Singapore Maritime Authority (MPA’s) highest priorities. In a step up on recruiting efforts, Singapore’s Deputy Prime Minister launched the Skills Future program at the SSA’s 30-year anniversary celebration in September of this year. The program offers funding for trainee programs and further education, and the state will sponsor a year abroad for young executives to gain international experience, provided they return to Singapore. Recruiting is at the top of the SSA’s list as well, and they have their own contribution to the effort. The Young Executives Group (YEG) is a popular networking and social initiative and includes guest speakers, seminars and courses, with the ultimate aim of increasing participation of young executives in Association affairs. Stronger through collaboration Another priority for the SSA is building up the marine insurance and finance segment in Singapore. “Being such an important maritime hub, it would seem obvious that we would stand among the world leaders in these fields as well, but Oslo and New York are well ahead of Singapore here,” Poulsson states. Typically for Singapore, they are methodically, if not exactly patiently, building up their War Risk Pool, launched in February this year. “I was able to announce the 301st vessel joining the Singapore War Risks Mutual at our anniversary dinner,” Poulsson states with some satisfaction. “It has been a long process, but we are building one brick at a time.” Much as Singapore itself has been built: steadily, guided by a firm hand, and always with clear, strategic, and common goals. Perhaps a different way of working than their independentminded counterparts in Europe, but there are still many similarities to be found. “We have great relationships with the shipowners’ associations in Denmark and Norway, and many others as well.” As proof of their role as an ‘active team player’ on international issues, Poulsson has no faith in predictions of one or another maritime capital dominating the industry. “I see four or five leading capitals being closely interconnected,” he states, “learning from each other, filling different roles, and driving the industry forward in healthy cooperation.”

" I see four or five leading capitals being closely interconnected, learning from each other, filling different roles and driving the industry forward in healthy cooperation."

Esben Poulsson President, Singapore Shipping Association

LEVELLING THE PLAYING FIELD
Key goals that Poulsson and the SSA share with their global counterparts are the continued growth in free trade, and the need for uniform maritime regulations to support that growth. “From a Singaporean perspective it is essential that free trade be allowed to flourish. Open markets have been instrumental to Singapore’s success, and for that to continue, we are dependent on a level playing field,” he points out. As a truly international cross-trader, Singapore is among the most vulnerable to unilateral regulatory initiatives from major players like the US or Europe. “These initiatives are symptomatic of a lack of confidence in international bodies to regulate the industry,” he states. “We are working with global partners like the International Chamber of Shipping to achieve more effective development and implementation of international regulations, in order to reinstate the faith in multilateral governance.” Of other issues affecting global shipping, the refugee situation in the Middle East is equally shocking in Singapore, but not as immediate as in Europe. “We are deeply moved by the things we are seeing from the Mediterranean,” he relates, “but we are on the other side of the globe, so our business is not directly affected.” Political unrest is another relatively remote issue, though Singapore is observing developments in the South China Sea with some apprehension. Environmental issues will also bring on change in Singapore Shipping Association A different take The last word on...shipping Esben Poulsson, President of the Singapore Shipping Association (SSA), has a problem that many maritime players can only envy in today’s tough markets. the full picture magazine 01 · 2016 85 Esben Poulsson President, Singapore Shipping Association The full picture according to Singapore Shipping Association We’re in this together. The full picture of shipping encompasses the full industry, with all nations,the industry, Poulsson believes, and though Singapore might not take a leading role, he assures: “We are ready to play our part.”

Categories