Singapore Strengthens Maritime Services Cluster and Gears up for Digital and Green Future

The Maritime Services Leaders Forum (MSLF) hosted its third edition on April 18, 2024, coinciding with Singapore Maritime Week (SMW). Over 200 global industry experts convened in Singapore for the MSLF, which was organised by the Marine and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA), to deliberate on the role of marine services in propelling the digital and green transformation.

“As the maritime sector transforms, the maritime services cluster will need to evolve its understanding of what is needed to support the sector,” stated Mr. Teo Eng Dih, Chief Executive of MPA, in his opening speech at the MSLF. This involves analysing how new laws and regulations, such as those pertaining to the usage of alternative fuels, may affect the legal requirements and terms in contracts and shipping forms. Additionally, according to Mr. Teo, the SCMA will establish a number of working groups to examine the effects of these problems on the maritime industry.

A Distinguished Speaker Series (DSS) was also organized by the Singapore Chamber of Maritime Arbitration (SCMA) on April 17 as a SMW co-located event, to discuss the business and legal opportunities from the commercial use of alternative fuels. Mr Sergio Mujica, Secretary-General of the International Organization for Standardization, was the keynote speaker at the SCMA DSS 2024, and shared how Singapore, as a leading maritime and bunkering hub, has also been developing national standards in this domain, which could contribute to ISO standards in the future.

Singapore Grows as an International Maritime Services Cluster

With more than 180 multinational shipping groups headquartered there, Singapore is rapidly becoming a centre for worldwide maritime trade. More than twenty financial institutions with shipping portfolios, over thirty prominent international shipbroking businesses, and almost thirty legal firms with a marine focus support these shipping organisations. Singapore is home to ten of the twelve P&I clubs in the International Group. In an effort to better serve their local and international clientele, renowned shipbroking companies like SSY, Fearnleys, and Braemar have also extended into Singapore’s financial advice market.

Facilitated by strong support from the government and judiciary, the rule of law, and established frameworks for effective cross-border recognition and enforcement of arbitral awards and mediated settlement agreements, Singapore continues to grow as an international legal hub that offers a comprehensive suite of dispute resolution services, including arbitration. Together with the Singapore International Commercial Court (SICC), SCMA introduced the SICC Jurisdiction Model Clause in November 2023, where parties can designate the SICC as the supervisory court to hear applications relating to the Singapore International Arbitration Act 1994 (IAA). Parties bringing IAA proceedings before the SICC may avail themselves of the SICC’s highly specialized bench, which includes leading jurists from foreign jurisdictions, several of whom have been admitted to the SCMA Panel of Arbitrators, representation by registered foreign lawyers, and third-party funding. With the SICC Jurisdiction Model Clause, a harmonized suite of services is now offered to users of the SCMA arbitration rules that are specially tailored for the shipping and international trade sectors.

In January 2024, SCMA was appointed as the main sponsor and secretariat for the prestigious International Maritime Law Arbitration Moot (IMLAM), assisting the IMLAM organizing committee with the organization of the leading moot in its field. Venues for the competition rotate between the Asia-Pacific and Europe every year. IMLAM enables law students to gain quality experiences in maritime law and arbitration and supports talent development for maritime legal services.

SCMA was also appointed as the host partner for organizing the International Congress of Maritime Arbitrators (ICMA) XXIII, which will take place in Singapore from March 22 to 27, 2026. ICMA is a global flagship event for maritime and commercial arbitrators, legal experts and the shipping community.

Singapore will be hosting the International Union of Marine Insurance’s (IUMI) annual conference from September 15–18, 2025, a global platform for marine insurers to discuss key issues for the sector. The IUMI annual conference brings together key decision-makers from the international marine insurance and reinsurance markets.

MPA and Enterprise Singapore (Enterprises), through the Singapore Standards Council (SSC), are developing national standards on methanol and ammonia bunkering. The standards aim to ensure the safe operations and handling of these fuels and will support the maritime industry’s transition to sustainable alternative fuels. They span areas including custody transfer requirements, operational and safety requirements for the delivery of methanol and ammonia from a bunker tanker to receiving vessels, as well as crew training and competencies. The standards will accelerate the maritime industry’s green transition, and drive innovation and investments into new green fuel-related maritime services such as legal contracting, financing and risk management.

In the latest Leading Maritime Cities of the World report by DNV and Menon Economics, Singapore continues to be the leading maritime hub securing the top position for the sixth consecutive time. This achievement underscores the commitment of Singapore as a maritime services cluster and its strong partnership with industry.

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