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AS THE SUN SETS SLOWLY IN THE WEST…
Tuesday, 11 December 2012 16:27

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(Reproduced from Work Boat World magazine, December 2012)

Almost every month we see clear indications of our more forward thinking advertisers in Europe and North America – the West – shifting their focus to Asia.

Tragically, we have also seen too many of the less forward thinking Western companies trying to do what they have always done in endlessly shrinking home markets. The results of that kind of thinking are almost inevitably takeover, closure or, even worse, bankruptcy.

The world has changed and is continuing to do so. I well remember doing some research for a speech I made back in 2005. My theme was the changes that had occurred to the maritime world in the half century before 2005.

Some major points remain strongly in my memory. For example: in 1955 around 75 per cent of the world’s ships were built in western Europe; some 50 per cent were built on the Clyde. At the same time London was the world’s biggest and busiest port. Asia hardly mattered.

What a difference fifty years makes! Now, London is hardly a port at all. The Clyde is lucky to produce one ship every three years. Even then it is usually three years late and 300 per cent over budget!

Most importantly, the positions of the maritime industry in the West and the East have been reversed. Now at least 75 per cent of the world’s maritime business originates in Asia. Instead of the United Kingdom, United States, Sweden, France and Germany, the world’s biggest and most productive shipbuilding nations are Korea, China, Japan and the Philippines with Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam and India not too far behind.

The same is now starting to apply to shipping finance, insurance and legal work. Once dominated by London, New York, Hamburg and Rotterdam, those activities are steadily heading east to Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Tokyo.

Which brings me to Singapore the venue for our ASIAN WORK BOAT Exhibition and Conferences in February.

While Singapore has a richly deserved reputation for being something of a “mouse that roars”, that epithet certainly does not apply to its current situation in the maritime or aviation worlds. The Singapore government has always set very ambitious targets for itself, its people and its businesses. In those two industries it has achieved them admirably.

In the nearly forty years that I have been regularly and frequently visiting and doing business in Singapore I have seen unimaginable changes. For example, from seeing a roadstead dotted with dozens of blue sailed “Bugis schooners” carrying cargoes such as charcoal, we now see similar numbers of the world’s most advanced and powerful OSVs.

With its more strategic location, Singapore has looked at London, copied it and improved upon it. From a once “coolie” society, Singapore has transformed itself into a powerhouse of intellectual activity. Few Singaporeans nowadays get their hands dirty.

Like London before it, Singapore has taken a very global approach and especially in the maritime industry welcomes those with knowledge and capital to settle and base themselves there.

While far from perfect in terms of such attractions as scenery, beaches, climate, car ownership, and, importantly, political freedom, it more than makes up for those deficiencies. Commercial activities are facilitated and taxes minimised. Its location, air and telecommunication services are hard to beat.

Among its many other maritime attributes, Singapore has become, without doubt, one of the two or three busiest work boat centres on the planet. Not only do they congregate in Singapore, they are designed, built, equipped, serviced, financed and managed from there.

As well, Singapore is the centre of a major regional network of ship yards and work boat operations in Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Burma, Bangladesh and as far away as the Arabian Gulf and Australia.

That is why we have held ASIAN WORK BOAT there every two years since 1999 and why we are holding it there again next February at a new venue, the Marina Bay Sands Convention Center, right next to the globally acclaimed Marina Bay Sands hotel and casino.

As always, ASIAN WORK BOAT will present the latest in vessel design, materials, ship building, equipment and services from around the world. The Exhibition will be supported by at least five conferences. They will focus on:–
•    Training and Certification of Work Boat Crews.
•    Improving Ferry Safety and Economics in S.E. Asia
•    Singapore as an LNG Bunkering Hub for Work Boats.
•    Young Ship on OSV finance.
•    Nautical Institute on OSV and tug operations

With at least 3,000 of you likely to attend, I look forward to meeting and chatting with as many as possible of our readers at Marina Bay Sands from February 26-28, 2013.

NEIL BAIRD

For further information please contact:
Mark Balla
Baird Events
PH: +61 3 9824 6055
FX: +61 3 9824 6588
Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Web: www.bairdmaritime.com

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