Shipping, port council to ensure maritime industry stays competitive

Shipping, port council to ensure maritime industry stays competitive

Malaysia Transport minister says it will discuss sector’s challenges when it meets in two months

KUALA LUMPUR – The reactivated National Shipping and Port Council (NSPC) will ensure that the local maritime industry remains competitive, said Transport Minister Anthony Loke.

The council is set to meet in two months, and Loke said the main issues to be discussed are the direction of the maritime industry, addressing current issues, and examining related policies to include bank financing, as well as challenges related to the shipping industry ecosystem.

The NSPC was first established in 2018 during Loke’s previous spell as transport minister, with regular council meetings held every three to four months.

In Budget 2021, presented by then finance minister Datuk Seri Tengku Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz, RM3.7 billion had been allocated under the maritime and logistics development scheme, the sustainable development financing scheme, the tourism infrastructure scheme, and the public transport fund to develop the transport sector.

However, in Budget 2023, the maritime industry’s allocation was reduced to RM1 billion and placed under the maritime and logistics scheme.

“The application for the fund, which aims to modernise the country’s maritime sector, is under the authority of Bank Pembangunan Malaysia Bhd but there are issues related to the application procedure and fund distribution,” Loke said at a press conference after witnessing the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the Malaysian Bunkering Association (MBA) and the Malaysian Shipowners’ Association (MSA) here today.

Bunkering, which is the supply of fuel or petroleum products from ship to ship, is a strategic sub-sector of the maritime industry but has received little attention prior to this, said the minister.

He emphasised that the size of the bunkering market – with 4% in annual growth – will reach US$160 billion (RM710 billion) in 2030 compared to the world’s bunker fuel market estimated at US$110 billion in 2020.

“The growth potential of bunkering activities is quite large. It can contribute to the growth of the country’s economy, especially by catalysing the formation of a more dynamic and competitive maritime economic ecosystem chain in Malaysia,” he said.

Loke stressed that the MoU between MBA and MASA is a good starting point, in line with the government’s efforts to ensure that all obligations and conditions under the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships are perfectly implemented, including the use of double-hull double-bottom ships to improve bunkering industry competitiveness and environmental sustainability.

“For single-hull double-bottom tankers handed over before July 1996, they are allowed to carry oil and their operations can continue subject to certain conditions.

“The renewal of conditions will come into effect via a new Malaysia Shipping Notice to be issued by the Malaysian Maritime Department this month and it is expected to come into effect on June 1, 2023,” he said.

Loke also emphasised that the policies took into account the needs and wishes of industry players in Sarawak and Sabah, as well as islands using small vessels comprising mainly single-hull vessels or licensed boats.

– Bernama, May 5, 2023

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