Singapore is looking to enhance intermodal connectivity following a slight dip in container volumes last year.

Terminal operator PSA International reported 36.6m teu throughput at the port, down 0.9% year on year, but in comparison, the group’s international volumes rose 3.7%, to 50m teu.

Tan Chong Meng, PSA group CEO, said: “2021 continues to give us the opportunity to reset and reform, as a business and as individuals. The way companies and consumers engage, transact and collaborate has evolved at lightning speed.

“PSA will continue to invest and innovate on solutions to improve supply chain transparency and create smarter resource efficiencies.”

Senior minister of state for transport Chee Hong Tat said that, while Singapore’s economy had contracted by 5.8% last year, international trade volumes recovered in the second half, helping the city-state to “stay resilient”.

He added: “There were significant disruptions to supply chains that caused congestion at different ports around the world. This affected our vessel waiting times and port productivity.”

Furthermore, he said, more supply chain disruption could come from shifts in manufacturing as companies re-assess operations and eye better resilience and easier trade barriers.

Mr Chee added: “I believe globalisation will continue, but we can expect supply chains to become more complex, and customers will place greater premium on factors such as reliability and flexibility. These trends are not necessarily bad for a hub port like Singapore, which competes on superior connectivity and quality of service, rather than low cost and access to large domestic markets.”

Indeed, Mr Chee said, Singapore was looking to enhance intermodal connectivity, which he described as cheaper than air freight, and faster than sea freight.

The hub is already popular for sea-air cargo ex-Asia, while last year the dearth of air cargo capacity within the region meant air-sea shipments from Europe via Singapore became a viable option for shippers hoping to reach markets in South-east Asia and Australia.

Mr Chee said Singapore had set up specific intermodal solutions for chilled meats and to handle the uptick in e-commerce cargo and, this month, government agencies in Singapore have partnered to roll out a new intermodal express cargo solution with Batam, Indonesia.

Just 20km from Singapore, Indonesia has been promoting the island of Batam as a national logistics hub and free trade zone.

“High-value, time-sensitive cargo, such as electronic components manufactured in Batam, are first transported by sea to our port, before being trucked to the airport to be flown to other countries,” he explained.

“The entire shipment process occurs within a single day. This also enables Singapore-based companies to leverage on cost efficiencies through extended production bases in Batam,” he added.

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