Leaders from across the Asian maritime ecosystem gathered for the Singapore Maritime Foundation (SMF)’s New Year Conversations 2023.

Three hundred guests were greeted last Friday at the popular event on shipping’s social calendar by SMF chairman Hor Weng Yew, who said the industry has emerged from the Covid-19 pandemic “resilient and relevant”.

He urged maritime companies to “ignite the passion” for the industry in young people by giving them opportunities through onboard cadetships, as well as scholarships and “meaningful internships”.

The guest of honour, Singapore’s senior minister of state for finance & transport, Chee Hong Tat, said the business spending by shipping companies in Singapore exceeded $4.3bn last year.

Chee said the maritime sector had created many good jobs for Singaporeans in areas such as port operations, shipping and ship management.

To round off the formalities of the evening, BW Group chairman Andreas Sohmen-Pao moderated a panel discussion on “Shipping in Times of Change”.

Alex Hartnoll, head of business transformation at X-Press Feeders; Edward Koo, chief operating officer of TCC Group; Frederik Guttormsen, managing director of shipping for the IMC Industrial Group; and Lars Christian Kastrup, chief executive of Pacific International Lines, deliberated on key issues shaping global shipping as it ­navigates an increasingly complex landscape of geopolitical tensions, changing energy and trade flows environmental pressures and an evolving workforce.

Although they highlighted potential headwinds ahead, the panellists all agreed that the overall outlook for shipping is positive.