Rising shipping volumes alludes to economic recovery
  • Opinion
  • 08 April 2021

Rising shipping volumes alludes to economic recovery

Over the course of 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic made its effects known globally. However, Singapore has proven a resilient port in the storm. Thanks to strong governance and positive societal response to the pandemic, global and local confidence in Singapore’s capabilities to weather the pandemic have started to bear fruit in certain industries.

Shipping is an example of a sector that has experienced a strong growth in traffic. Thanks to the explosive growth of consumer spending on household goods and medical equipment, shipping volume at Singapore’s port has increased by 60 percent year-on-year with the uptrend being observed since last year at the onset of the pandemic. Besides the increase in spending propping up the growing shipping volume, analysts have also highlighted Singapore’s place as a key transshipment hub and a safe port to conduct crew changes as important contributing factors.

In 2020, Singapore’s port suffered a fall of less than 1 percent in total volume of goods shipped as compared to 2019. Thanks to the maritime sector’s resiliency, Singapore is still pushing ahead with its mega port project in Tuas.

Although consumer-oriented sectors such as retail and hospitality have been among the most greatly impacted since the Global Financial Crisis of 2008/9, a closer look at the numbers reveals more than meets the eye.

With one-third of Singaporeans making their first online purchase amid the pandemic resulting in the explosive growth of e-commerce, the demand for local warehouses has skyrocketed by a whopping two-and-a-half times more than in 2019. Though office space owners have experienced a dent in their rental assets due to government-enforced work-from-home measures, analysts agree that the drop in effective rents is lower than originally projected thanks to the government’s sweeping Covid-19 response packages. The demand for residential real estate has remained resilient, rising an estimated 2.2 percent last year as compared to pre-pandemic 2019.

These analysts are predicting a resurgence of interest in certain property assets, especially in homes and warehousing as vaccination ramps up.

With local clusters of Covid-19 cases all but eradicated, local confidence in the Singapore government’s ability to mount a protracted effort in stemming the virus has remained steady. A recent global study has revealed that Singapore is the eight-most attractive country to relocate for work, while the desire from locals to relocate has concurrently diminished. The study, which surveyed 208,800 respondents across 190 economies, showed the shifting priorities of the global work force to scrutinize how governments handled the pandemic.

This is the first time Singapore has made the top 10 since the study started in 2014. Surging confidence in Singapore’s handling of the pandemic thus far is being echoed in economic outlook. Among SMEs, 69 percent of surveyed companies are confident that they can sustain their business in 2021. Additionally, more than half of the same group of companies have taken the opportunity to train and reskill their employees to better adapt to the changing economic landscape.

Humans are by nature gregarious, and we are certainly not meant to be holed up in a cubicle or stuck at a workstation all day long. According to design guidelines formulated by the Center for Active Design in New York, physical inactivity and obesity are in fact recognised as major risk factors for chronic disease.

A healthy and happy office offers spaces that encourage occupants to move around and socialise. Well-placed collaboration and communal areas – for example, break rooms, water coolers, courtyard gardens and open café spaces – can encourage social interaction and physical activity.

At EDMUND TIE, individual waste bins have been superseded by a common disposal point, while centralised printers and recycling bins dispersed throughout the office encourage staff to walk more. A well-stocked pantry and well-lit open area at the center of the office facilitate interaction and collaboration among colleagues.

The overall positive sentiment is also underpinned by an anticipated economic growth for 2021: a recent MAS survey with economists and analysts found respondents projecting a potential GDP growth of 5.8% for this year, creating what many analysts are calling a V-shaped economic recovery. The same sentiments are shared by the Ministry of Trade and Industry, who have not changed their initial forecast of 4 to 6 percent.

Overall, 2021 is shaping up to be a year of regaining lost ground and a gradual shift back to normalcy as more countries get vaccinated against the pandemic.

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