Maritime thought leaders set to reconnect on key issues, 21st – 22nd April, as preview of Sea Asia’s landmark September 2021 event in Singapore

Seafarer welfare and the outlook for post pandemic global trade will form the key discussion points at Sea Asia’s inaugural Virtual Preview event, which commences on 21st April for two days – as part of Singapore Maritime Week. This will take place ahead of Sea Asia 2021, a hybrid virtual and physical event (21st to 23rd September) aimed at bringing people and businesses back together, to collaborate, re-engage, re-establish relationships, and reconnect around the transformation of the maritime industry following the uncertainty and disruption of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

As part of the Virtual Preview, Sea Asia will host its Insights Programme, comprising four webinars where leading decision makers and opinion formers from across the global maritime industry will discuss and debate topical issues and challenges affecting the sector.

The webinar Thriving Shipping Business through the Human Element will focus on the tremendous hardships faced by seafarers over the past 12 months and the all-encompassing strategic aspects of human resource planning, wellbeing and training as society and business re-emerge from the global pandemic. The session will be moderated by Nitin Mathur who is Managing Director, Commercial, Wallem Group, Chair of the Singapore Shipping Tripartite Alliance Resilience Fund Taskforce (SFTF) and a Council Member for the SSA.

Speaking on the subject and the need to re-emerge from the pandemic with more planning and proactivity particularly in relation to crew welfare, Nitin Mathur commented: “The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the fragility of global supply chains and the resilience of seafarers whose heroic efforts have largely gone unappreciated by the world. Ships continue to transport 90% of global trade despite lockdowns and sometimes hostile administrations. However, seafarers have been treated as pariahs and a number of issues such as the mental and physical well-being of crews needs to be proactively confronted. This pandemic has also provided us with an opportunity to consider and reflect on future disruptions and the importance of resilience of global supply chains, including seafarers basic human rights and next generation seafarer training requirements.”

This view is concurred by Jenna Rennick, General Manager, Marine Pacific Operations & Performance, Rio Tinto, who is also speaking on the panel at the Virtual Preview: “The human element of shipping has never been more important as we navigate our way through the pandemic. As an industry, we need to work collaboratively in our approach to key supply chain challenges such as efficient and effective crew change processes, whilst also increasing our emphasis on the seafarer, including a more deliberate approach to managing mental health and wellbeing and with a focus on how to attract the next generation. Sea Asia and the Virtual Preview in April is a strong platform to have this important, and timely, discussion.”

The second webinar, an ‘Ask the Analysts’ session, will focus on Global Trade Markets Outlook and Shipping, moderated by Angelica Kemene, Head of Market Analysis & Intelligence, Optima Shipping Services and CEO, Optima X Maritime Innovation Hub.

The debate will explore the global economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, coupled with geopolitical changes, such as what the new Biden Administration will mean for global trading relationships and how renewed or renegotiated Free Trade Agreements are challenging the pattern of global trade, with major implications for the global shipping markets. The session will also address how markets will emerge from the pandemic, the practical solutions required to respond to the challenges posted by macro-economic factors, energy transport demand for oil and gas markets, as well as perspectives on freight rates, which reached a 10 year high for the first quarter of 2021.

Commenting on current crude demand, Anoop Singh, Head of Tanker Research, Braemar ACM Shipbroking, who is speaking on the Virtual Preview, Ask the Analysts session, said: “The pandemic has surely hastened peak oil demand. But not in a homogenous, all-encompassing way, which you might expect. Rather, it is creating regional and commodity peaks and plateaus and these promise to change crude and product flows.”

On 22nd April – the second day of the Insights Programme – two further webinars will take place on Asia Ship Financing Scenarios (11:00am – 12:00pm) and Shipbuilding Market Outlook (15:00 – 16:00), where there will be speakers from companies including Seafin, WFW Global LLP, Damen Shipyards Singapore and ClassNK.

The Virtual Preview is expected to welcome over 1200 delegates from more than 40 countries around the world, with over 60% comprising C-suite and senior management roles. All participants will also have access to a wide range of free content as part of the Insights Programme.