The World Health Organization first declared COVID-19 a world health emergency in January 2020. Since then, the emergency has evolved into global public health and economic crisis that has affected the global economy beyond anything experienced in nearly a century. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimated that the global economy could decline by 3% to 4.9% from the previous prediction of 3.3% growth. Forecast by the World Trade Organization (WTO), global trade volumes are projected to decline between 13% and 32% in 2020 as a result of the economic impact of COVID-19. The global maritime industry has experienced trade volumes decline, a high degree of uncertainty, and suspension of the supply chain. Container shipping lines have canceled 400 sailings since February of 2020. During this pandemic, no one port can win the fight against COVID-19 on its own. Port around the world should collaborate closely to remain seaborne trade and stabilize the global supply chain.
On August 26, 2020, APSN and China Waterborne Transport Research Institute (WTI) cohost GPAS Workshop 2020. The theme of the workshop focuses on pandemic response and sustainable development of APEC green ports. The workshop is moderated by Mr.Jia Dashan, vice president of WTI. APSN Secretary-General, Mr. Fei Weijun, delivered an opening remarks calling for international cooperation on fighting against COVID-19 and promoting green and sustainable port for trade liberalization and facilitation. Mr. Shan Hongjun, deputy director-general of the International Cooperation Department of the Ministry of Transport (MOT) of China, delivered a speech on behalf of Chinese economies in APSN, expressing appreciation to APSN for its contribution to promoting green and sustainable development ports in Asia Pacific region. He also expressed that China and its Asia Pacific partners would jointly fight the new pandemic and ensure the interconnectivity of supply chains. The speakers of this online workshop are from China, the United States, Singapore, Thailand, Hong Kong, China. More than 100 participants from 10 APEC economies attended the worshop, including experts from the World Bank, IMO, and ESCAP.
Mr. Liu Peng, deputy director-general of Water Transport Bureau of the MOT of China, delivered a speech entitled “China Green Port Development and COVID-19 Prevention and Control”. The MOT of China is committed to developing the harmonious City-Port relationship and proactively promotes green and sustainable port development in China. The actions ongoing include adjusting the transportation structure and optimizing the transportation organization system; specialized initiatives for pollution prevention and control; deepening the application of new energy and clean energy in ports; establishing and improving the long-term mechanism of port green development. On COVID-19 prevention and control, the Ministry of Transport has published “Guidelines on Prevention and Control of COVID-19 for Ports Employees and Key Workers” and other guidelines to guide COVID-19 control for maritime enterprises. China has also distributed the Guidelines to other economics via IMO and APSN. On resumption of work and production, the ports of China have conducted several actions including unblocking the port transporting system; reducing logistics cost and increasing its efficiency; port freight enterprises taking the lead in the comprehensive resumption of work and production.
Geraldine Knatz, Member of the National Academy of Engineering and Professor of the University of Southern California, shares insights on factors affecting the port’s ability to advance Green agendas. These factors cover emission reduction targets, leadership, funding support, and COVID-19 prevention policies. Port of LA and LB’s Clean Air Action Plan 3.0 requires all terminal equipment converted to zero-emission by 2030, and all heavy-duty trucks are zero-emission by 2035. Moreover, Climate Smart Ports Act proposed by CA creates a $1 billion-a-year zero-emissions ports infrastructure program to assist ports and port users with the following: for zero-emission equipment; installation of shore power for docked ships, and electric charging stations for vehicles and cargo equipment; developing clean energy micro-grids at the ports; implementing strong labor provisions to protect dockworkers from automation. Dr. Knatz also proposed the questions, “how the port industry can incorporate environmental and climate change goals in economic recovery plans” and “what port industry has learned to do differently”, as the closing remarks.
APSN 1st Vice President, Mr. Tan Cheng Peng acknowledged that COVID-19 has undeniably caused major disruptions to the global economy, trade, supply chain, and shipping. Although the GDP of Singapore forecasts to decline by 5%-7% in 2020, Singapore, as the global hub port and international maritime center, remains open during the pandemic. To help the industry to cope with the impact of the pandemic, Maritime Singapore and MPA have launched several measures to assist owners, operators of vessels, regional ferry operators, and passenger terminal operators. These measures include 50% reimbursement of rental and berth fee to the ferry operators; half reduction of port charges to passenger terminal operators from March 2020 to December 2020. In April 2020, MPA initiates Port Authorities Roundtable (PAR) Declaration: Gathered more than 50 ports around the world closely coordinating, responding to COVID-19, and remaining port opening. International organization e.g., APSN, IMO, IAPH, ICS squarely behind the declaration. As director of Special Projects in the Chief Executive’s office of MPA, Mr. Tan also indicates that with the reopening of economies, the world paves its way to a “new normal” in the post COVID-19. The world needs to equip with the right tools and mindset to successfully transition to this phase. Thus, digitalization will be a key source of competitive advantage for maritime companies as well as maritime administrations and port authorities. MPA has accelerated its digitalization process and launched digitalPORT@SG, a one-stop portal platform for all regulatory transactions, which will serve as the only digital platform for terminal booking and maritime service in Singapore in the future. This platform will enable integrated & seamless digital experience for maritime customers with cross-portal service integration and data exchange. Moreover, MPA will initiate digitalOCEANS@SG to foster global interoperability through open/common data standards & API exchanges.
Mr. Sun Fuchun, Deputy General Manager of Shandong Port Group, says since the beginning of this year, Shandong Port Group was striving to keeps epidemic prevention and control as well as regular production and operation ongoing. In the first half of the year, cargo throughput has hit 700 million tonnages, with a year-on-year growth rate of 7.1%. Shandong Port Group container throughput reached 14.78 million TEUs, with a year-on-year growth rate of 2.5%. The newly constructed grain terminal has covered by sealing and comprehensive dust control systems with energy-saving and environmental protection technology, trying to achieve a “dust-free” terminal. By the end of 2020, all non-oil & gas terminal in Qingdao Port has covered by 100% shore power facilities. The automatic terminal “hydrogen+5G” introduces hydrogen into large machinery of port for the first time. The goal of smart port development of Shandong Port Group is to achieve a leap forward by upgrading the smart port to smart logistics, smart supply chain, and industry chain.
Mr. Tienchai Makthiengtrong is Administrator 13 of Laem Chabang Port of Thailand. He introduced that Thailand has set up the Center for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) in the pandemic crisis. Port Authority of Thailand (PAT) manages 5 major ports in Thailand under the supervision of the Ministry of Transport. PAT plays a significant role in serving industrial development and supporting international trade of the country. In this crisis, Laem Chabang Port tries to provide a stable supply chain and international trade. 98% of the automobile exports are from Laem Chabang. However, Thailand's automobile export forecasts to decline by 21% to 25% in 2020 due to COVID-19. Meanwhile, Laem Chabang Port is starting to construct a 3-phased port development project. The green port initiatives of Thailand include wind energy, ElectricRTG, Electric Tractors, and shore power facilities.
Hong Kong is typically the second busiest cruise port in China. Mr. Jeff Bent, Manager Director of Worldwide Cruise Terminals, says that the cruise industry will still risk a significant downside in the remainder of 2020 and 2021. Although berth bookings for 2022&2023 have received, volumes may not return until 2024. For coping with the COVID-19 crisis, Mr. Bent suggests that the cruise industry should have to react to crises via different terms. Near term reacting to crisis includes providing fewer ships, younger fleets, lower occupancies, balcony cabins only, shorter itineraries, and no or fewer ports of call. The medium-term include improvements to rebuild conditions for growth, more robust standards, to provide sanitary equipment, to increase COVID-19 detection and prevention, and mitigate the procedures. Mr. Bent also recommended new standards for the cruise industry during the COVID-19 crisis e.g., a new certificate launched by DNV—“Certificate in Infection Prevention for the Maritime Industry”, and EU Health Programme for cruising—Healthy Gateways. He also shares specific anti-pandemic measures at Kai Tak Cruise Terminal, including UV-C disinfection units throughout HVAC, new mobile UV-C disinfection units, and temperature monitoring in multiple locations. At last, Mr. Bent expressed the willingness to share best practices and overcoming the challenges together with the neighboring APSN ports.