Singapore's maritime industry is expected to post robust annual growth in the next 15 years and remain a key sector of the economy, according to the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore and the Ministry of Manpower commissioned study. The industry, which includes shipbuilding and repair, ship owning and freight forwarding, is forecast to grow between 6.5 - 9.3% annually from 2004 to 2008. From 2009 to 2013, the industry should expand at an accelerated rate of 8.5 - 9.2%, slowing slightly to 7.0 - 8.7% between 2014 and 2018.
In the short-term the shipbuilding and repair sector is forecast to register the highest growth. The shipbuilding and repair sector is expected to grow between 4.0 and 16.1% until 2008, before slowing to between 3.0 and 5.0% until 2018. The maritime industry, comprising about 3,400 firms, currently employs 116,800 people and will remain a major employer on the buoyant growth forecasts. By 2018, the industry is predicted to employ more than 200,000. About 70% of the industry's current work force works onshore, while 30% are employed in ocean-going vessels. Singapore is the busiest port in the world in terms of shipping tonnage and the city-state's registry of ships is the world's seventh largest and the biggest in Asia, he said.