Activity in the commercial and military work and patrol industries is on the increase according to the Editor-in-Chief of one of the world's leading small ships magazines.
Neil Baird's company publishes "Work Boat World" magazine as well as organising conferences and exhibitions for the commercial marine industry in both Fremantle, Western Australia ("Ausmarine") and Singapore ("Work Boat World Asia"). He says early commitments for exhibition space at the "Work Boat World Asia" event are a good indication of the dramatic economic turnaround that is occurring in that part of the world.
"Already, with some nine months to go until it commences in February 2001, it looks like being about double the size of the first very successful show in 1999," he says.
"At this early stage some 30 ship and boat builders from all over south-east Asia, south Asia, the Gulf, and Australia have decided to exhibit. Strong enquiries have been received from many others from as far away as Norway, North America, and the United Kingdom."
According to Mr Baird, large numbers of the suppliers of goods and services to the industry have also committed to "Work Boat World Asia".
Among them are almost all the major engine manufacturers. The three day exhibition and associated two day conference will, Mr Baird says, be a very substantial one.
"While this is very exciting for us as organisers, it is also exciting for the industry at large. After a few very depressing years, almost all aspects of the small ship market in the region are in the ascendant," he says.
"The $30 per barrel price of oil, the increased piracy and the political turmoil in Indonesia and the Philippines are all contributing to the increase in work and patrol boat activity. Even tourism and simple people movements are on the increase.
"Of course, economic activity has increased dramatically on a world-wide basis. This always lifts the marine market. Nevertheless, experience shows that Asian markets tend to rise further and faster than most others."
The reverse, naturally, occurs on the down swings and this fact should always be remembered according to Mr Baird."We are expecting strong and sustained growth in south-east Asia. This should gain momentum after the region clears away the remains of the 'dot.com' bubble which, fortunately, does not seem to have affected it significantly.
"South-east Asia is a truly exciting area from both a general economic and a maritime perspective. It is an area that anyone supplying the work and patrol boat markets ought to pay very careful attention to."
Naturally, Mr Baird considers that "Work Boat World Asia" is the best forum to create and develop contacts within the Southeast Asian small ships market.
To be held from February 20 to 22, 2001, "Work Boat World Asia" comprises a three-day exhibition and two day conference. Both will be held at Suntec City.
Neil Baird is particularly pleased that the Singapore Trade Development Board (TDB) has given its official support to the event. The TDB has designated "Work Boat World Asia 2001" as a "Promising International Fair".
This accreditation will, he says, benefit all participants, as TDB support for an event in Singapore is seen as acknowledgement that the event has cemented its position in Singapore.
"Many companies and government bodies in the region look for TDB support of an event to help them determine whether to participate in exhibitions or send delegates to conferences.
"The official recognition of the Singapore Government for the Work Boat World Asia 2001 event is most gratifying as it reinforces the belief that Baird Publications has a great deal to offer to shipbuilders, equipment and service suppliers, vessel owners and vessel operators with an interest in the South East Asian region," he concluded.