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Malaysian maritime trade down 85.5% from 2020

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Malaysia achieved overall maritime trade of RM1.61 billion in 2021, down 85.5% from 2020; with total marine exports of RM722.8 million, down 11.6% from 2020; while total maritime imports were RM887.9 million, down 91.4% from 2020.

According to the data by the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI), the maritime and shipbuilding and ship repairing (SBSR) industries had the highest value of exports to the US (RM143.2 million), followed by Indonesia (RM137.6 million) and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) (RM121.6 million); while the value of exports to the US was RM143.2 million, followed by Indonesia (RM137.6 million) and the UAE (RM121.6 million).

Maritime products had the highest value of exports to the US (RM143.2 million), followed by Indonesia (RM137.6 million) and the UAE (RM121.6 million).

At a total value of RM286.9 million, tugs and pusher craft ranked first among the top three exported maritime products in 2021; followed by yachts and other boats for pleasure and sports at a total of RM213 million; and cruise ships, cargo ships, and barges at a total of RM98.3 million.

Cruise ships, cargo ships and barges were worth RM437.6 million in 2021, second only to light vessels, dredgers, floating docks and floating/submersible drill platforms of RM312 million and third only to floating structures at RM81.8 million.

Meanwhile, a memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed today between three local SBSR players — Grade One Marine Shipyard Sdn Bhd, Muhibbah Marine Engineering Sdn Bhd and Shin Yang Shipyard Sdn Bhd — and the Singaporean company, Evolution Concepts Pte Ltd, to build the first green offshore supply vessel (OSV) locally and supply it to the global market.

The MoU will see the aforementioned parties leveraging on each other’s strengths to build the first green OSV in Malaysia, whereby the local companies (Grade One Marine Shipyard, Muhibbah Marine Engineering and Shin Yang Shipyard) would provide the shipyard facilities and end-to-end vessel construction while the Singaporean company (Evolution Concepts) designs the vessel, incorporating the green technology.

The MoU was facilitated by the Association of Marine Industries of Malaysia (AMIM) and witnessed by MITI Deputy Secretary General (Industry) Datuk Seri Norazman Ayob.

Norazman said that the project would significantly transform the shipping industry worldwide, consistent with the global standard.

“As climate change and sustainability are rapidly shaping the world’s economic growth and trade, the Malaysian government reckons the importance of the progressive concepts of green energy, energy conservation, environmental protection and sustainable development, as encapsulated in the environmental, social and governance (ESG) standards, as well as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) advocated by Unesco,” he said.

“At the ministry level, MITI has formulated a new National Investment Policy Framework anchored on ESG that would drive efforts by investment promotion agencies to encourage, attract, retain and sustain ESG-compliant investments, both domestic and foreign.

“Action plans are drawn to mainstream the adoption of ESG in industries, in line with our nation’s aim to be net zero carbon in 2050 at the earliest,” he added.

AMIM president Soo Jee Main said that this sustainability approach to OSV vessels would reinforce Malaysia’s position as one of the key global SBSR players.

“Malaysia’s maritime and SBSR industry are recognised globally where Malaysia came fourth in the top five economies with the highest Liner Shipping Connectivity Index in 2021 according to United Nations Conference of Trade and Development.

“We also have Tanjung Pelepas Port, Johor, and Port Klang, Selangor, that are ranked among the Top 25 ports under the World Bank’s IHS Markit Ltd Container Port Performance Index 2020, at 13th and 14th places respectively.

“This shows that we have tremendous potential for growth and this project is timely for us to step up our game in recovering from the pandemic.

“AMIM is dedicated to supporting initiatives such as this project that advances Malaysia towards becoming the leading shipyard industry in the world while simultaneously backing the government’s ongoing efforts to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050,” Soo said.

Soo also believed that this project would open doors across various sectors and boost Malaysia’s economy as a whole. “As a pioneering project of a cross-border collaboration, it is opportunistic in nature.

“All involved parties have different but equal roles, leading to strengthened employment, technology and knowledge transfer, as well as market expansion.

“The project, which is tentatively commenced in 2023, would enrich the SBSR industry and, indirectly, the oil and gas sector. With this, Malaysian SBSR companies have proven capable of building green vessels and are ready to receive orders.

“This would also attract more foreign investments as well as collaborations and, hopefully, further create meaningful job opportunities for Malaysians in the maritime industry,” he added.

The project costs approximately US$25 million (RM111.25 million) and is expected to take around 18 to 24 months to be completed, from design to building phase.

According to Evolution Concepts MD Calvin Chong, the project will feature the Blue G Battery System, which can be charged by the generator sets onboard, as well as any sustainable solution from the shore. With this technology, the vessel would prove to be fuel-saving and is able to reduce its carbon footprint, vessel operational expenditure and lifecycle cost.

“This first green vessel built in Malaysia would feature the Blue G Battery System which would minimise the usage of the generator sets.

“As the technology advances, there will be more sustainable solutions for the main generators to complement the battery system.

“The Blue G Battery System capacity will be calculated based on the vessel’s total power requirement and it will be able to be optimised based on the operational requirement,” he said.

The Blue G Battery System is to be used on all future ocean-going vessels in support of the global decarbonisation journey for the OSV segment. This electric solution is in line with the 2050 Paris Agreement and will have a significant impact on the vessel owner as well as the vessel charterer.

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