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Arctic Yearbook 2012
Singapore: An Emerging Arctic Actor
rise of Chinese ports, due to Arctic shipping or otherwise, need not impact the Port of Singapore
negatively. Indeed, there may well be an upside to a fully-operational NSR: the state-owned
Port of
Singapore Authority (PSA) has internationalized its footprint, particularly in the last decade,
Singapore’s broad expertise in the running of major port facilities may be an opportunity for PSA
International as new northern port infrastructure is required to facilitate Arctic shipping.
Nevertheless, a potential future in which Singapore’s status as a maritime node is threatened
presents a challenge to Singapore’s economic wellbeing. For a developmental state where the
legitimacy of the PAP leadership and the bureaucratic management of the economy is intertwined
with economic success and effective planning, major challenges to the economy are perceived as
national security challenges (Dent, 2001: 2). Therefore, on the one hand, the challenge of the NSR
to Singapore may prove to be overblown, but integrating Singapore into the Arctic governance
system represents a means of hedging risk
while understanding and influencing Arctic change.
B. Potential for the Offshore and Marine Industry
Singapore is home to global leaders in Offshore and Marine Engineering (OME), a critical sector for
Singapore’s economic strategy. In 2007, the Chairman of the Maritime and Port Authority of
Singapore (MPA) made an explicit connection between developments in the Arctic and Singapore’s
OME sector:
It [the offshore and marine engineering sector] must look beyond its current capabilities
and products to stay relevant and remain at the top. It is thus essential to invest in R&D,
especially in areas that can overcome future challenges faced by the global offshore oil
and gas industry. Some of these technological challenges include the extraction of oil
and gas from marginal fields and the development of oil and gas fields in deeper waters
and in the arctic regions where climactic conditions are extreme.
(Ong, 2007)
Certainly, among some observers linked to the Arctic Council, this aspect of Singapore’s interest in
Arctic affairs is viewed as the most significant.
Singapore’s developmental statism helps explain the link between Singapore’s OME sector, the
Arctic and the actions of the Singapore government. The importance of Singapore’s Maritime
Cluster (SMC) and Singapore’s strategic ambition to establish itself as a “global maritime knowledge
hub” by 2025
(Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore, 2009)
indicate that Singapore’s wider state
initiatives have a bearing on Singapore’s Arctic engagement.