Ms Poh Li San: To ask the Minister for Trade and Industry (a) what is the impact on Singapore's imports and exports due to the blockage of the Suez Canal by a stranded container ship; (b) whether there are critical supplies for our industries and domestic consumption that have been delayed significantly; (c) whether there are sufficient stockpiles or alternative supply sources to mitigate the supply shortage; and (d) how has the Government assisted businesses that have been affected by this supply chain disruption.
Written Answer by Minister for Trade and Industry Mr Chan Chun Sing
1. The Suez Canal was blocked between 23 to 29 March 2021 when Evergreen Marine Corp’s container vessel Ever Given ran aground in the canal. Global shipping was disrupted during the blockage. Fortunately, our multi-prong strategy of stockpiling, diversifying sources and localising production helped mitigate the impact of the blockage on Singapore. Singapore businesses drew down their buffer stock, activated alternate freight options for urgent shipments, and tapped on alternate sources of supplies.
2. Nevertheless, the longer-term impact of the Suez Canal logjam has yet to play out fully. The blockage has exacerbated existing challenges in global shipping, including constraints in vessel capacity, congestions at major ports, and imbalance of containers. This will thus put more pressure on global supply chains and increase the cost of shipping in future.
3. The Suez Canal incident is another reminder that in our interconnected world, disruptions can happen at any time and from any source, and they will be felt by the global economy, including Singapore. It is therefore imperative for all companies, to continuously prepare themselves for a more uncertain operating environment, and refresh their resilience and supply chain strategies accordingly.