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Bismillah Irrahma Nirrahim
Assalammualaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarkatuh, Selamat Hari Raya and Very Good Evening.

First of all I would like to express my sincere thanks to Pg Hj Abd Rahman PSI Pg Hj Ismail, Director of Ports, for inviting me to be the Guest of Honour and to deliver my keynote address at tonight’s Port Community Night. I would like to congratulate Ports Department and PSA Muara Container Terminal for jointly-organizing this Port Community Night.

I have been informed that tonight’s function has more than one objectives. For one, it is a welcome dinner for the delegates to the 9th BIMP-EAGA Working Group on Sea Linkages, Transportation and Shipping services. For that I would like to wish Selamat Datang to all our foreign guests to Brunei Darussalam. I wish you all success in your deliberation. I appreciate that you have two-days of busy schedule ahead of you. However, I hope that you will have time to sight-see and enjoy what our country has to offer. I hope that your stay here will be a pleasant and memorable one.

According to the ‘Review of Maritime Transport, 2003’ reported by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development secretariat, during the year 2002 the growth of world output recovered to 1.9 percent from the low of 1.2 percent recorded for 2001. However, with the exception of the United States, Asia and China, most regions saw their output rates continuing to decline. Forecasts of world economic output growth for 2003 have been cautiously optimistic, between 1.9 and 3.2 percent, notably after the quick ending of the war in Iraq and in spite of concern caused by the outbreak of SARS in the fastest growing country of the world – China.

World seaborne trade increased slightly in 2002, reaching 5.88 million tons of loaded goods. The annual growth rate, calculated using the provisional data available for 2002, reached 0.8 percent. Asia had by far the largest share of world tonnage of seaborne loaded goods – 37 percent, 7 percent of which is the ASEAN share. Forecasts for 2003, indicate that annual growth rates will probably be positive but modest.

The world growth rate for container port throughput increased by 2.2 percent in 2001. The throughput for 2001 reached 236.7 million TEU, an annual increase of 5 million TEU from the level of 231.7 million TEU reached in 2000. The Study also highlighted a number of institutional changes taking place in the year 2002 which include but not limited to the following:

* Port operators were divesting non-core businesses and were expanding abroad;

* Negotiations between companies leading towards mergers or acquisitions in the ports field;

* The Minister of Transport of Thailand explained to workers that corporatization of Port Authority of Thailand was necessary to raise efficiency and not out to sell shares to foreigners;

* The labour dispute in the West Coast of United States of America between the Pacific Maritime Association and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union because of the introduction of information technology that directly threatened the jobs of about 400 clerks, resulted in the closure of 29 ports in the West Coast of united States for 11 days. The impact of the closure to the economy was estimated at $1 billion per day.

ASEAN Leaders during its summit in Bali, Indonesia in October 2003 issued Bali Concord II in which the Leaders declared that an ASEAN Community shall be established comprising three pillars, namely political and security cooperation, economic cooperation, and socio-cultural cooperation that are closely intertwined and mutually reinforcing for the purpose of ensuring durable peace, stability and shared prosperity in the region.

The ASEAN Economic Community is the realisation of the end-goal of economic integration as outlined in the ASEAN Vision 2020, to create a stable, prosperous and highly competitive ASEAN economic region in which there is a free flow of goods, services, investment and a freer flow of capital, equitable economic development and reduced poverty and socio-economic disparities in year 2020.

The ASEAN Economic Community shall establish ASEAN as a single market and production base, turning the diversity that characterises the region into opportunities for business complementation making the ASEAN a more dynamic and stronger segment of the global supply chain.

In moving towards the ASEAN Economic Community, ASEAN shall, inter alia, institute new mechanisms and measures to strengthen the implementation of its existing economic initiatives including the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA), ASEAN Framework Agreement on Services (AFAS) and ASEAN Investment Area (AIA); accelerate regional integration in the priority sectors; facilitate movement of business persons, skilled labour and talents. Port and Shipping will play important role in the development of ASEAN Economic Community.

Port and Shipping have been playing and will continue to play a very important role in the economic development of a nation and the region as well as to support other industries in particular trade, travel and tourism. The vast distances and sea that characterize the ASEAN region and the dynamic growth of the ASEAN region highlight the important of an efficient port and shipping system to guarantee further infrastructural and economic development as well as mobility and accessibility within the region.

With the growth in maritime traffic, seaborne trade, container traffic, and the growing concern in security as well as changes in the economic landscape, Muara Port like any other ports in the world faces various challenges and opportunities. These developments call for the most efficient, competitive and secure port and shipping services.

According to the Report of the ASEAN Maritime Transport Development Study, in order to improve port management and operations in the ASEAN, the respective port authorities should continue to have a full understanding of the port dynamics that increasingly bring these radical changes and intense global competition, among others:

* Globalizing production has given ports a unique opportunity to become value-adding entities such as the distriparks in ports;

* The increasing containerization of world trade brings major technology changes in both shipping and port;

* Distribution patterns have increasingly evolved into a hub and spoke network;

* Port authorities are increasingly faced with the need to provide: adequate security measures in the port in compliance with IMO ISPS Code before July 2004; and adequate reception facilities in the port in compliance with IMO MARPOL Convention 1973/1978.

With regard to the requirements of International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code, I am happy to note that the Ports Department together with other port facilities operators are taking necessary steps in order to meet the ISPS Code requirement and ensure that port facilities in Brunei Darussalam will meet the compliance date of 1 July 2004.

I strongly urge Ports Department together with the Port Community to fully understand the port dynamics so as to provide the most efficient, competitive and secure port and shipping services.

In order to make Muara Port more competitive, a variety of port services need to be provided. I strongly encourage private sector to take up the challenge in establishing port services such as distiparks, distribution and logistics centres, seamless services through multimodal services, bunkering, etc.

The opening up of new markets such as AFTA and the vision to make Muara Port as the Hub Port of the BIMP-EAGA creates a lot of business opportunities. It is my sincere hope that more local companies will come forward and actively participate in providing new port and shipping related services. The Government of His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam will continue to play its role in facilitating the growth of the private sector. For new services, I will assure you that Ministry of Communications is prepared to consider giving special incentives so as to assist in the starting up of the operations.

The development of Muara Port as the Hub Port the BIMP-EAGA area will require continuous support of various port service providers comprising the government agencies and private sector. It is appreciated that the port community have played a vital role in the development and progress of the port and logistics industry and will have to continue to play this very important role. Without them it is almost impossible for the port to function effectively and efficiently. The government and the private sector share equal responsibilities and in developing the port and logistics industry in specific, and the whole of Brunei Darussalam’s economy in general. Gone are the days when the government is the sole provider for everything.

The port community’s contributions are appreciated. This appreciation night to the port community is a testimony that the government does not take the private sector for granted. The presentation of the Port Awards for the seven categories of services is another testimony in recognition of the services provided and it is my sincere hope that the awards will further encourage the Muara Port service providers to strive in providing excellent services.

I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the recipients of the awards. To those non-recipients, please don’t ever feel disheartened. It does not mean that you have not been doing well. Let this be an incentive and a driver for you all to strive to do even better in the future. I urge you to compete healthily and in harmony. I am sure there are abundant opportunities available for grab if only you have the will and the courage. Don’t feel contented with what you have achieved. Try to expand and explore. That is the key to progress.

Towards the realisation of the vision to make Muara Port as the hub port for the BIMP-EAGA region, require full commitment and support from both the public and the private sector. I am fully confident that the Port Community will enhance their efforts and cooperation so as to realize the vision.

Creating Muara Port as a hub port for BIMP-EAGA would change the landscape of Muara Port: there would be more ship calls; considerable growth in container and cargo throughput; provide job opportunity; increase in workforce; a base for international port business; increase in port connectivity. Let’s work together in developing Muara Port. Development of Muara Port should be viewed as a cooperative partnership to accomplish a common goal of making Muara Port as the hub port for BIMP-EAGA. To conclude, I sincerely wish you all will have an enjoyable night.

(c) Ministry of Communications