In August 2023, the first ASEAN Maritime Outlook was launched by ASEAN. The report outlines the ongoing cooperation efforts undertaken by ASEAN Sectoral Bodies, mechanisms, and processes dealing with various aspects of maritime-related issues. This publication will serve as a practical reference in understanding maritime trends and challenges in the region, strengthen synergies, and guide ASEAN to avoid duplication of efforts among relevant mechanisms, bodies, and processes.

Excerpts …

The Kuala Lumpur Transport Strategic Plan (KLTSP) 2016-2025 is the main reference guiding ASEAN transport cooperation. The maritime transport strategic goals under the KLTSP are to establish an ASEAN Single Shipping Market (ASSM) and to promote maritime safety, security, and strategic economic corridors within ASEAN. ASEAN cooperation in maritime transport is also guided by the Roadmap towards an Integrated and Competitive Maritime Transport in ASEAN, which seeks to promote and strengthen intra-ASEAN shipping market and services. The measures under the Roadmap are focused on developing an ASEAN single voice in international maritime fora, infrastructure development, market integration through development strategies for an ASSM and human resources development.

As part of the Implementation Framework of the ASEAN Single Shipping Market (ASSM) endorsed by the 38th STOM/20th ATM in 2014, in Mandalay, Myanmar, a Cost and Benefit Analysis (CBA) is being conducted on three pilot ports, i.e. Johor Port (Malaysia), Davao Port (the Philippines) and the Port of Singapore. The CBA aims, among others, to identify specific measurable aspects and components related to ship and port clearance to be implemented by the three pilot ports and the costs involved based on the mandatory requirements of the International Maritime Organization’s Convention on Facilitation of International Maritime Traffic 1965 (IMO FAL Convention 1965).

Following up on the recommendations from the Master Plan and Feasibility Study on the Establishment of an ASEAN RO-RO Shipping Network and Short Sea Shipping, which was completed in 2013, the implementing countries, i.e. Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Thailand, were encouraged to explore possible avenues to operationalise three priority routes, namely General Santos-Bitung, Melaka-Dumai, and Belawan-Phuket-Penang. The maiden voyage of the Davao–General Santos (the Philippines)– Bitung (Indonesia) route was launched on 30 April 2017, in Davao City, the Philippines. Indonesia and the Philippines are strengthening coordination to ensure the sustainability of this route.

However, due to certain constraints, the Belawan-Phuket-Penang route will be further deliberated by the relevant Member States, which includes consideration of other potential and viable route. Meanwhile, Indonesia and Malaysia are preparing for the operationalisation of the Dumai-Melaka RO-RO route, which has been delayed due to COVID-19 restrictions. In October 2022, both Member States undertook technical site-visits to determine the readiness of the ports, with a view to commencing operations by 2024.

As a step toward a mutually-recognised certificate of competency for Near Coastal Voyages (NCV) issued by ASEAN Member States in line with the Manila Amendment 2010 of the Standards of Training, Certification and Watch keeping for Seafarers (STCW) Convention, ASEAN adopted the Framework of Cooperation on certification of competency for NCV certificates issued by ASEAN Member States during the 22nd ATM in November 2016, in Manila, the Philippines. The Framework serves as a mechanism to address disparities in the area of trading limits and syllabus requirements between ASEAN Member States on NCV Certificates and focuses on capacity-building efforts and information-sharing among ASEAN Member States. In order for ASEAN Member States to have a reference on safety standards for Non-Convention Ships (NCS), the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on the Improvement of Safety Standards and Inspection for NonConvention Ships (NCS) within ASEAN Member States was signed during the 24th ATM in November 2018, in Bangkok, Thailand.

Along with the signing of the MOU, the Guidelines for Safety Standards for Non-Convention Ships was also adopted. Both the MOU and the Guidelines provide safety references for small-sized ships that are not governed by international conventions, including, among others, fishing vessels, wooden ships of primitive build, and ships not propelled by mechanical means. The safety improvement of such small-sized vessels operating in ASEAN’s waters could support small-scale trade and economic activities along the coastlines in the region.

On maritime security, ASEAN Member States focus on strengthening human resource base for port and shipping operations, including navigation safety and maritime security. To date, various activities have been carried out under ASEAN-Japan cooperation for the purpose of facilitating smooth introduction of the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code and continuously improving security measures based on the ISPS code. Under the 2017 Regional Action Plan on Port Security (RAPPS), various efforts to improve port security capability are ongoing, including capacity building through domestic training across ASEAN Member States as well as the revision of ASEAN models of the Audit Training Programme and the Maritime Security Training of Trainers (ToT) Programme.

The Booklet of Best Practices in Port Security Measures for the Training of Trainers (ToT) Manual and Model Audit Training was endorsed by the 21st STOM+Japan and 20th ATM+Japan in October 2022. The Booklet is a collection of case studies on port security-related activities in each ASEAN Member State and would serve as a reference for government officials and port security managers to improve their port security practical skills and aid in their planning and implementation of security measures. To continue the activities under RAPPS 2017, the RAPPS 2024 is expected to be adopted at the 22nd STOM+Japan and 21st ATM+Japan in November 2023.

Under RAPPS 2024, the following activities would be implemented:

  • continuous improvement of port security measures
  • human resource development and practical capacity building for port security measures; and
  • upgrading port security measures for emerging issues.

To mitigate maritime transport Green House Gas (GHG) emissions, the ASEAN Green Ship Strategy was adopted at the 25th ATM in Hanoi in November 2019 to promote the use of environmentally friendly ships, particularly conventional ships, and to minimise the effect of climate change from GHG emissions. The Strategy does not set a numerical goal of GHG reduction. However, it is intended to facilitate information sharing on ASEAN Member States’ national policies in an effort to encourage the use of green ships. To implement the Strategy, ASEAN Member States regularly share their respective national policies (policy inventory) as well as various national green ship and port initiatives through the MTWG meetings.

On container shipping, the Implementation Framework and Action Plan to Enhance Container Circulation in ASEAN was adopted by the 28th ATM in October 2022, in Bali, Indonesia. This document has 11 initiatives to be conducted between 2023 to 2026, with a view of strengthening long-term capabilities and resilience of regional container shipping and multimodal transport, and would help support growing maritime trade levels, as ASEAN economies recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Guidelines on Smart Ports is targeted to be adopted at the 29th ATM in November 2023, which aims to promote port digitalisation and innovation in ASEAN. This initiative aims to enhance the technological level of ASEAN ports and bridge the performance gap between ASEAN ports and leading global ports. The Guidelines would assist ASEAN Member States to define the concept of Smart Port and identify Smart Port Performance Indicators (SPPI) in order to asses the level of port digitalisation in ASEAN Member States.

The entire report can be accessed here.