At the recent DBS Asian Insights Conference, PSA International Group CEO Tan Chong Meng shared his insights on the disruption that global supply chains are facing in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic and how businesses can retain their relevance in a post-pandemic world.

The event, hosted by Singapore bank DBS on July 23, brought together a distinguished group of global thought leaders, executives and subject matter experts to discuss the issues businesses and people are now facing.

Besides discussing changes to the industry, he also urged greater private and public sector cooperation to protect livelihoods impacted by the pandemic.

In the wake of COVID-19 and other disruptions, supply chain leaders have had to look at how to balance resilience and efficiency to secure their networks. As a global port operator, PSA is constantly looking to create better efficiencies for our partners, shipping lines, and even our shipping partners’ customers, the cargo owners as well.

Chong Meng said that moving forward, it is important to invest in port adjacencies, and make supply chains more reliable and resilient.

“There will be investments in making intermodal freight transport more efficient (and) more seamless… Logistics as a whole is like a team sport with many fragmented parts, this fragmentation has shown up,” he said, adding “We have a responsibility, to try and connect them better.”

In response to a question on whether the disruption to supply chains will impact overall trade volumes and the port business, Chong Meng said that while the true impact remains to be seen, there are greater global trends at play.

“I think the more systemic trend is one of geopolitical tensions, trade protectionism, (the) technology war and others. The COVID-19 pandemic has added another layer of challenges within the bigger forces at play… I think it forces people to think of logistics more strategically, but not necessarily the global versus regional dilemma that I believe is driven largely by bigger forces,” said Chong Meng.

He noted that there has been a history of good exchange and collaboration between the public and private sector in Singapore. “There’s a very strong public sector, often providing good leadership, but also a vibrant private sector comprising local, good and strong companies and many international companies,” he said.

Chong Meng said that with this crisis, the dynamics of private and public sector conversations have somewhat changed, especially around livelihoods, adding that it is important to “consider the things that we need to prepare ourselves for, not just in terms of jobs but also the type of jobs that are future proof”.

He said that we must confront what the future will be like, “pursue sustainability”, and evolve from “protecting lives to also protecting livelihoods”.

To view the full webinar recording, click HERE.