However, operating a port and making it a success is not just about cranes, gantries and dockyards. This is the “hard” infrastructure. The more challenging part is to replicate the “soft” infrastructure. In Singapore, investing in infrastructure has been combined with creating a supply chain ecosystem that develops technological, financial, legal, banking and a myriad of other supporting mechanisms. These capabilities are overlaid with a stable, corruption-free government and competent workforce. These capacities are interlocking and complement each other effectively. When working in tandem, it might be hard for OBOR projects to displace this “soft” infrastructure.
Countries have reacted to OBOR in a varied manner. Some have welcomed it. Others have expressed suspicion that OBOR acts as a pretext for China to dominate the Asia-Pacific and beyond. Regardless, the strategic imperatives for states located along the evolving trade route and potentially affected – directly or indirectly – by OBOR are clear. For a tiny trading nation like Singapore, adapting and leveraging on these changing circumstances are key to long-term prosperity. Leaders in Singapore have taken turns to repeatedly state that there are significant opportunities for Singapore and Singaporean businesses. Nevertheless, there are concerns, in some quarters, that OBOR will adversely affect Singapore, and this blog looks to explore if and how Singapore can maintain its maritime dominance amidst the development of OBOR infrastructure projects?