Overseas and international
Because of the DOM-COM (Overseas Regions and Collectivities), France possesses the second largest maritime zone in the world today. Its overseas territorial interests account for 97% of its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of 11 million km2 - including 55,000 km2 of coral reefs and lagoons – or around 10% of the total area of the planet, and give it a presence all over the world. What other country today can boast of being an ”empire on which the sun never sets”?
In 2009 the first meeting of the Interministerial Overseas Council (CIOM) was held (since then, this CIOM has not met again). A number of measures adopted then relate to the sea, a natural extension of the DOM-COM and an essential resource for them. These measures are aimed especially at developing the maritime economic activities already in existence, and promoting the “seaward” approach to which the Overseas Ministry aspires.
Continuing this approach, the current Overseas Minister together with the Minister of State for Transport, the Sea and Fisheries, co-chaired a round table entitled “Marine Biodiversity, Seas and Oceans” at the 2nd Environmental Conference held in September 2013, placing special emphasis on the Overseas Regions and Collectivities.
The sea presents real opportunities for the Overseas Regions and Collectivities:
- energy resources (development hub for Marine Renewable Energy),
- biological resources (medicines, health, ...),
- food resources (fisheries),
- commercial resources (sea route stopover and distribution centre),
- tourism resources.
The overseas expectations merit careful examination: general rules on the functioning of the European Union should be adapted to the Overseas Territories as being special cases, and its policy decisions with an impact on economic life should, at least, be relayed to local stakeholders.
In this regard, the French Maritime Cluster believes in the maritime development of the Overseas Territories and, on a proportionate scale, continues to initiate with local stakeholders the creation of “matching structures” that can influence their local economies and policies.
Thus the first clusters were created officially in Guadeloupe (May 2011), and La Réunion (September 2011), followed by French Guiana (May 2012) and Martinique (June 2013), and finally French Polynesia (June 2014) and New Caledonia (August 2014). They are now hard at work fostering cooperation among local maritime stakeholders, promoting their projects and developing the maritime sector overseas.
Asia is an engine for world growth and an area on which a resurgence in the economic growth will depend in years to come (cf. Senate Report of 14 July 2014).
By 2030 Asia will be the prime centre for wealth creation and scientific and technical innovation, and will account for more than a third of global GDP.
Asia is Europe's top trading partner and France has strategic interests there as a ‘resident’ power in the Indian and Pacific Oceans.
The importance of the maritime zones and communication routes that cross it from the Yellow Sea to the Persian Gulf is unquestionable. The lifeline of world trade goes through South-East Asia. With traffic of more than 50,000 ships per year, it is estimated that 40 to 50% of world trade passes through the Strait of Malacca. This applies not only to merchant shipping (and airline routes), but also underwater cables and the ports that mark out this strategic maritime highway.
Singapore, the Maritime hub
Several aspects make Singapore a key maritime trading centre or “hub”:
Naturally, because of its strategic location on the Europe-Asia route, its history and its economic and political stability, this island micro-country has made maritime transport and industry a key sector of its development.
This status is also down to the performance of its port, which has become a major centre for container traffic, the second largest in the world (31.6 M TEU in 2012) and for refining and petrochemicals and soon gas. The cruise ship market sector is expanding fast as well.
More than 5,000 companies operate in the maritime sector in Singapore, generating more than 100,000 jobs and 7% of GDP (turnover of US$ 16 Bn).
Its reputation is also honed by its many specialised port, marine and naval activities (specialising in ship repair and conversion for oil exploration and production, and in offshore engineering); by its financial market and services (banking, insurance, broking); and also by the many foreign businesses located there, in particular those operating in the transport and shipping industries.
The French Maritime Cluster Committee in Singapore
In June 2014, the Cluster created the “French Maritime Cluster Commit tee” (FMCCS) in association with the French Chamber of Commerce of Singapore (FCCS) in order to reinforce links between businesses in the French maritime sectors or simply to support the French maritime economy in South-East Asia.
The FMCCS is a forum for discussion, exchange, networking and lobbying and a tool for promoting these businesses. It has a cross-sector approach and operates like a business club in relation with the sector committees of the FCCS. For a year the FMCCS has been extremely active and has organised numerous site visits, business meetings and networking events, as well as meetings with project leaders and with maritime and port institutions in Singapore.
In 2015 a study by a group of students from the ESSEC business school in Singapore tasked with mapping out the French maritime industries in Asia for the FMCCS catalogued more than 80 French businesses in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), including more than 50 located in Singapore. This study also analysed 5 growth sectors in the ASEAN:
- shipyards, contractors and suppliers of systems and solutions,
- offshore engineering, suppliers of systems and solutions, marine renewable energy,
- transport and logistics,
- defence industries, suppliers of surveillance technologies and defence systems,
- peripheral services (IT and telecommunications, banking, broking, insurance, certification).
On the basis of these analyses, the FMCCS will enter its next phase in 2015-2016 when, with support from the influential local associations of the maritime industry, it will undertake:
- a study of Singapore's strategy for its maritime sector and how it has evolved;
- a study of the major City-State maritime partnerships in the world;
- the analysis and strategic vision of Singapore of this industry over the medium term.
Armed with this knowledge, the FMCCS will be better able to promote the products, services and capacities on offer from the French maritime industry in South East Asia.