SINGAPORE has long been linked with the sea and maritime trade. What started as a small entrepot centre about 190 years ago is now one of the world's top ports.

Maritime Singapore, however, is more than just the port of Singapore. It is also a major flag state, with the Singapore Registry of Ships being ranked among the top 10 registries in the world.

Companies from all over the world register their ships here.

Maritime Singapore also hosts a vibrant maritime ecosystem, with over 5,000 companies, employing more than 170,000 people and contributing about 7 per cent of Singapore's gross domestic product.

As Singapore's maritime administrator, the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) is tasked with promoting and developing it as a maritime centre.

Chief executive Andrew Tan says: "The MPA is the driving force behind Singapore's port and maritime development... Aside from being one of the busiest ports and transhipment hubs in the world, Singapore is also a leading international maritime centre.

"Singapore's development as a modern maritime nation is built on a rich and diverse maritime heritage that stretches back more than 600 years.

"It is important that we recognise the significance of the maritime industry, and continue attracting a pool of skilled talent so that we can take our industry to even greater heights."

The MPA was established in 1996 and partners industry parties to enhance safety, security and environmental protection.

Its roles also include facilitating port operations and growth, and promoting maritime research and manpower development.

Given the international nature of shipping, Singapore recognises the need for a multilateral regime to govern the industry in a variety of areas, says an MPA spokesman.

An International Maritime Organisation (IMO) council member since 1993, Singapore plays an active role to contribute towards the IMO's goal of safe, secure and efficient shipping.

Singapore also plays its part in maintaining international standards of navigational safety by providing technical help and capacity building programmes.

The MPA has run training courses for over 1,400 participants from over 70 countries.

It also works closely with the industry to provide a conducive business environment and to facilitate business and operations in Singapore, says the MPA spokesman.