Published: Sep 30, 2014
Source: Khaleej Times


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GCC ports set to address logistics sector challenges

The Gulf countries, along with Jordan, are riding high in the table of international locations offering favourable conditions for business and trade. 

Booming GCC logistics sector continues to pile pressure on region’s ports as trade demand outpaces infrastructure development; multi-billion dollar port expansion programmes and new GCC rail network to transform maritime landscape but current bottlenecks to be addressed at high-level Seatrade Middle East Maritime conference.

The tightrope between booming trade demand and current overall port capacity in the region, as witnessed by growth of 15.4 per cent since 2013, will headline a panel discussion at the Seatrade Middle East Maritime conference, held under the patronage of Shaikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai.

Multi-billion dollar investment into the region’s ports and plans for GCC-wide multimodal transportation systems are well underway, however the immediate challenge of logistics management is occupying the minds of port owners and operators across the Middle East as trade demand outpaces physical expansion.

According to the Agility Logistics Emerging Markets Index 2014, the Gulf countries, along with Jordan, are riding high in the table of international locations offering favourable conditions for business and trade. In this year’s index, Saudi Arabia climbed one place to third spot, with the UAE at number six followed by Qatar, Oman, Kuwait and Bahrain at 12, 13, 18 and 22 respectively.

This has been achieved as a result of ongoing committed infrastructure spend, with the index also noting that Qatar and Oman, joined by Chile, make up an ‘elite’ group as small economies that are outperforming both their peers and larger emerging economies based on the strength of their accessibility, vibrant service sectors and world-class transportation infrastructure.

“The GCC has at least 35 major ports and is pursuing an ambitious expansion strategy as the logistics sector, and burgeoning non-oil trade, continue their growth trajectory to further position the region, and its key ports, as a global hub for trade between Europe, Africa and Asia,” said Chris Hayman, chairman of Seatrade, organiser of Seatrade Middle East Maritime, which is participating in the Dubai Maritime Week, hosted by Dubai Maritime City Authority, or DMCA, which takes place in Dubai from 28 to 30 October.

In 2013, the UAE’s non-oil trade grew by five per cent to $435 billion with the Federal Customs Authority (FCA) reporting total trade exports registering around $50 billion in 2013 with re-exports growing by 11 per cent to touch $121 billion.

“Petrochemicals aside, the region is seeing huge movement in gold, automotive, precious gems, telecommunications hardware, crude aluminium, copper products, iron scrap and a wide array of items both for import and export, and so its ports play a pivotal role in global trade movement,” said Hayman.

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