Speakers at 3rd TOC CSC Middle East conference discuss future of Middle East ports and shipping

Dubai, 10.12.2013 – His Excellency Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, Chairman of the Ports, Customs & Free Zone World Dubai, officially opened the TOC Container Supply Chain Middle East exhibition held at the Dubai World Trade Centre, Dubai, UAE.

 Delegates, exhibitors and visitors from across the Middle East, South Asia, Africa, Europe and North America have been attending the event over the past two days, the third year running that TOC CSC Middle East has been staged in Dubai.

 In the accompanying TOC CSC Middle East conference, delegates heard keynote presentations from Mr Mohammed Al Muallem, Senior Vice President and Managing Director – UAE Region of DP World and Mr Musaad Bin Abdurahman Al-Drees, Director General of Saudi Ports Authority.

Mr Al Muallem highlighted a number of challenges facing the port industry globally. These included changing trade patterns, with slow or stagnating growth in mature markets and much faster growth in emerging markets that also have huge potential for growth over the longer term.

 DP World is investing in both emerging and developed markets where capacity is constrained or where the group’s customers are saying they need that extra capacity. This year alone DP World has added 1 million TEU capacity at Jebel Ali Port, taking capacity to 15 million TEU, with another 4 million TEU capacity terminal under construction, due to open in 2014. Most recently, DP World London Gateway handled its first scheduled vessel; and the 1 million TEU Embraport development in Brazil also handled its first volumes.

 With a committed pipeline of developments and expansions, DP World's global capacity is expected to rise to more than 100 million TEU by 2020, in line with market demand.

Mussaid Abdulrahman Al-Drees, General Manager of Saudi Ports Authority (SPA), said that the Saudi experience in ports is relatively new compared to other global ports. When Saudi Ports Authority (SPA) embarked on the implementation of a privatization programme of port services, it was known that the evaluation of this step may take time in order to reveal the negatives and positives of the programme's actual implementation. Thus, SPA was keen to begin implementation slowly and carefully to reach a clear vision, developing  controls governing the relationship between each port and the private sector, and adopted fixed-term contracts, so that it can evaluate the experience and avoid potential negatives, while also focusing on the positives when new privatization contracts are signed.

 The privatization programme has increased ports’ competitiveness to face regional and international challenges, and the competitive environment between terminal operators sustained by the programme has raised productivity and efficiency, he said. International and regional maritime value-added trade was attracted, in particular transhipment and re-export activities. The programme also gave opportunities to national and foreign investment capital, and this is evident in the entry of foreign partners in addition to domestic capital.

 One of the most important objectives of privatization was achieved; which is the transfer of operating expenses from the state budget to the private sector through participation in income with scheduled investments for new projects in equipment and supplies. State revenues are increased as a result of high returns obtained by ports from the assignment programme, which led to increasing productivity and expansion of existing services, as well as introduction of new services.

 Since 1976, total investment volume in Saudi ports has reached 58 billion riyals of which 46 billion riyals came from the state budget, and 12 billion riyals from the private sector (as of the end of 2012). Future projects scheduled for Saudi ports over the coming 20 years will constitute a significant leap, especially after the adoption of unique master plans for each of the Saudi ports.

 In 2012, Saudi ports handled 187 million tons of cargo, including: 6.6 million TEU, of which 2 million were transhipment containers. Also, ports received more than two million passengers and more than 1 million vehicles and more than 7 million head of cattle. The total number of vessels exceeded 11,000 vessels.

 Further high level discussions in the TOC CSC conference on the two opening days included assessments of the impact of new carrier alliances, such as the P3 network, on Middle East liner trades, the cascading of larger vessels into previously niche markets, the growing containerisation of refined petrochemicals exported from the Middle East, an update on the Indian Subcontinent’s ports, shipping & logistics development, and Cold Chain logistics and best practice across the Middle East.

 These conference sessions are complemented by a series of technical workshops within the extensive trade exhibition at which visitors can be brought up to date on cutting edge technologies in container handling and management.

 The event runs 9-11 December at the Dubai World Trade Centre with the support of global terminal operator DP World as host port.

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