With the continued unpredictability of world markets, the shipping and port industry needs to watch for new frontiers for growth and emerging new patterns in global trade, said Mohammed Al Muallem, Senior Vice President and Managing Director, DP World, UAE Region.
In a keynote speech to the second Middle East Liner Shipping Conference (MELSC) 2012, Mr Al Muallem said: “The Middle East is among those regions that have reported decent trade volumes over the past two years. DP World’s experience shows that the emerging and developing markets offer new frontiers for growth for the industry as a whole. It is up to us, the shipping industry leaders, to explore these business opportunities.”
The two-day annual conference, sponsored by DP World and supported by the Dubai Maritime City Authority (DMCA), is being held this week under the theme “Resilience Amid Global Economic Uncertainty – What Does the Future Hold for Middle East Liner Shipping?” Scores of industry leaders including ship owners and maritime analysts from around the region and outside are attending the event.
According to industry analysts Alphaliner, while the annual growth rate of global port throughput has almost halved from 14.1% in 2010 to a projected 7.6% in 2011, the change in the Middle East was from 7.5% to 7% for the same period. DP World saw a return of volumes to the record levels of 2008 as early as in 2010 and posted a 10% growth in gross volumes globally in 2011, with the UAE Region growing 12% to 13 million TEU for the year.
Mr Al Muallem said, “This indicates the resilience of the region’s liner shipping trade in the face of global economic uncertainties. The continued concern over the Eurozone and slow growth in other developed markets has meant there is a need for caution. We must step up our efforts, individually and collectively, as industry leaders to look for new cost-effective solutions to encourage supply chain growth.”
The IMF in the latest update to its World Economic Outlook, issued on January 24, predicts a GDP growth rate of 3.3% in 2012 followed by 3.9% in 2013 for the MENA region.
Referring to the persisting supply-demand imbalance in global container liner capacity Mr Al Muallem said, “There are still challenges ahead at the global level that can potentially impact the region’s supply chain sector. The answer lies in pursuing value creation through innovative technology as DP World has done at our flagship Jebel Ali Port. Sustainability can only be achieved through superior performance that benefits customers.”
In December, DP World announced plans to expand capacity at Jebel Ali by a further 4 million TEU to reach capacity of 19 million TEU by 2014.
Senior company executives are participating in panel discussions during the Middle East Liner Shipping Conference, including Nichola Siveira, Operations Support Director, DP World, UAE Region, and Raveen Guliani, Senior – Marketing & Communication, DP World, UAE Region.