UAE Expresses Concerns For Gulf Shipping Industry
The United Arab Emirates’ economy minister is asking for a global response to the concerns he has for the Gulf’s shipping industry. These worries include threats to close shipping lanes, increasingly violent piracy, and unpredictable oil prices.
Being one of the world’s main exporters of oil, the UAE transports its crude through the Strait of Hormuz. Iran has recently been threatening to block this vital trade route, as sanctions and tensions between the West and Tehran have increased in recent months. Nearly a fifth of the world’s traded oil passes through the Strait and into the Indian Ocean. No confirmation has been made on whether Iran will go through with this threat.
The Strait of Hormuz is also persistently patrolled by a fleet of naval vessels, as the area continues to be plagued by piracy. UAE officials would like more cooperation in battling maritime pirates, mainly gangs of Somalis. Chinese and U.S. naval forces, as well as navies from other oil-consuming countries, have been aiding in protecting shipping across the Indian Ocean and in the Gulf of Aden. NATO reported this week that the international counter-piracy effort, covering an area of ocean four times the size of the Arabian Peninsula, has helped greatly reduce the number of successful hijackings in 2012.
Crude prices have also surged and have reached their highest levels since mid-2008 in the last year. The prices tend to fluctuate based on the fears over the potential Hormuz closure and other various supply issues.
Reuters reports that shipping accounts for 80 percent of global trade, and sea-borne trade volumes have quadrupled over the last four decades. Lastly, Abu Dhabi’s new Khalifa Port will become operational towards the end of 2012 which should assist the UAE in their Gulf shipping efforts.
Photo (thumb): Jebel Ali Port, the largest port in the Middle East, and the seventh busiest in the world.