Maritime Experts Debate Regional Prospects
The opportunities and challenges faced by the Middle East maritime industry as world trade continues to grow steadily will top the agenda at the upcoming three-day Seatrade Middle East Maritime exhibition and conference (SMEM), which takes place at the Dubai International Conference & Exhibition Centre from 28-30 October 2014 under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President & Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
“According to the World Trade Organisation (WTO), world trade growth of 4.5% is expected this year, which although slower than the 5% previously forecast, it is still nearly double the 2.5% growth expected for 2013. The WTO added that conditions for improved trade are gradually falling into place, although the past few years of sluggish trade growth had reinforced the need to make progress in the multilateral negotiations,” said Chris Hayman, Chairman of organisers, Seatrade.
GCC trade continues to record a surplus - US$558 billion in 2012 (Saudi Arabia accounting for almost half of that figure) and it is estimated the GCC trade surplus hit at least US$492 billion last year. In 2012, GCC exports topped US$1 trillion for the first time, double that of 2009, a third of which was exported from UAE ports. Hydrocarbons represented US$ 692 billion or almost 70% of the total export value.
“Given the global economic backdrop, these are impressive figures, the GCC is now the 12th largest economy in the world reaching US$1.56 trillion in 2012 according to the National Bank of Abu Dhabi,” added Hayman.
More encouraging economic data came from the IMF, which claimed that the global economy will grow by 3.7% this year and 3.9% next year. However it is an uneven recovery, with the EU only growing by 1% this year and 1.4% next year, dragged down by the weaker southern European economies.
“With more than 90% of worldwide trade moving by sea, these economic pointers fare well for the region’s shipping industry which remains a vital part of commercial activity. Even if the Eurozone continues to produce anaemic growth, it is hardly likely to hurt the oil exporters in the Gulf countries because the Eurozone sources the majority of its hydrocarbons from Russia and West Africa,” said Hayman.
To address these and other key industry issues, SMEM will bring together a panel of maritime industry leaders, influential economists as well as shipping analysts. These experts will provide critical insight into what the future holds for trade patterns, energy demand and supply, investment, mergers and acquisitions, infrastructure and their effect on the regional maritime industry, short to medium term.
This year’s Seatrade Middle East Maritime will be its seventh edition and is now firmly established as the largest event of its kind in the regional calendar. Over 7,000 participants are expected to attend along with 240 exhibitors covering more than 4,350 square metres of exhibition space. New this year will be Offshore Marine, a dedicated vertical which will add another sector of interest.
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