Concerns Over Global Trade Top Middle East Maritime Agenda

Concerns Over Global Trade Top Middle East Maritime Agenda

The challenges faced by the Middle East maritime industry during the continuing global economic uncertainty will be top of the agenda at the upcoming Seatrade Middle East Maritime exhibition and conference.

A host of international and regional experts will address the key issues, providing a critical insight into what turbulence lies ahead for international trade and how the regional maritime industry will be affected.

“Globalisation has led to astonishing increases in global trade which currently represents 30% of world gross domestic product and is expected to grow to 50% of world GDP by 2020. Therefore if the global economy slows, exporters are not immune, which then has a knock-on effect on the shipping industry,” said Chris Hayman, Chairman, Seatrade.

So far regional trade has been relatively unscathed by the global downturn, with the GCC countries recording a trade surplus estimated at $520bn last year.

This year, a report by Qatar National Bank suggests a lower surplus of $493bn in 2012, largely due to high oil prices, offset by import growth of around 3.5%. Broken down, regional heavyweight Saudi Arabia contributed $245bn, UAE $94bn and Qatar $79bn.

“Put into perspective that figure represents about two-thirds of the US’s trade deficit and twice that of China’s surplus, leaving the region’s trade balance in a healthy state. But challenges could be on the horizon and with more than 90% of worldwide trade moving by sea, the shipping industry remains a vital commercial indicator,” added Hayman.

However, in China, second-quarter 2012 GDP figures, showed economic growth running at its slowest pace since the first quarter of 2009, reflecting weak export demand from Europe, its largest trading partner.

A recent HSBC report showed new export orders falling at their fastest pace since March 2009,

China is not alone in this respect, other major exporters such as Japan and South Korea, are also feeling the pinch of weakening trade.

China, the world’s largest exporter, has a share of 10.6% of total world trade, which was estimated by JETRO to be worth $17.9 trillion in 2011, a 15% increase from the $15.5 trillion recorded a year earlier.

“Although China’s economy is slowing, it is still growing at over 7%, a performance that many governments around the world would relish,” commented Hayman.

Meanwhile many economists see the euro zone, which generates 16% of global economic output, shrinking by at least 0.3% this year.

The latest purchasing managers’ index (PMI) which showed that August’s euro zone composite PMI, fell to 46.3 ‘a reading below 50 signifies contraction’.

Unemployment throughout the 17 nation bloc is now at a record 11.3%, which will further dampen consumer spending.

“However this will not affect the oil exporters in the Gulf countries because the euro zone mainly sources its hydrocarbons from Russia and Africa,” said Hayman.

Held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President & Prime Minister of the UAE, and Ruler of Dubai, this sixth edition of biggest event in the global sea trade calendar takes place from November 27-29 at the Dubai International Convention & Exhibition Centre.

The three-day event which also features an exhibition has attracted a host of international and regional experts including:

An unprecedented number of regional experts and dignitaries will take part in the session, including: Keynote speakers include: H.E. Jamal Majid Bin Thaniah, Vice Chairman, DP World & Group CEO, Port & Free Zone World, Dubai; H.E. Sheikh Ali bin Jassim bin Mohammad Al-Thani, Chairman and Managing Director, Milaha, Qatar; H.H. Sheikh Dr Sabah Al Jaber Al Ali Al Sabah, General Manager of Kuwait Ports Authority, Chairman of the Board of Arab Sea Ports Federation; H.E. Shaikh Daij bin Salman Al Khalifa, Chairman, ASRY, Bahrain; Sheikh Khalil Al-Salmi, Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Oman Drydock Company, Oman; Ali Obaid Al-Yabhouni, Chief Executive Officer, ADNATCO-NGSCO, Abu Dhabi and Saleh Al Jasser, Chief Executive Officer, National Shipping Company of Saudi Arabia ‘BAHRI’, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Internationally-renowned award-winning news presenter Jeremy Thompson will be compering at the Seatrade awards ceremony and moderating at the Seatrade conference.

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Source: Seatrade, September 12, 2012

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