SOHAR Sets Sights on Breakbulk Opportunities in Asia

Oman’s SOHAR Port and Freezone is planning to capitalise on the economic slowdown in China by focusing on the opportunities that are being created in booming regional markets.

Namely, a delegation from the port is to attend Asia’s largest breakbulk and project cargo conference and exhibition, Breakbulk China 2015, when it opens at the Shanghai World Expo Exhibition and Convention Centre on 17 March to look into the said opportunities.

Commenting on the announcement, SOHAR Executive Commercial Manager Edwin Lammers said contrasting economic conditions in the Far and Middle East are not all bad.

“China has cut its economic forecasts and set a much-reduced growth target of 7 percent for 2015. This will be the first time it has registered single digit growth for the best part of three decades. Its property sector is shrinking too, and while foreign trade fell by 11 percent in January, the opportunities are there,” he said.

“For a start, the Middle East’s construction sector is a huge generator of breakbulk and project cargo, which grew by 51 percent at SOHAR last year. Saudi Arabia and UAE have for a long time commanded the top two positions in terms of spending, and Oman also awarded US$3.53 billion in infrastructure tenders last year.”

“As demand for breakbulk imports continues to grow, our aim is to attract cargo volumes to SOHAR. Unlike other ports in the GCC, we have the demand, the space, competitive energy rates, and a skilled workforce that can cater to Chinese and other investors that involved in Asia’s various global supply chains,” he said.

Residential projects and expanding industrial areas like SOHAR Freezone are behind infrastructure spending in Oman, as are the thousands of kilometres of new railroads and expressways, the port said.

“Being outside the Strait of Hormuz gives us a real advantage over other port and freezone sites when it comes to handling breakbulk project cargo. Our multimodal infrastructure and ground handling capabilities are also equipped to be able to transport goods throughout the region seamlessly,” explained Mr Lammers.

In 2014, SOHAR handled close to 1.4 million freight tonnes of breakbulk cargo, compared to 886,000 tonnes the previous year.