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UAE ports set for sharp rebound in throughput

posted on 30/05/2010: 1401 views

UAE ports will see a sharp rebound in their throughput this year, led by Abu Dhabi's Mina Zayed Port and Jebel Ali port, helping the country to remain the largest exporter in the Gulf, according to a recent study.

Ports in Dubai will return to growth this year, with throughput jumping more than seven per cent to 149.18 million tonnes this year after an estimated drop of three per cent in throughput to 139.25 million tonnes in the previous year, according to the recent study by Business Monitor International (BMI).

The UAE-based port operator Dubai Ports World (DP World), which manages both of Dubai's ports – Jebel Ali Port and Sheikh Rashid Port —registered a 46 per cent year-on-year (yoy) slump in profits to $333 million (Dh1.22 billion) in 2009 compared to $621m in the previous year.

"In terms of total tonnage, we expect volumes handled by the Port of Jebel Ali and Port Rashid to return to growth after contracting as a result of the recession in 2009. The Mina Zayad Port in Abu Dhabi is set to experience a much sharper growth, gaining 20.6 per cent to 5.91m tonnes this year," said the study.

Container traffic at Jebel Ali port, which fell 1.4 per cent last year, will bounce back this year with growth of 16.1 per cent to 13.72 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs). It said traffic at Sharjah's Khorfakkan Container Terminal and Sharjah Container Terminal was not "seriously affected by the recession".

Volume growth remained positive throughout, dipping from an estimated 15.1 per cent in 2008 to 9.9 per cent in 2009. BMI predicts growth of 8.4 per cent to 2.98 million TEUs for the Sharjah ports this year, saying that double-digit annual growth in the UAE's trade volume seems to be over.

According to BMI data, real trade growth in the UAE, which had been just under 15 per cent in 2007, fell to 12.2 per cent in 2008, and then went into reverse, contracting by an estimated 2.7 per cent in 2009. This year real trade is likely to gain a relatively moderate 6.9 per cent growth. In terms of nominal value, total trade fell by a very sharp 18.5 per cent in 2009 and will recover by 12.0 per cent this year to reach $379.2m.

The once booming import growth will cool sharply, as the emirates deal with the debt overhang. "We see imports growing 5.0 per cent to $157.3bn this year, a far cry from the 30 per cent-plus annual growth experienced in 2007 and 2008. On the back of oil sales, exports this year will, in contrast, jump by 17.6 per cent to $221.9bn. Having overtaken Saudi Arabia in 2009 to become the Middle East's largest exporter, the UAE, therefore, looks set to hold on to the number one position."

Another BMI report said that airfreight growth rates would recover at both Dubai and Abu Dhabi airports this year. Dubai cargo tonnage will be up by around five per cent range, while Abu Dhabi will experience stronger growth of seven per cent.

"Real trade growth, which had been just under 15 per cent in 2007, fell to 12.2 per cent in 2008, and then went into reverse, contracting by an estimated 2.7 per cent in 2009. This year we see real trade gaining a relatively moderate 6.9 per cent, after which we expect it to remain in the 7-8 per cent range throughout 2011-2014," it added.

BMI predicted a good short-term outlook for both the UAE economy and its freight transport sector. – Emirates Business 24|7


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