Maritime leaders to discuss regional prospects in challenging global trade conditions

DUBAI- An economic forum addressing the challenges and prospects of the industry in light of future oil price forecasts, the state of the Middle East economy and the effect of the Chinese trade slowdown on the region’s maritime sector, will open the eighth edition of the biennial Seatrade Maritime Middle East (SMME) exhibition and conference in Dubai, from 31st October to 2nd November, 2016.

SMME, a part of the Dubai Maritime Week, has speakers and delegates representing international and regional shipping operators, ports, financiers and associated maritime professionals, who will gather for a high-profile 90-minute panel session that will set the tone for the three-day conference and exhibition.

According to data released by FocusEconomics, geopolitical risks and weak global growth, with oil-driven economies most impacted in light of the unstable oil price scenario, and regional consolidation with short-term growth, continue to hamper development in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. The online forecast expects inflation to reach 4.6 percent in 2016, increasing to 4.9 percent in 2017.

“In its August 2016 update, the panel of analysts at FocusEconomics kept the region’s growth projections stable at a conservative 2.3 percent (growing to 3 percent in 2017), which, if it holds will be the weakest growth rate since the height of the financial crisis in 2009. This is a warning bell for government and industry leaders across the region, and SMME 2016 will provide a timely and essential platform for discussions as the maritime community looks at ways to mitigate, consolidate and re-strategise amidst this prolonged period of uncertainty,” said Chris Hayman, Chairman of Seatrade.

Held under the patronage of HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohamed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, SMME is the largest maritime event on the regional calendar.

According to Hayman, among other issues likely to affect the regional maritime sector, such as Europe’s refugee and debt crises, US monetary tightening and Brexit, the panellists will also debate the impact of China’s slowing trade and the country’s economic stability.

Hayman explained, “At the start of 2016, the IMF warned that the effect of China rebalancing its economy will continue to impact global economic growth through 2017. However, it also highlighted a gradual improvement of growth rates for some currently ‘distressed’ Middle Eastern economies, which could, in the longer term, see a revival of maritime opportunity in certain locations.

“But with other geopolitical issues in play, including ongoing discussions surrounding the need for a production limitation commitment from Russia and Saudi Arabia, which was a major talking point at the recent G20 Summit in China, as well as the impact of the US’ shale oil market on future crude oil prospects, this is a challenging market for the MENA maritime industry at present.”

More than 7,000 participants from 67 countries are expected at the show, which is set to evaluate current market challenges as well as look at ground-breaking case studies such as Egypt’s Suez Canal expansion.

Over 240 exhibitors from more than 30 countries will also be represented on the exhibition floor this year, which extends to over 4,300 square metres. Japan, Denmark, Qatar, Singapore, among others, are participating with dedicated country pavilions.

Source: Emirates News Agency