A delegation from SOHAR Port and Freezone is aiming to capitalise on the economic slowdown in China by focusing on the opportunities that are being created in booming regional markets when they attend Asia’s largest breakbulk and project cargo conference and exhibition, Breakbulk China 2015, later this month.
The delegation and thousands of breakbulk and project cargo logisticians are at the four-day conference and exhibition, Breakbulk China 2015, at the Shanghai World Expo Exhibition and Convention Centre.
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% 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% 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% 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 $3.53 billion in infrastructure tenders last year.
He added: “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 that are providing Oman’s premier logistics hub with unrivalled connectivity from its strategic position outside the Strait of Hormuz.
“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,” said Mr Lammers.
In 2014, SOHAR handled close to 1.4 million freight tonnes of breakbulk cargo, compared to 886,000 tonnes the previous year. In terms of specific breakbulk cargo, infrastructure at SOHAR enabled tenant Larsen & Toubro Heavy Engineering, to supply the world’s largest heat recovery boiler to a Schmidtsche Schack plant in Germany. This project included 10 sets of heat recovery boilers, high pressure steam drums and piping.