Vafias calls for stronger GCC, Greece shipping ties

Leading shipowner believes GCC firms can learn from Greek expertise.
Harry Vafias, CEO of the Vafias Group.
Harry Vafias, CEO of the Vafias Group.


A leading Greek shipowner has called on GCC companies to work closer with Greece’s shipping industry.

Harry Vafias, CEO of the Vafias Group, one of the largest shipowning groups in Greece with a fleet of 75 vessels, and a major player in the international transport of gas and crude oil, spoke of the opportunities for greater cooperation and joint ventures between the region and international shipping partners, including the Greeks.

Greece remains a world power in shipping and offers GCC companies many opportunities to grow and learn alongside industry leading firms such as Vafias’ Stealthgas.

Vafias made the comments at the Seatrade Shipping and Investment Forum in Abu Dhabi, during which the current state and future prospects of the maritime sector in the UAE and the wider GCC received a strong endorsement.

With the GCC economy growing faster than the world average, conditions are right for further expansion of an industry which includes world class players in ship-owning, offshore support, port development, ship repair and other areas.

Keynote speaker, HE Khamis Juma Buamim, Chairman and Group CEO of Drydocks World and Maritime World talked about the major impact of the oil and gas industry on the region's maritime potential and in particular the growth potential for the region in the offshore sector.

In the container trades, Mohammed Al Muallem, Senior Vice President and Managing Director, UAE Region of DP World, told the audience that global port handling in Q2 of 2013 was 3.2% higher than in the same period for 2012.

He pointed out that changes in the pattern of world trade mean that a significant shift in trade volumes is underway. Whereas East West routes accounted for 40.8% of total container shipping volumes in 2012 (68.7m TEU) the picture would look different by 2015, when 32% of volume would be intra-Asian trade, 9% would be Middle East and Africa to Asia, and 5% would be between Latin America and Asia.

The economy of the GCC countries continues to diversify, he said, with about US$3trilllion worth of projects now underway across the GCC. The region's role as an exporter is also growing, with petrochemical crackers and aluminium smelters leading the way and new industries such as ceramics, glass, cement and steel being established.

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