Gulftainer CEO calls for greater industry collaboration
Gulftainer is urging industry players to seize the opportunity to strengthen collaboration and take full advantage of improving market fundamentals.
“The maritime industry has witnessed a great number of challenges, from the overcapacity of vessels, caused by the slow growth in global trade, to ever-changing alliances,” Peter Richards, CEO of Gulftainer, told The Maritime Standard.
“Low energy prices, in addition to political instability in the Middle East and Europe, have also adversely impacted the sector. However, there is potential to transform these challenges into opportunities. The key lies in greater collaboration and stronger synergies,” he added. “Within the UAE, the starting point for collaboration is initiating dialogue among industry players.”
Richards pointed out that such dialogue in the shipping industry has traditionally been relatively limited, and the relationship between port operators has been based on positive co-existence rather than meaningful cooperation.
“At Gulftainer, we believe dialogue can pave the way for stakeholders to collectively solve some of the issues that plague the region’s maritime and logistics industry,” he said. “In fact, we held an event to discuss such issues, when we co-hosted the Sharjah Business Summit with key local government entities. The event brought together government representatives and industry professionals to spotlight innovative supply chain solutions. Such events, which serve as collaborative platforms, can encourage the sharing of practices and innovation strategies, and subsequently, amplify the impact of existing initiatives.”
One of the catalysts for collaboration is the Etihad Rail project. A key element of the UAE vision 2021, investment in an integrated rail network for freight and passengers is likely to redefine logistics and transport in the region by creating better intermodal connections between the UAE and neighbouring GCC countries.
“Etihad Rail’s efforts will deliver significant economic benefits, including freight cost savings, business travel time savings and numerous other economic advantages, which we plan to capitalise on,” he says. “Long distance container movements by rail can be complemented by our subsidiary Momentum Logistics’ fleet of trucks and its well-connected inter-city road network.”
It is also clear that the UAE will stand to benefit from being at the centre of China’s US $900 billion One Belt, One eRoad initiative.
“The OBOR project calls for the revival of old trade routes, but under a new paradigm of innovation and collaboration. This directly aligns with our achievements across Gulftainer’s portfolio, where we have been able to successfully develop brownfield projects to deliver highly profitable container terminals, including in the Middle East and North America,” said Richards. “We are now closely monitoring opportunities to acquire additional port concessions in markets across the new silk route.”