x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Mina Zayed sees 27% leap in container shipments

Abu Dhabi boosts its status as an emerging shipping hub in the first half of the year as its gateway port unveiled a double-digit jump in shipments.

Abu Dhabi boosted its status as an emerging shipping hub in the first half of the year as its gateway port unveiled a double-digit jump in shipments, bucking expectations of region-wide falls in turnover. The number of containers handled at Mina Zayed increased by 27 per cent between January and June to 223,281, Abu Dhabi Terminals said. The biggest gain was in June, when container shipments were up by 58 per cent compared to the same month last year, to 44,390 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units). "Consumers don't seem to be feeling any effect from the global recession, with shipments rising in the past two months," said Dilker CP, the business development manager at Expolanka Freight, a freight forwarder. Although imported consumer goods are on the rise, car shipments fell in Abu Dhabi, in line with global trends. There were 19,809 vehicles shipped into Mina Zayed in the first half of the year, half the number shipped in a year ago. The decline accelerated in the second quarter, with a year-on-year fall of 81 per cent in April, 83 per cent in May and 86 per cent last month, Abu Dhabi Terminals said. With slowing sales and rising inventories, Abu Dhabi dealerships have scaled back on imports, particularly in the second quarter. But overall, the rise in the number of containers - which can carry everything from air-conditioning units to foodstuffs - going through Mina Zayed contrasts with estimates for the Middle East port industry, which is expected to see a 7 per cent fall in shipments this year. Globally, the economic downturn will have an even bigger impact, with a 10.3 per cent drop in shipments expected, according to Drewry Shipping Consultants of the UK. Neil Dekker, an analyst at Drewry, said last week: "The container sector is looking at a US$20 billion black hole." The growth comes after APL, the world's seventh-largest shipping line, included Abu Dhabi on its express service linking South Asia, the Gulf and the Red Sea earlier in the year. APL said it added the main-line service to respond to a rising need for imported construction supplies, household appliances and agricultural products such as alfalfa for local dairies. With Abu Dhabi's young property sector still seeing growth, building materials shipments climbed 38 per cent in the first six months to 2.6 million metric tonnes, as progress continued with developments on the mainland and on islands adjoining Abu Dhabi Island. In the cargo category, shipments of general items such as steel and timber fell by 8 per cent in the first half, to 1.21 million tonnes. Bulk cargo such as -cement and its precursor, clinker, was up 141 per cent to 1.45 million tonnes. Freight forwarders said the biggest share of building materials was being delivered to Yas Island, site of the Formula One Grand Prix in November, while deliveries of materials to Reem Island had slowed recently. Abu Dhabi Terminals is owned by Mubadala Development, the Government's investment arm, and managed by DP World. Its main port at Mina Zayed will be phased out from 2011 as shipments move to the new Khalifa port in Taweelah. The number of vessels calling into the port fell by 6 per cent, as shippers began operating larger ships into Abu Dhabi. igale@thenational.ae