Wednesday 18, May 2016

Dubai – MENA Herald: The opportunities faced by the Middle East maritime industry ahead of the further lifting of economic sanctions on Iran, will be the subject of both exhibition floor and conference debate at this year’s Seatrade Maritime Middle East (SMME) industry event, which takes place in Dubai from 31 October to 02 November 2016.

One of the largest economies in the region, with an estimated nominal GDP of US$ 397 billion in 2015, EU trade with Iran currently stands at around $8 billion, and is expected to quadruple in the next two years according to data from a Q1 2016 Seatrade-commissioned report prepared by global legal practice Stephenson Harwood.

“With the majority of US secondary sanctions and EU sanctions already removed, this is a milestone moment in the growth of our industry, opening up a wealth of trading opportunities as well as investment opportunities to support Iran’s maritime sector, particularly infrastructure development,” said Andrew Williams, General Manager, Seatrade.

The UAE is Iran’s largest non-oil trading partner and is also Iran’s largest source of imported goods worth around $27.3 billion, in fact the UAE accounted for 96.7% of GCC exports to Iran in 2013. As far as GCC imports from Iran go, the UAE accounts for more than 62% with Oman taking 26%.

“Increased trade obviously means more shipping, extra vessels will require improved port facilities and even the offshore projects will require workboats, so this has the potential to be a defining period for the region’s maritime industry,” added James Willn, Senior Associate, Stephenson Harwood Middle East.

The financial benefits to the Iranian economy are significant too. By lifting energy sanctions it potentially increases Iran’s oil exports revenue to $10 billion by 2017, boosts its GDP growth from zero to 5%, and allows up to $30 billion of foreign reserves, which are currently frozen, to be brought back into the country. Indeed, Indian oil refiners alone owe Iran more than $6.5 billion.

Held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, UAE, and part of Dubai Maritime Week, the biannual three-day exhibition and conference returns to the Dubai International Conference & Exhibition Centre to welcome the region’s largest gathering of shipping and maritime industry decision makers.

Attracting nearly 8000 attendees from across 69 businesses, the event is a dedicated platform at which to do business with owners, operators, managers, charterers, superintendents, senior management and other professionals involved in the procurements of equipment and services within the maritime, offshore, oil & gas and ports industries.

Iran’s active pipeline of infrastructure and oil & gas projects will also be tabled for discussion at SMME, including on and offshore oil and gas field developments such as the long delayed Middle East to India Deepwater pipeline, Arvand Oilfield, Changuleh Oil Field Development and Darkhovin Oilfield development; the proposed Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline; various petrochem and refining projects like the Lorestan Petrochemical Complex and Mahabad Petrochemical Complex; and its new gas projects covering LNG, LPG, GTL, gas treatment, storage and compressor stations.

“A trillion dollars of investment in infrastructure is required over the next decade, and with plans to increase oil output to two billion barrels per year this year, development of its existing maritime sector and international industry relations to drive FDI will be pivotal in re-energising long-stalled trade movement to achieve its ambitious growth goals,” added Willn.

This year’s Seatrade Middle East Maritime will be its eighth edition and is now firmly established as the largest event of its kind in the regional calendar. For the first time this year, SMME will also welcome partners from the International Ship Suppliers and Services Association (ISSA) and Institute of Marine Engineering, Science & Technology (IMarEST) UAE branch, who will hold their own chapter gatherings and events under the umbrella of the 2016 Seatrade programme.