Trade barriers 'can't alter Gulf’s petrochem strengths'
Dubai, December 9, 2009
Trade barriers cannot alter the fundamental reality of the region’s long-term comparative advantages that will enable it to be the world’s hub for petrochemicals production, said Saudi Petroleum and Mineral Resources Minister Ali bin Ibrahim Al-Naimi.
Addressing over 1,100 delegates at the Fourth Annual GPCA Forum in Dubai on Wednesday, Al-Naimi said the Gulf region’s advantages were based on geography, natural resources, and an already well developed production, refining and chemicals manufacturing infrastructure.
"Neither the recession of 2008 nor any protectionist measures by parties outside the GCC region can alter Gulf’s fundamental petrochemical strengths which is poised to become the hub for more sophisticated downstream products," he stated.
“In this regard, it is strategically and economically in the best interest of GCC producers to de-velop and expand their domestic markets. A vibrant and growing domestic market that provides stability of demand also reduces costs for transportation and mitigates the effects of trade barriers,” he added.
Al-Naimi, who is also the chairman of Saudi Aramco, said that petrochemical producers in the Gulf region export significant volumes of their products to more than 100 countries around the world.
“It is very important for our industry to have access to the world’s market unfettered by artificial trade barriers. There is a concern that deglobalization is a growing threat and could result in restrictions of world trade,” he said.
Al Naimi pointed out that the recent recession had further complicated the Doha trade round of the World Trade Organization which has been languishing for over seven years.
“Currently there is a serious con-cern and some hard evidence that protectionism will gain strength. Gulf petrochemical producers are long-term players, aiming to deliver affordable products to world consumers. It is certainly in our interests to work to maintain open markets and to support efforts to re-energize the Doha negotiations,” he observed.
Al-Naimi urged the Gulf chemicals industry to redouble its efforts for environmental stewardship, corporate social responsibility, training and employment, promoting R&D to support new technologies and small business development, and best practices in safe operations and corporate governance.
He hoped that organizations such as GPCA can serve as a catalyst in helping the industry achieve these goals.
The Gulf Petrochemicals and Chemicals Association (GPCA) is the voice of the regional industry. The Annual Forum is the flagship event of the Association held in Dubai every December.
The Forum has grown over the first three editions to become a truly international event, attracting delegates from the world over. Despite the global recession, this year’s Forum is the largest in terms of delegate at-tendance. The Fourth Annual Forum is being held at the InterContinental Dubai Festival City on the historic Dubai Creek.
Al-Naimi’s address emphasized the importance of the oil, gas and petrochemical industries for the Gulf region. Citing the example of Saudi Arabia’s saga of economic diversification, Al-Naimi said that the chemical industry in the region has become a key enabler of industrialization.
Mohamed H. Al-Mady, chairman of GPCA and vice chairman & CEO of Sabic, Hamad Al-Terkait, vice chairman of GPCA and CEO of Equate and Dr. Abdulwahab Al-Sadoun, secretary general of the GPCA attended the event.
Al-Mady welcomed the keynote speakers and delegates in a brief address that effectively launched the series of discussions at the forum.
He said that the center of economic gravity was shifting from the West to East, and cited the increasing role being played in global economic affairs by Group of 20 now as against the Group of 8 in earlier days.
“Whereas the G-8 had only one Asian member, Japan, the G-20 now includes China, Japan, India, South Korea, Indonesia, and Australia – a total of six Asian members,” he said.
Over Wednesday and Thursday, the forum will feature business leaders addressing a series of sessions that will focus on key industry topics such as 'The impact of the economic crisis on the ME, Driving growth in the Middle East chemical industry with competitively priced feedstock, Succeeding during a downturn, Cost cutting as a way to create value in an economic crisis, How to build a viable Middle East position to sustain growth, Looking beyond the downturn and Building a global presence from the Middle East.
The sessions are being moderated by Darren Jordon of Al-Jazeera Television.-TradeArabia News Service