Trade between Pakistan and UAE: Khor Fakkan port to be more efficient, says official
Khor Fakkan Container Terminal (KCT) is the only fully-fledged operational container terminal within the United Arab Emirates (UAE) that is located outside the Strait of Hormuz and an official said exports from Pakistan will take a day less if compared to Dubai, making the trade more efficient and cost effective.
Andrew Hoad, Chief Commercial Official at Gulftainer Co. Ltd, told Business Recorder that they certainly want to compete with their Dubai counterparts saying “competition is healthy”.
“It helps in making things efficient,” he said.
Gulftainer is the maritime port terminal operator in the state of Sharjah in UAE.
On a piece of paper, Hoad demonstrated how Khor Fakkan port is closer and unloading exports at this terminal is efficient as it takes a day less in comparison to Dubai.
Due to its unique geographic location, KCT has been one of the most important trans-shipment hubs for the Arabian Gulf, the Indian sub-continent, the Gulf of Oman and the East African markets.
The terminal also provides a valuable land bridge to the local container traffic imports into the UAE. Any container imported into the country through the Khor Fakkan Container Terminal reaches a consignee’s warehouse at least four to five days prior compared to the transit time if imported through any another container terminal within the UAE.
It thus provides a crucial service to importers and exporters within the country who believe in the value of money and assists them to maintain a lean and ‘Just in Time’ supply chain management strategy.
Gulftrainer has seven terminals in four countries, including the UAE, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and the United States. The company also has associated logistics companies such as trucking and warehousing.
Gulftainer also has a joint venture for a trucking company with Pak Shaheen Group based in Karachi that was signed in 2006. The joint venture focuses on inland logistics and transportation in Pakistan. Pak Shaheen Group has operations through Karachi Port, Port Bin Qasim, Lahore Dry Port, Faisalabad Dry Port and every sea port and airport in Pakistan.
“The reason I am here (in Pakistan) is belief and confidence in Pakistan. There’s a lot of trade happening between Pakistan and the UAE. There’s a significant Pakistani trading community based in the UAE, particularly in Sharjah,” Hoad said.
“We believe in future growth in trade between Pakistan and the UAE,” he added.
“Pakistan is a big country with 220 million population. There’s a lot of economic activity. And we view it as a responsibility and wish to try and facilitate traded goods between Pakistan and UAE. And we believe Sharjah is an excellent gateway with the UAE whether it is coming through Sharjah Container Terminal or Khorfakkan Container Terminal.”
Hoad said that at both terminals Gulftainer offers good options, integrated packages, handling containers off the ships, trucking, warehousing, custom clearance and a lot of other associated services.
“One of the things we are trying to do is particularly project to Pakistan businesses what those services are. We are particularly interested in rice export from Pakistan and agriculture in general for both imports and exports. We are also interested in the textile sector,” he said.
Hoad said he is on a three-day fact-finding mission and has met representatives from the port trust, chambers of commerce, traders and trade specialists.
He said that they would be doing roadshows in Pakistan soon after Ramadan where they will promote specific segments where “we would tell them fast and cost effective access to the UAE market”.
Gulftainer is a privately owned company having blessing from the royal family of Sharjah.
“We would ensure that goods coming out of Pakistan get good quality service in terms of being cleared through the ports in Sharjah, quickly, efficiently, and cost effectively. We are hungry for business. We are hungry to facilitate exports from Pakistan to UAE.
“For example, a rice exporter in Pakistan signed up with us. Pak Shaheen could move its products by truck. When the goods come to the UAE, we have fast and efficient clearance through ports. We can then offer integrated trucking through our fully owned subsidiary Momentum Transport. We can store those products as well.
“When everything is under one umbrella, it is quick, cost effective and efficient.
“We right now want to serve Pakistan traders better. We would listen and come up with proposals,” he said.
Hoad does not think trade is going anywhere from Pakistan despite the economic difficulties, but there has to be a long-term view. He added that he expects Pakistan will come out of its hardships as opportunities exist.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2023