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The Middle East should prepare to capitalise on the world shipping industry?s increasing focus on the East, an industry expert has said.

Middle East to be shipping hubShipping services are set to grow

Nick Collins, COO of Clarksons, a leading shipping services centre in Dubai, was speaking at market projections session of the Seatrade Middle East Maritime (SMEM) conference in Dubai.

Collins? highlighted a significant need for the Western shipping industry to focus its business strategy on the Middle East and further East, reports TradeArabia News Service.

?World economic growth is estimated at around four per cent by 2011/2012, with the Middle East even higher at around five per cent, driven by the emerging economies, China, India, Brazil as well as the Middle East region,? Collins said.

?From 2003 to 2009 there was an increase of from 56 per cent to 69 per cent of ships looking to the East and this growth is expected to continue.?

?The region is absorbing fleet expansion from 2008 and the current order book is seeing ordering on a heroic scale, with not much cancellation but renegotiation of delivery dates. Demand is mainly driven by China; in 2009 China imported 84 million tonnes more than in 2008 in raw commodities, such as iron ore and coal,? he added.

As Asian nations like China increase their influence on the world?s shipping industry, companies there have identified the power a Middle East presence can have to ensure their entry to the Western world, he said.

And the Middle East's growing clout as a petrochemical exporter is also adding growth to the regional shipping industry. By 2015, an estimated $170 billion will have been invested in the region?s petrochemicals industry with 30 new plants expected to be completed in Saudi Arabia within the next 12 months alone.
As the GCC countries look to maximize the value of their hydrocarbons reserves by investing in downstream activities, demand for chemical carriers is expected to grow side by side.
South Korea, Japan and China are some of the shipbuilding countries hoping to take advantage of the boom in Middle Eastern petrochemicals production.