Dubai's DP World to focus on 'containing costs' in 2021- CEO Bin Sulayem

COVID-19, other geopolitical factors could still disrupt economic recovery, he says

Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, Chairman of Dubai’s Ports, Customs and Free Zone Corporation. Image courtesy Dubai Media Office Twitter handle.

Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, Chairman of Dubai’s Ports, Customs and Free Zone Corporation. Image courtesy Dubai Media Office Twitter handle.

Ports operator DP World will continue to focus on “containing costs” this year despite an improvement in business conditions, chief executive officer Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem said on Thursday. 

DP World reported a “strong start” to 2021, with gross container volumes increasing by 10.2 percent year-on-year during the first quarter, driven by port operations in India and Australia. 

Commenting on the latest performance, Bin Sulayem said the “near-term trading environment” is now positive, however the ongoing health crisis, as well as other geopolitical issues, could still disrupt the economic recovery. 

“Looking ahead, while the near-term trading environment is positive, we remain mindful that the economic recovery can be disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, geopolitical uncertainty in some parts of the world and ongoing trade war,” Sulayem said. 

“Despite the more benign trading environment, we remain focused on containing costs to grow profitability, managing growth capex and continued execution of our strategy of delivery supply chain solutions to beneficial cargo owners,” he added. 

COVID-19 impact 

Terminal operators were not spared from the impact of the outbreak last year, as global trade collapsed at the height of the crisis.  In April 2020 alone, trade in the Middle East fell by as much as 40 percent, the sharpest globally, according to United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). 

Estimates by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) showed that the volume of world merchandise trade is now expected to grow by 8 percent in 2021 after having fallen by 5.3 percent on average in 2020. 

During the first three months of 2021, DP World handled 18.9 million TEU (twenty-foot equivalent units) across its container terminals globally. Gross container volumes jumped by 10.2 percent year-on-year on a reported basis and up 9.6 percent on a like-for-like basis. 

“The first quarter witnessed a strong start to the year and all three regions delivered growth, especially our terminal sin India and Australia,” DP World said. 

At a consolidated level, the company’s terminals handled 11.2 million TEU during the first quarter, rising by 8.2 percent on a reported basis and up 7 percent year-on-year on a like-for like basis. 

(Writing by Cleofe Maceda; editing by Seban Scaria) 

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