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Sat 24 Jan 2009 10:16 AM

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Saudi transport sector to grow by 3.9% - report

Growth in the kingdom's transport industry will 'outpace' the overall economy.

Saudi Arabia’s transport sector is expected to grow by up to four percent in the next five years, outpacing the overall economy, an industry report said on Friday.

The kingdom’s GDP growth between 2009 and 2013 will reach an annual average of 3.4 percent, lower than the 3.8 percent achieved over the previous five years, according to Saudi daily the Saudi Gazette.

The fastest growth will be seen in the transport industry that will acheive an average annual growth of 3.9 percent, versus 3.4 percent for overall GDP, the report said.

The fastest growing area is predicted to be sea cargo, with an average growth rate of 5.8 percent per annum.

This will be followed by rail at an annual average of 4.7 percent, airfreight at 4.2 percent, road haulage at 3.7 percent and pipeline throughput at 2.3 percent, the report said.

Big infrastructure projects will also help expand transport capacity and boost demand for cargo.

For the 2009 to 2013 forecast period, “we expect the transport and communications sector to continue outpacing the economy as a whole in GDP growth terms,” the report said.

Saudi Arabia’s overall freight rating at 53.0 out of 100 is a little below the average for the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region, it also pointed out.

The total value of transport and communications GDP will rise to $25.2 billion in nominal terms by 2013, representing 5.7 percent of Saudi Arabia’s GDP.

Meanwhile, the SPA news agency reported last week that total investment in Jizan Economic City (JEC) in 2008 had been SR25 billion ($6.7 billion).

Feizal Ali, MMC’s CEO, said companies committed to the project included China Merchants Holdings, which would be involved in the construction of a deep water port for the city.

The port will seek to maximize traffic from the Red Sea and Suez Canal and will cost an estimated $1.4 billion to develop.

Other plans include the construction of a shipbuilding yard, a steel mill, an aluminum smelter and a refinery.

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