DP World launches expansion of port in Somaliland

The soporific seaside town of Berbera is slowly transforming as it takes on a major role on the Red Sea shipping route, allowing breakaway Somaliland to dream of prosperity and even recognition. (AFP)
Updated 12 October 2018

DP World launches expansion of port in Somaliland

  • Somaliland broke away from Somalia in 1991 and has acted as a de-facto independent state since then but is not internationally recognized
  • DP World said the first phase of expansion will consist of constructing a 400-meter quay as well as the development of a free-zone

HARGEYSA: Dubai state-owned port operator DP World has launched a $101 million project to expand a port in the breakaway region of Somaliland.
Somaliland broke away from Somalia in 1991 and has acted as a de-facto independent state since then but is not internationally recognized. The United Arab Emirate’s Dubai government owns DP World.
The port in Berbera exports camels to the Middle East and imports food and other items, but Somaliland hopes it will provide an alternative for neighboring Ethiopia — a landlocked country of 100 million which relies on Djibouti for its trade.
DP World said the first phase of expansion will consist of constructing a 400-meter quay as well as the development of a free-zone, with Emirati firm Shafa Al Nahda the contractor.
“This investment in Berbera ... and the expansion is of a huge benefit for Somaliland to develop its economy. We are thinking to be competitive with our ports in the region,” Muse Bihi Abdi, the breakaway region’s president, told journalists.
The first phase is part of an expansion deal signed with DP World in 2016 and worth a total of $442 million.
DP World’s chairman and chief executive Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem said Berbera would serve Ethiopia’s expanding economy and its increasing trade.
“We did not get assurances from them. (But) they need every port capacity in Ethiopia. It is only a matter of opening the port and making sure the road is there,” he said in a news conference.
But the launch comes amid opposition from Somalia, which believes its sovereignty is being violated. Senior officials have said such deals “bypassed the legitimate authority” of Mogadishu.
Bihi Abdi dismissed the claim. He said agreements with such international firms would boost the country’s quest to achieve international recognition.
“Because when DP World came to Berbera, there was attention from other countries and big business companies because most of them were thinking that Somaliland was not a recognized country and ignored the peace and stability in Somaliland,” he said in a news conference in Hargeysa.
“DP World was a big, international company which dared to come to Somaliland and I hope a lot of other companies from any continent will follow their path and come to Somaliland.”


Japan’s households tighten purse strings as sales tax and typhoon hit

Updated 06 December 2019

Japan’s households tighten purse strings as sales tax and typhoon hit

  • Falls in factory output, jobs and retail add to fears of worsening slowdown after Tokyo unveils $122bn stimulus package

TOKYO: Japanese households cut their spending for the first time in almost a year in October as a sales tax hike prompted consumers to rein in expenses and natural disasters disrupted business.

Household spending dropped 5.1 percent in October from a year earlier, government data showed on Friday.

It is the first fall in household spending in 11 months and the biggest fall since March 2016 when spending fell by 5.3 percent. It was also weaker than the median forecast for a 3 percent decline.

That marked a sharp reversal from the 9.5 percent jump in September, the fastest growth on record as consumers rushed to buy goods before the Oct. 1 sales tax hike from 8 percent to 10 percent.

“Not only is the sales tax hike hurting consumer spending but impacts from the typhoon also accelerated the decline in the spending,” said Taro Saito, executive research fellow at NLI Research Institute.

“We expect the economy overall and consumer spending will contract in the current quarter and then moderately pick up January-March, but such recovery won't be strong enough.”

Household spending fell by 4.6 percent in April 2014 when Japan last raised the sales tax to 8 percent from 5 percent. It took more than a year for the sector to return to growth.

Compared with the previous month, household spending fell 11.5 percent in October, the fastest drop since April 2014, a faster decline than the median 9.8 percent forecast.

Analysts said a powerful typhoon in October, which lashed swathes of Japan with heavy rain, also played a factor in the downbeat data. Some shops and restaurants closed during the storm and consumers stayed home.

Separate data also showed the weak state of the economy.

The index of coincident economic indicators, which consists of a range of data including factory output, employment and retail sales data, fell a preliminary 5.6 points to 94.8 in October from the previous month, the lowest reading since February 2013, the Cabinet Office said on Friday.

It was also the fastest pace of decline since March 2011, according to the data.

Real wages adjusted for inflation, meanwhile, edged up for a second straight month in October, but the higher levy and weak global economy raise worries about the prospect for consumer spending and the overall economy.

While the government has sought to offset the hit to consumers through vouchers and tax breaks, there are fears the higher tax could hurt an economy already feeling the pinch from global pressures.

Japan unveiled a $122 billion fiscal package on Thursday to support stalling growth and as policymakers look to sustain activity beyond the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

A recent spate of weak data, such as exports and factory output, have raised worries about the risk of a sharper-than-expected slowdown. The economy grew by an annualized 0.2 percent in the third quarter, the weakest pace in a year.

Analysts expect the economy to shrink in the current quarter due to the sales tax hike.