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Trade barriers cannot alter Gulf's fundamental petrochemical strengths, says Al-Naimi

9:55 AM MST | December 21, 2009 | News Release

Fourth Annual GPCA Forum gets underway in Dubai
Dubai, December 9 2009: Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources H.E. Ali bin Ibrahim Al-Naimi said today that neither the recession of 2008 nor any protectionist measures by parties outside the GCC region can alter the fundamental reality of the region’s long-term comparative advantages that will enable it to be the world’s leading hub for petrochemicals production, and increasingly, the hub for more sophisticated downstream products.  
Addressing over 1,100 delegates at the Fourth Annual GPCA Forum in Dubai this morning, Al-Naimi said: “The Gulf region’s advantages are based on geography, natural resources, and an already well developed production, refining and chemicals manufacturing infrastructure.”
“In this regard, it is strategically and economically in the best interest of GCC producers to develop and expand their domestic markets.  A vibrant and growing domestic market that provides stability of demand also reduces costs for transportation and mitigates the effects of trade barriers,” he added. 
Al-Naimi, who is also the Chairman of Saudi Aramco, noted that petrochemical producers in the Gulf region export significant volumes of their products to more than 100 countries around the world. “It is very important for our industry to have access to the world’s market unfettered by artificial trade barriers. There is a concern that deglobalization is a growing threat and could result in restrictions of world trade,” he said.
Al Naimi cutting ribbon

Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources
H.E. Ali bin Ibrahim Al-Naimi cutting the ribbon at the Fourth
Annual GPCA Forum

He said the recent recession had further complicated the Doha trade round of the World Trade Organization which has been languishing for over seven years. “Currently there is a serious concern and some hard evidence that protectionism will gain strength… Gulf petrochemical producers are long-term players, aiming to deliver affordable products to world consumers. It is certainly in our interests to work to maintain open markets and to support efforts to re-energize the Doha negotiations,” he said.
Al-Naimi urged the Gulf chemicals industry to redouble its efforts for environmental stewardship, corporate social responsibility, training and employment, promoting Research and Development to support new technologies and small business development, and best practices in safe operations and corporate governance. He hoped that organizations such as GPCA can serve as a catalyst in helping the industry achieve these goals.
The Gulf Petrochemicals and Chemicals Association (GPCA) is the voice of the regional industry. The Annual Forum is the flagship event of the Association held in Dubai every December. The Forum has grown over the first three editions to become a truly international event, attracting delegates from the world over. Despite the global recession, this year’s Forum is the largest in terms of delegate attendance. The Fourth Annual Forum is being held at the InterContinental Dubai Festival City on the historic Dubai Creek.
Al-Naimi’s address emphasized the importance of the oil, gas and petrochemical industries for the Gulf region. Citing the example of Saudi Arabia’s saga of economic diversification, Al-Naimi said that the chemical industry in the region has become a key enabler of industrialization.
Al-Naimi, who cut the ceremonial ribbon to open the Forum-associated exhibition earlier, was welcomed by Mohamed H. Al-Mady, Chairman of GPCA and Vice Chairman & CEO of SABIC, Hamad Al-Terkait, Vice Chairman of GPCA and CEO of EQUATE, and Dr. Abdulwahab Al-Sadoun, Secretary General of the GPCA.
Al-Mady welcomed the keynote speakers and delegates in a brief address that effectively launched the series of discussions at the Forum. Al-Mady said that the center of economic gravity was shifting from the West to East, and cited the increasing role being played in global economic affairs by Group of 20 now as against the Group of 8 in earlier days. “Whereas the G-8 had only one Asian member, Japan, the G-20 now includes China, Japan, India, South Korea, Indonesia, and Australia – a total of six Asian members,” he said. 
Over Wednesday and Thursday, the Forum will feature business leaders addressing a series of sessions that will focus on key industry topics such as The impact of the economic crisis on the Middle East, Driving growth in the Middle East chemical industry with competitively priced feedstock, Succeeding during a downturn, Cost cutting as a way to create value in an economic crisis, How to build a viable Middle East position to sustain growth, Looking beyond the downturn and Building a global presence from the Middle East.  The sessions are being moderated by Darren Jordon of Al-Jazeera Television. 

From left to right: Dr. Abdulwahab Al-Sadoun, Secretary General of the
GPCA, H.E. Ali bin Ibrahim Al-Naimi and Mohamed H. Al-Mady, Chairman
of GPCA and Vice Chairman & CEO of SABIC

These topics will be tackled by industry leaders and analysts including Stephen Pryor, President, ExxonMobil Chemical; Klaus Engel, Chairman, Evonik Industries; Brad Bourland, Chief Economist and Managing Director, Proprietary Investment, Jadwa Investments; Greg Garland, President and CEO, Chevron Phillips Chemical; Paul A. Laudicina, Chairman and Managing Director, A.T. Kearney; and Mark Garrett, CEO, Borealis.
The Forum features two breakout sessions, one focusing on Human Resources and the other on Sustainability. The highlight of the HR session is an address by Dr. Vijay Govindarajan, one of the world’s leading experts on strategy and innovation and author of international best seller Ten Rules for Strategic Innovators. In line with the theme of this year’s Forum “Breaking through the crisis to pursue sustainable growth”,   Dr. Govindarajan’s special session on Wednesday afternoon will discuss “Leadership in an Era of Constant Change”. 
“Pursuing Sustainability in the Chemical Industry”, the breakout session on Thursday afternoon, will focus on the sustainability initiatives taken by the petrochemical and chemical industry as part of its long-term growth strategy. The four papers presented at the session will focus on three most important industry concerns today: the Responsible Care initiative, the role of plastics in driving sustainability, and carbon management. 
GPCA is giving great importance to the segment on plastics. “The role of plastics in driving sustainability” will be presented by Laurence Jones, Vice President, Corporate Support, Borouge, who will present the findings of a consumer survey commissioned by GPCA on plastics and address the need for recycling and waste management measures in the region. At a time of increasing anti-plastic sentiment in the region, GPCA wants to highlight the positive role played by plastics in the modern world.

About the Gulf Petrochemicals & Chemicals Association
Gulf Petrochemicals and Chemicals Association (GPCA), the first such industry association in the Middle East, has grown from strength to strength since its inception in March 2006, steering the regional industry towards a whole new era of co-operation. As the regions’ Petrochemicals and Chemicals Industry’s representative body, GPCA aims to enhance the role of the region in international debate and policy making to facilitate regional co-operation, and to ensure that growth is both sustainable and socially responsible. GPCA’s mission is to offer its members networking opportunities through various platforms to meet and share knowledge; exchange insights and expertise and advocate the development, growth and prosperity of the petrochemicals and chemicals industry and related businesses in the Gulf. Additional information is available at www.gpca.org.ae.
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