Abu Dhabi Ports
Any tariff relief will be taken up on a case-to-case basis, according to a top Abu Dhabi Ports official. Image Credit: Gulf News Archive

Abu Dhabi: Abu Dhabi Ports would be willing to look at offering preferential tariffs to support companies that have had their economic activities disrupted by the COVID-19.

“Abu Dhabi Ports works continuously with our customers to make sure services are commercially well positioned,” said Robert Sutton during a webinar event. “In terms of specific incentives, that would be on a case-to-case basis - but we’re very happy to engage with customers in the spirit of partnership on those discussions.”

Abu Dhabi had set up a Dh550 million fund to support the export sector through its Exports Office, thus helping out cash-strapped overseas buyers of UAE products and the national companies that sell them.

China factor

Sutton poured cold water on prospects of businesses exiting China to set up supply chain bases elsewhere.

“I don’t expect an immediate reaction linked to COVID-19 - it’s just not feasible, Supply chains have been built around a China supply…, that will continue.

“Maybe to a lesser degree by [a few] percentage points, but largely it’s still a major sourcing and consumption point.”

Keep the automation running

Sutton said there would be a shift towards more automation of low-cost labour, with the current crisis highlighting how low cost services can be heavily disrupted.

“We’ll see a gradual realisation that low cost labour [and] low cost resources are perhaps not the silver bullet everybody through it was,” he added. “We’ll see the increased adoption of automation and robotics and the use of data across the supply chain.

“We see progressively the company move more and more towards an aggressive digitalisation and the use of data and technology, not only within the supply chain, but across its ports, its real estate [and] its marine business.”