Kochi is the first city in the world to be selected by the zone to ascertain investment opportunities.

V. Sajeev Kumar

Kochi, Sept. 29

CONSIDERING the growth in the shipping industry worldwide, the UAE-based Hamriyah Free Zone Authority (HFZA), Sharjah, is setting up a new maritime city in the zone for marine and maritime-related industries.

The development of the maritime city is a long-term proposal and is being implemented in phases. The estimated investment for the project in the first phase, which is expected to commence in four months, will be $80 million, said Dr Rashid Al Leem, Director General of the zone. The investment for the second phase would be decided later.

Dr Al Leem, who was here to participate in the three-day International Boat Show (beginning on Friday), said that India is a major source of investments in the marine sector and the authority is expecting 30 per cent of its first-phase investment from the country.

Kochi is the first city in the world to be selected by the zone to conduct an interactive session to ascertain investment opportunities. The decision to select Kochi was taken in view of the region's connection with various Gulf nations and also the historical business relations, he said. Apart from Kochi, another such drive to woo investors will be conducted in Mumbai in December. He said that 30 countries, including Japan, Singapore and Saudi Arabia, would be in the list to conduct the marketing drive.

The growth of the shipping industry, he said, is constantly on the rise, especially in West Asia, and HFZA is proposing to be the most cost-effective maritime city in the region, thus expanding and forming a bridge between overseas and regional maritime companies.

HFZA had identified four core sectors for the development of its maritime city in the areas of marine services, dry-docking, shipbuilding, designing and ship repair and maintenance, Dr Al Leem said.

The facilities of the zone include a 14-metre-deep water port to accommodate dedicated petrochemical bulk-handling, LPG, two general cargo berths, and a two-container terminal. It offers a 100 per cent tax-free environment, company ownership, exemption from all levies and repatriation of capital and profits.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated September 30, 2005)
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