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Florida port service could increase Saudi non-oil exports

Jacksonville Port in Florida. A new container service connecting the port to Jeddha could improve Saudi exports Alamy via Reuters
Jacksonville Port in Florida. A new container service connecting the port to Jeddha could improve Saudi exports
  • Non-oil exports up 4.4%
  • New service links Florida to Jeddah
  • China biggest trade partner

Saudi Arabia’s exports are set to improve following the introduction of a new container service that will link Jeddah with Florida.

Non-oil exports rose 4.4 percent year on year in February while production cuts led oil exports to slip to 77 percent of the total, the government said.

Jacksonville Port Authority (Jaxport) in Florida said that Japanese shipper Ocean Network Express will launch its new West India North America container service in May. This will connect Jaxport with Jeddah and ports in Pakistan, India, Spain and Egypt. 

Jaxport said commodities on the service will include perishable food items, as well as retail goods and electronics.

Jeddah, Damietta in Egypt and Algeciras in Spain will serve as major trans-shipment hubs in the Mediterranean and the Middle East. 

For Saudi Arabia’s current exports, chemical products were the main non-oil export, covering 25 percent of the total, although this was down 21 percent on the year before, the General Authority for Statistics said. Plastics, rubber and their products covered 24.1 percent, an 8.3 percent increase. 

China was the main destination, taking 13.2 percent of total exports, followed by India at 9.9 percent and Japan at 9 percent. 

China was also the main importer to Saudi Arabia, constituting 19.9 percent of the total, followed by the United States at 8 percent and India at 7 percent. 

Saudi Arabia’s non-oil economy accounted for 50 percent of GDP in 2023 for the first time, the government said in March. The economy as a whole contracted 0.8 percent in 2023 as a result of oil output cuts – both led by Opec+ and voluntary – that were an effort to push up oil prices. 

Container volumes at Saudi Arabia’s ports were also up in March compared to the year before, despite the continuing attacks on shipping in the Red Sea, data from the kingdom’s ports authority Mawani showed.

Middle East goods export volumes, which include oil and gas, will expand 3.5 percent this year, the World Trade Organization said this month, adding that disruptions to Red Sea maritime trade are proving less severe than feared.

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