Forget Singapore: Dubai to be trade hub
Advocates point to expanding port capacity and firms boosting trading operations, while critics lament lack of regulation and transparency and say some companies still favour Singapore and Europe.
September 28, 2010 4:23 by Reuters
Traders also cited as an issue the lack of a regulatory framework and levels of transparency that characterise mature trading hubs.
“Regulation is a problem. They don’t have an appropriate banking system in place to support oil and gas operations,” said Bhagwan Gawai, managing director of Saurabh Energy, a Dubai-based oil and gas trading company.
“It’s very difficult for trading companies to operate here. There is also little support from the government and a lack of infrastructure.”
Many traders, however, predict development would happen naturally as the trading houses increase their presence.
“Now almost everybody is here. Transparency will take time, the force of the market will overcome these elements. Money transactions can take place anywhere in the world, so transparency and regulation is not an issue. This will not keep the region from becoming a trading hub,” a trader said.
On balance, some analysts still believe the traditional model of keeping an office in Singapore and the other in Europe remains ideal and after that, China could be the future.
“If you have a trading operation in London or Geneva and Singapore to cover the Chinese market, do you really need to have one in the middle?” said Olivier Jakob, analyst at Swiss-based Petromatrix.
“The standard operating model is to have one trading hub in Europe and one in Singapore that is where the demand power for finance operations is coming from. The trend now is that companies are setting up small representative trading offices in China.”
(By Martina Fuchs and Amena Bakr. Editing by Barbara Lewis and Alison Birrane)