The opening of the new Doha Port, scheduled for 2015, will drastically improve the situation for trade and imports to Qatar, according to a local expert who said that the new state-of-the-art facility would contribute towards the country’s development and its advance towards the National Vision of 2030. “The new port will have a substantial impact on the way ocean imports are handled in Qatar,” said Pentagon Freight Services general manager Pieter Fourie. “It will be much bigger so it will have increased capacity, reduce congestion, have new technology which will reduce vessel loading and off-loading time, will lower port costs, reduce manual handling and trailer-standing time and increase vessel turnaround time,” he said. “All in all, it will revolutionise international trade with Qatar.” The current location of the port causes a number of congestion issues and the restrictions on truck travel times throughout the city make transporting goods difficult. These problems will be resolved with the opening of the new port; however Fourie was unsure as to how the new facility would affect freight rates in the future. At the moment, costs incurred for companies shipping into and from Qatar are higher than other major ports because of supply and demand, equipment availability, vessel schedules and trans-shipment expenses. Large ports and major shipping routes have the advantage of economies of scale which leads to reduced expenses, meaning that if Qatar’s new port becomes a major hub similar to Jebel Ali in the UAE, then costs would decrease. However, the impact on prices remains to be seen. “There are so many factors that influence shipping rates but it basically comes down to supply and demand; the more cargo that has to move from one port to another, the better the economies of scale,” said Fourie, adding “major routes have bigger demands, thus fixed and semi-fixed costs are split between more containers; therefore reduced unit costs and the carriers can consequently offer lower shipping rates to customers.” He said: “With the port’s increased capacity, coupled with new technology, the infrastructure such as access roads and the advanced cargo-handling equipment, imports via the new port will certainly benefit all parties involved.” The new port located at Wakrah-Mesaieed is reported to cost about $7bn.