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MUSCAT: APM Terminals CEO Kim Fejfer says investment in infrastructure and the expansion of free trade zones are crucial to ensuring Oman remains a trade gateway to the Gulf region.

Speaking in Muscat, Fejfer said the country had an opportunity to develop integrated multimodal transport chains and to further develop world-class industrial parks and free zones near its maritime gateways: "By simplifying the business regulatory environment – Oman will attract even more entrepreneurs and capital that will reduce barriers to cross border trade," he stated.

Salalah11A current 20-year plan is developing Salalah (right) as a port hub with the construction of food processing, distribution and warehousing facilities, new terminals for liquid bulk storage and a direct rail network to link commercial centers in the Gulf Cooperation Council region.

At the same time, US$15 billion is budgeted to develop the port's FTZ to include chemicals and materials processing, manufacturing and assembly, plus logistics and distribution. A caustic soda facility and an LPG plant will be operational by the end of 2018.

Salalah, which is managed by APM Terminals, handled three million TEUs and 10.3 million tons of general cargo in 2014 – an increase of 30 percent over the previous year. An expansion of the port's general cargo capacity to 20 million tons of dry bulk commodities and more than 6 million tons of liquid products is already underway said Fejfer.

In a related announcement, APM Terminals Mumbai, a joint venture between APM Terminals and the Container Corporation of India, set a new record for Indian ports by handling 2.01 million TEUs during the 2014-15 fiscal year that ended March 31.

Part of the AP Moller-Maersk Group, APM Terminals had revenue of over US$4.45 billion in 2014.

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