The main growth in imports of wire and cable into North Africa over 2006 and 2007 has been for Tunisia and Morocco. Much of the import growth for these two countries is associated with the growth in auto harness production, and there has also been high growth in cable harness exports from these countries over this period. There has not been such consistently strong growth in cable imports into the other countries of North Africa over this period. However, these imports are likely to be understated, as the analysis in the graph from Q1 06 to Q207 is based on exports under HS code 8544 reported by trading partner countries in the GTIS database. This does not include imports from countries within the region that are not covered by GTIS (only Turkey?s trade is covered), so total cable imports for a country like Sudan, which has strong trading links with Egypt and Saudi Arabia, are likely to be higher than suggested by the graph.
Over the last two years there has been very strong growth in imports of wire and cable into the countries of the Gulf & Arabian Peninsula. Though there has been growth in several countries of this region, by far the strongest contribution to the total has been in imports into the UAE and Saudi Arabia. The analysis shown on the graph does not include imports from other countries of the region, which are not covered by the GTIS trade database. There has also been strong growth in trade between countries within the region, e.g. cable exports from the UAE to Saudi Arabia, so total cable imports are likely to be higher than shown in the graph. Growth in imports into the UAE has been particularly strong, driven by the boom in infrastructure spending. This growth has continued into 2008, with no sign of a slowdown. In addition to the growth in imported cables, production within the region has been ramping up quickly.
In the Near East region there has also been growth in wire and cable imports over the last two years, but nearly all this import growth is due to a single country, Turkey. Much of this growth in Turkish cable imports has been due to increased activity in production of OEM goods within Turkey, mainly items using cable that are assembled for export to other markets, taking advantage of low labour costs in Turkey.
In value terms, cable exports from the MENA region are dominated by three countries: Turkey, Morocco and Tunisia. In the case of Morocco and Tunisia virtually all these exports are in the form of cable harnesses. Production of cable harnesses in Turkey has also been increasing, but the Turkish industry is also active in exporting a wide range of cables, particularly to some markets of Western Europe, such as the UK and Belgium.
Auto harness production is well-established in some parts of North Africa and in Turkey. In Europe the global shift in auto harness manufacture to low cost locations has resulted in a shift of production from countries of Western Europe (e.g. Portugal) to Eastern Europe and to North Africa. Many operations have been established in export processing zones, where materials can be imported duty-free, then exported as assemblies. There are already several operations in Tunisia and Morocco, but the next developing centre for auto harness production may be Egypt. An Egyptian company, Idaco, produces harnesses and Cofat (part of the Tunisian Elloumi group) has assembly operations in Egypt, but SEI is also now establishing a harness assembly operation at Port Said, starting production in August 2009. In support of its harness operations, SEI is also building a new auto cable production facility in Morocco, to be completed by 2011. SEI has said that it will switch some production of harnesses from other facilities in Eastern Europe to North Africa, since it can no longer secure low cost workers in Eastern Europe!