The Gulf Co-operation Council countries’ push to develop their small and medium enterprises (SME) sector has got a shot in the arm as a regional event is offering assistance to GCC nationals to explore business opportunities in the booming plastics industry.

In the past decade, the SMEs have played a key role in supporting GCC states’ GDP growth and offering employment opportunities to thousands of people. Yet, the regional plastics industry, which has clocked a double-digit growth rate in the recent past, can offer much better opportunities for SMEs, said a group of plastics industry experts who gathered in Sharjah ahead of a premier industry event, Plastivision Arabia 2014.

“The number of graduates passing out of our colleges and universities are increasing every year, and it is difficult for the government to provide all of them with employment. It is in this context that GCC governments are supporting and developing small and medium enterprises, resulting in SMEs contributing in a big way to GDP,” said Mr. Saif Mohammed Al Midfa, Director-General, Expo Centre Sharjah.

SMEs now play a major role in the GCC, accounting for 50 per cent of the GDP, while in the UAE, SMEs contribute over 60 per cent to the GDP and provide around 86 per cent of the employment in the private sector.

However, with 60 per cent of the region’s population under the age of 26 and unemployment at 40 per cent, regional governments are looking at further boosting their support to develop the SME sector.

“The UAE has recently enacted a law providing further support to SMEs, while other regional governments are also adopting measures to encourage nationals to enter the sector. The plastics industry, which thrives in the resource-rich region, can be the right launch pad for the enterprising national youth,” said Mr. Midfa.

He was addressing a press conference along with the partners and sponsors of Plastivision Arabia 2014. Those on the dais also included Dr. Asutosh Gor, President, All India Plastics Manufacturers Association and Mr. Jayesh Rambia, Chairman of Plastivision Arabia 2014 Committee of AIPMA.

As in the launch edition, the second Plastivision Arabia will be organized by Expo Centre Sharjah and All India Plastics Manufacturers’ Association (AIPMA), the oldest and the largest apex body of the plastic industry in India. It will be held at Expo Centre Sharjah from 7 to 10 April, 2014.

The regional plastics industry offers a relatively hassle-free business model, given that the region enjoys an advantage in two key components — feedstock and logistics. Feedstock cost is lower in the Gulf owing to its rich oil and gas reserves and the GCC’s closeness to demand clusters – specifically India and China – offers a significant logistic cost advantage.

“Plastics business is also less technology and capital intensive, which means that any layman can venture into plastics manufacturing with minimal investment and technological know-how. At Plastivision Arabia, experienced consultants from AIPMA will assist young entrepreneurs in establishing their plastic manufacturing units,” said Mr. Jayesh Rambia. He added that live display of machines at the show will provide first-hand understanding of technology and the necessary know-how to establish the plastic plant.

The launch edition of Plastivision Arabia in 2012 featured 150 exhibitors from 19 countries and attracted 7,000 visitors from 66 countries. It also had the distinction of seeing most live machines on display being sold.

Plastivision Arabia 2014 will be held along with Arabia Mold, in association DEMAT, the organizer of world-renowned EuroMold, the world’s leading fair for mold-making & tooling, design and application development.