Dube TradePort Corporation has secured two major multimillion-rand deals that represent significant early milestones in delivering on its development goal of attracting investment and boosting KwaZulu-Natal’s global exports.
It has secured a E900 000 (R10.6 million) annual contract to export the Curcuma alismatifolia (Thai tulip) cut flowers, grown at its cutting edge AgriZone facility, to Holland and the US.
In another deal, Dube TradePort signed an agreement with Durban-based Reelin Bearings that will see the company investing about R70m in a new plant, which represents the first manufacturing investment attracted to the future Special Economic Zone (SEZ) near King Shaka International Airport.
Both deals were sealed late last year and revealed in the December edition of Dube TradePort’s in-house publication, Dube Times.
This follows its first private sector deal secured in May last year when Durban-based Shree Property Group signed a massive R300m deal with plans to develop a mega warehouse and distribution facility with Dube TradePort’s TradeZone.
The two latest deals come in the wake of the departure of former chief executive Rohan Persad and other executives. Persad resigned in August following graft allegations.
“The past 12 months have proved pivotal in the development of Dube TradePort as the heart of Africa’s first purpose-built ‘aerotropolis’,” acting chief executive Ayesha Swalah said in Dube Times.
Swalah said Shree Property Group’s decision was a clear indicator to the business community that Dube TradePort was a great place to invest and to conduct business.
“This was borne out by the fact that in October we secured a second major Dube TradeZone investment. Reelin Bearings signed a R35m deal to build one of the world’s most sophisticated bearing manufacturing and refurbishment facilities.”
Reelin Bearings had also secured an adjoining site, earmarked for expansion in the future expected to be a further R35m investment.
“The Dube AgriZone, too, has been active. Having achieved great success with the growing and provision of tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers, Dube AgriZone has diversified its cultivation activities and, most importantly, has secured an export contract for cut flowers,” said Swalah.
“Thai tulips are now being grown in one of our facility’s greenhouses by Carmel Nurseries, working in partnership with KP Holland, producing some 30 000 flowers for export to Amsterdam every week for a six-month period, being the Dutch off-season,” she added.
Responding to questions from The Mercury, Mlibo Bantwini, Dube TradePort’s AgriZone executive, said this first international contract was “significant” and was worth E900 000 a year.
“This contract will increase the reputation of the AgriZone as a good source of perishable produce and potentially increase air cargo from the region… It is early days. Five export shipments have taken place. This will be increased significantly over the next few months. One has been to the US and the rest have been to the Netherlands,” said Bantwini.
He said the Thai tulips were the main cut flower being grown in the AgriZone’s 40 000m2 greenhouse for cut flower production. A number of other cut flowers and pot plants were under cultivation.
“One of the considerations Dube TradePort gave for a tenant for the facility, was a company that could export some of the produce. Carmel Nurseries (an old South African horticulture firm that previously had operations in Gauteng) had a working relationship with KP Holland and other international companies. KP Holland is one of the leading plant breeders and cut flower producers in Netherlands with operations in countries such as Brazil, Uganda and China,” said Bantwini.
“The aim is to focus on the KP Holland contract and service it well before venturing into other markets… Other markets targeted in future include the rest of the EU and the Middle East.”
Bantwini said the cut flowers were transported via the Emirates flight to Dubai. From Dubai they were transported to Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam.
Asked about export plans for vegetables grown at the AgriZone, he said negotiations were still under way regarding possible export to the Middle East. Product samples had been received favourably, but nothing had been finalised yet.
Speaking on the Reelin Bearings deal, Dube TradePort’s TradeZone executive, Hamish Erskine, said: “The deal is exceptionally significant as it maintains momentum of investment in the TradeZone, as well as attracting our first manufacturing company and another high profile, well-respected company.”
He said that to increase airfreight out of Durban, Dube TradePort had always envisioned attracting manufacturing companies and distributors of high value goods.
“The TradeZone is a specialised air freight and logistics orientated zone and is well-suited to be incorporated into a broader special economic zone,” added Erskine.
He said Reelin Bearings’ plans for the initial phase of construction had been submitted to Dube TradePort and construction was expected to commence by the end of April. With the development and moving of their facilities to Dube TradePort, Reelin Bearings was going to be opening markets into Africa.