UAE foreign trade jumped 25% last year despite global slowdown

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According to the senior trade officials, the flow of goods in the UAE last year hit record high of 25% to the tune of US$272.24 billion.

UAE’s undersecretary of the Ministry of Foreign Trade, Abdullah Al Saleh said that in the period, exports surged 36%, due to growing demand for the UAE goods including gold and plastics. He also said that last year’s increase in trade was driven by the country’s commercial links along with fastest growing economies of India, China, Singapore and Hong Kong.

“We are on the track of recovery, but growth is still positive. In 2009, we witnessed a drop in non-oil trade by 14% and recovery by 14% in 2010,” said Saleh.

The steep rise in the last year means the value of non-oil trade has passed the previous record of 2008 before global financial crisis hit demand for goods.

To diversify the UAE’s economy, Abu Dhabi has also raised the level of country’s non-oil trade, particularly exports.

“High commodity prices last year were also likely to play a part in the rise. Also the prices of various commodities, including gold and wheat, did rise in the first half of the year. UAE is the leading exporter of gold,” Khatija Haque, senior economist at Emirates NBD, said.

EUROZONE WOES

Meanwhile, officials are worried about the ties with the eurozone which is going through a turbulent time and accounts 20% of trade with the country. However, trade business with Germany, France, Belgium and Italy, which account 80% of total UAE trade, rose by 25%.

“The weakness of the euro against the US dollar contributed to the rise in the value of imports from the eurozone to the UAE falling from average annual growth of 35-40% to less than 30% last year,” Al Saleh explained.

UAE ECONOMY STRENGTH

According to Ahmed Butti Ahmed, executive chairman of the Ports, Custom and Free Zone Corporation and Dubai Custom Director General, the rise in trade percentage represents “the strength and firmness of the UAE’s economy”.

“Dubai’s direct trade with the world during the first five months of this year scored record rates if we look back at the same periods of the past five years. This reflects that Dubai has already overcome the financial crisis which stormed the international markets and still lingers,” he added.

Meanwhile, trade officials are expecting a modest growth in trade business this year because Asia has reported a steep growth in with strong demand for more goods.

Mr Saleh said he expects a steep growth in the trade percentage compared to last year. Saleh added: “Because the world economy has uncertainty, our expectations for 2012 is 15-20% growth for non-oil and non-free zone. There is an expectation in drop in euro-zone GDP and a drop in China and India’s GDP.”

Last year, between January and May, India gained biggest share of Dubai direct trade with the total trade exchange of over AED 87bn, which is 30% of total trade. With this high percentage India topped the list of import and export.

Sources: Arabian Business, The National

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