The value of UAE’s non-oil trade with the rest of the world grew an annual 27 per cent in the first half of the year to Dh900 billion ($245bn) as the country's economy continues to recover from the impact of the pandemic on the back of its rapid vaccination programme and government stimulus measures. The uptick is 6 per cent higher than the first half of the year in 2019.
Non-oil exports from the Arab world’s second-largest economy grew an annual 44 per cent to Dh170bn, and 41 per cent higher than the first half of the year in 2019, state news agency Wam reported, citing preliminary data from the Ministry of Economy.
The contribution of non-oil exports to the UAE’s total non-oil foreign trade during the first half of 2021 grew to 19 per cent from 16.6 per cent in 2020 and 14.2 per cent in 2019.
Non-oil imports to the UAE grew an annual 24 per cent to about Dh482bn, and 3 per cent higher than the first half of the year in 2019. Re-exports from the country recorded an annual growth of 22 per cent to hit Dh238bn, according to Wam.
“These indicators confirm the efficiency of the forward-looking vision and proactive plans ... it shows the country’s success in developing flexible, open and long-term policies to maintain the attractiveness of its trade and business environment,” Thani bin Al Zeyoudi, Minister of State for Foreign Trade, said.
“These efforts consolidate the UAE’s position as a leading and competitive trade hub connecting the East and West and a major player in ensuring the continuity and growth of global supply chains.”
The UAE, the commercial and trading hub of the Middle East, maintained strong trade activity last year, despite the Covid-19 pandemic, which severely disrupted economic momentum and hampered global supply chains. The world economy, which slid into its deepest recession in 2020, has recovered and is expected to grow 5.9 per cent this year, according to the International Monetary Fund.
The volume of world merchandise trade, which slumped 5.3 per cent in 2020, is also rebounding from the collapse that bottomed out in the second quarter of last year. It is expected to grow 10.8 per cent in 2021, up from 8 per cent forecast in March, according to World Trade Organisation estimates.
The UAE’s top non-oil trading partners in the first half of 2021 were China, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Turkey and Italy. Meanwhile, the Emirates’ top five export destinations were India, Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong, Kuwait and China, and top re-export partners were Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Egypt, according to Wam.
The value of UAE’s gold exports grew an annual 48 per cent to exceed Dh70bn in the first half of 2021. About 87 per cent of the country’s non-oil exports are made locally, while 13 per cent come from free zones and customs warehouses.
Gold, ornaments and jewellery; aluminium; plastics, copper and articles thereof; iron and steel and articles thereof; are the UAE’s most important non-oil exports. Their total value saw an annual growth of 50 per cent in the first half of 2021, and 47.4 per cent compared with the same period in 2019, Wam said.
The local market accounts for 65 per cent of the UAE’s total non-oil trade, while free zones and customs warehouses account for the remaining 35 per cent. About 46 per cent of this trade takes place by air, 35 per cent by sea and 20 per cent by land, Wam reported.