UAE's non-oil foreign trade rises 27% in 2021 amid economic recovery

The rebound in trade showed the 'economy’s resilience', says UAE's Minister of State for Foreign Trade

DUBAI , UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – Oct 06 : Cargo containers at the Terminal 1 in Jebel Ali port in Dubai. ( Pawan Singh / The National ) For Business. Story by Frank Kane
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The UAE's non-oil foreign trade jumped 27 per cent annually in 2021 to reach Dh1.9 trillion ($517 billion) as the economic recovery in the Arab world's second-largest economy gained pace.

Non-oil foreign trade last year was also 11 per cent higher than pre-Covid levels in 2019, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, said in a tweet on Sunday.

"This rebound proves our economy’s resilience and underlines our status as a major international trade hub," said Dr Thani Al Zeyoudi, Minister of State for Foreign Trade, adding that the increase was a "record single-year leap".

"These results come in light of the launch of the Projects of the 50 and the continuous efforts being implemented by the country to enhance its position on the international trade map and ensure an attractive, active and open commercial environment to the world and linked to a diverse and strong network of global supply chains.

Non-oil foreign trade of all emirates registered a rise last year, the government said.

The UAE's economic recovery has been gaining momentum owing to the country's swift response to the Covid-19 pandemic and several macroeconomic policies that have accelerated a rise in activity in retail and tourism, according to a report by the International Monetary Fund.

The Washington-based fund estimates that the UAE's economy grew 2.2 per cent in 2021, driven by a 3.2 per cent expansion in the non-oil sector. It expects growth to accelerate to 3.5 per cent in 2022, with the non-oil economy expanding 3.4 per cent. The Central Bank of the UAE estimates the economy will grow 4.2 per cent in 2022, higher than a previous forecast of 3.8 per cent.

The UAE reported a 27 per cent jump in non-oil trade in the first half of 2021 to Dh900bn, according to figures released by Dubai Media Office.

The UAE has been following a proactive trade policy in an effort to revitalise growth post-pandemic. Last year, the country said it would seek economic agreements with eight countries, including South Korea, India and the UK.

It signed an agreement with India earlier this month that will see it increase non-oil trade with Asia’s third-largest economy to $100bn in five years, from $60bn currently. It has initiated talks on similar agreements with South Korea and Indonesia as well.

The value of national non-oil exports rose 33.3 per cent to Dh354bn, exceeding Dh300bn for the first time in its history. Meanwhile, it was up 47.3 per cent compared to that of 2019.

The total value of re-exports rose 27.7 per cent annually to Dh521.3bn and 1.6 per cent compared to 2019. Meanwhile, the total value of the country's imports jumped 23.8 per cent to about Dh1tn and about 7 per cent from 2019.

China was ranked as the country's largest trading partner in 2021, accounting for 11.7 per cent of the UAE's total foreign trade with the world.

The value of non-oil trade exchange between the two countries surged 27 per cent to Dh212bn and 19.8 per cent from 2019. India ranked second, accounting for 8.7 per cent of the country's total non-oil trade, with a value of Dh164.4bn, followed by Saudi Arabia in the third position with a contribution of Dh125bn.

Updated: February 27, 2022, 2:26 PM