UAE's non-oil foreign trade reaches record $136bn in first quarter

China was the Emirates' largest trading partner in the January-March period

General view of a stock yard of DP World's fully automated Terminal 2 at Jebel Ali Port in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, December 27, 2018. Picture taken December 27, 2018. REUTERS/ Hamad I Mohammed
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The UAE’s non-oil foreign trade reached a record Dh499.7 billion ($136bn) in the first quarter of this year as the Arab world’s second-largest economy accelerates efforts to reduce its dependence on hydrocarbons.

Non-oil trade values for the first three months of the year were up more than 20 per cent compared to the same period last year, state news agency Wam reported on Wednesday, citing data from the Emirates’ Federal Competitiveness and Statistics Centre.

The figure is also up more than 26 per cent compared to the first quarter of 2019, surpassing pre-pandemic levels.

China, Asia's largest economy, was the UAE's top trading partner during the January-March period, with bilateral trade between the two countries at Dh57bn. It was followed by India (Dh46.2bn) and Saudi Arabia (Dh32.5bn).

The UAE has been taking several measures to boost non-oil foreign trade.

In March, Dr Thani Al Zeyoudi, Minister of State for Foreign Trade, said the country's non-oil trade totalled Dh16.1 trillion over the past 10 years.

The UAE's non-oil foreign trade also jumped 27 per cent in 2021 to Dh1.9tn, which was 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.

In February, the UAE signed a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement with India, Asia’s second-largest economy, that is expected to boost non-oil trade between the two countries to $100bn in five years, from $60bn currently. It is also in talks for similar agreements with South Korea and Indonesia.

In the first three months to March 31, gold was the top commodity in the UAE’s non-oil foreign trade, Wam reported.

Gold’s trade value stood at Dh84.4bn and it accounted for almost 17 per cent of total trade.

It was followed by diamonds (Dh40bn), telephone and communication devices (Dh37bn), mineral oils (Dh24.6bn), ornaments and jewellery (Dh21bn) and cars (Dh19.5bn).

Updated: May 25, 2022, 6:23 PM