Saudi Arabia's non-oil exports up nearly 27% to $7.44bn in May

Growth was driven by chemicals and allied industries, followed by plastics and rubber products

A View shows the port and the city of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia taken on November 30, 2008. (Salah Malkawi/ The National)
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Saudi Arabia's non-oil exports grew nearly 27 per cent in May as the kingdom continued efforts to diversify its economy away from hydrocarbons.

Non-oil exports — including re-exports — increased to 27.9 billion Saudi riyals ($7.44bn) in May, compared with 22bn riyals during May 2021, according to data released on Monday by the General Authority for Statistics.

Growth was driven by products of the chemical and allied industries, which made up more than 35 per cent of total non-oil merchandise exports, followed by plastics and rubber products, which accounted for more than 31 per cent, government data showed.

Saudi Arabia's non-oil economy has continued to expand as the kingdom recovers from the coronavirus-induced slowdown.

New business in the country's non-oil private sector rose at the sharpest rate for eight months in June amid a rise in orders.

The headline seasonally-adjusted S&P Global Saudi Arabia Purchasing Managers’ Index rose to 57 in June from 55.7 in May, the highest reading since October 2021 and slightly above the survey’s long-run average of 56.8.

The International Monetary Fund estimates that the Saudi economy will expand 7.4 per cent this year, driven by higher oil revenue, a projected improvement in the country's non-oil gross domestic product and its efforts to diversify the economy.

Saudi Arabia's overall exports increased more than 83 per cent in May to 144.1bn riyals, up from 78.6bn riyals in the same month last year.

This increase was mainly driven by oil exports, which rose more than 105 per cent in the same period, the report said. The share of oil exports in total exports increased to 80.6 per cent in May, from 72 per cent in May 2021.

Meanwhile, the kingdom's imports increased nearly 22 per cent to 53.9bn riyals in May, from 44.2bn riyals in the same period last year.

The top imported goods were machinery, mechanical appliances, electrical equipment and transport equipment.

Overall, the kingdom recorded a trade surplus of 90.27bn riyals in May, more than double the 34.36bn riyals registered in May 2021.

China was the kingdom's main trading partner in May.

Saudi Arabia's exports to China amounted to 19.2bn riyals or 13.3 per cent of total exports. India and Japan followed next with 14.7bn riyals and 12.5bn riyals worth of exports, respectively.

South Korea, US, Egypt, UAE, Singapore, Taiwan and Bahrain rounded off the top 10 export destinations.

Meanwhile, the kingdom's imports from China amounted to 10.2bn riyals, or 18.9 per cent of total imports in May, followed by the US and UAE with 5.2bn riyals and 3.5bn riyals worth of imports, respectively.

India, Germany, Switzerland, Oman, Japan, Egypt and Italy rounded off the rankings for the top 10 countries for Saudi imports.

Updated: July 25, 2022, 1:17 PM