UAE's non-oil foreign trade hits a record $338bn in first half

Exports to the country's top 10 key trading partners rose by 22 per cent during the period

The UAE's non-oil foreign trade is expected to exceed Dh2.5 trillion this year. Wam
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The UAE's non-oil foreign trade hit a record Dh1.24 trillion ($337.6 billion) in the first half of 2023, up 14.4 per cent year on year, as the country's non-oil exports during the period exceeded the annual level recorded five years ago.

The country's non-oil exports with its top 10 most important trading partners rose by 22 per cent in the first six months of this year, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, said on Wednesday.

“Our non-oil foreign trade will exceed Dh2.5 trillion this year … and we will achieve the target we announced of Dh4 trillion by 2031,” he said on X, formerly known as Twitter.

“Intra-regional trade with Turkey, for example, grew 87 per cent in just one year, indicating the effectiveness of our balanced, proactive and positive foreign policies.”

Sheikh Mohammed said that 2023 will be the “best year in the country's history” in terms of the economy.

“The UAE will remain a major player in international trade, maintaining its position as a bridge linking the East with the West, and the North with the South," he said.

Overall, non-oil exports grew by 11.9 per cent annually to Dh205 billion in the first six months of the year, which was more than the full-year levels recorded in 2017, Dr Thani Al Zeyoudi, Minister of State for Foreign Trade, said in separately on Wednesday.

The country's non-oil exports topped Dh200 billion for the first time in the half-year period, underscoring the competitiveness of its manufacturing and services sectors, he said.

Non-oil exports contributed 16.6 per cent to the UAE's total foreign trade in the first half of 2023, compared with about 14.2 per cent during the same period in 2019.

The total value of the UAE's re-exports hit a record Dh341 billion, up 9.9 per cent on the first half of 2022, the government's media office said on Wednesday.

Imports increased 17.5 per cent annually to Dh693 billion, it said.

“These results bode well for our economy. Trade means opportunity and innovation, investments and entrepreneurship, industrial productivity and food security,” Dr Al Zeyoudi said.

The UAE has placed trade “front and centre” of its national growth agenda and is committed to reaching new milestones in the coming months and years.

“There’s definitely more to come. As we sign more comprehensive economic partnership agreements and expand our network of trade partners, we will achieve new milestones – and deliver more growth, more investment and more opportunity for the UAE,” Dr Al Zeyoudi said.

China remained the UAE’s top global trading partner, followed by India, the US, Saudi Arabia and Turkey in the top five, the government said.

Rounding off the top 10 are Iraq, Switzerland, Japan, Hong Kong and Russia.

The UAE's top 10 trading partners recorded an increase in non-oil trade, with a combined growth of 16.7 per cent, while the rest of the markets accounted for growth of 12.4 per cent.

Turkey had one of the highest annual growth rates in the first half of 2023, at 87.4 per cent, with its share of the UAE's total non-oil foreign trade increasing to 4 per cent.

Gold, aluminum, oil, cigarettes, copper wires, jewellery and aluminum topped the list of the UAE's top exports.

Gold exports registered the highest growth in the first half of 2023, up 40.7 per cent to Dh218.3 billion.

The contribution of gold exports to the UAE’s non-oil foreign trade was 17.6 per cent, compared with 14.3 per cent in the same period in 2022.

The Arab world's second-largest economy has signed a series of Cepas with countries such as India, Israel, Turkey and Indonesia.

The country is further working towards signing 26 Cepas as it seeks to attract more investment.

The UAE’s non-oil foreign trade reached a record Dh2.23 trillion last year, an annual increase of 17 per cent as the country adopts various measures to strengthen economic relations with existing and new trade partners around the globe as part of its economic diversification plans.

It was the first time the UAE’s non-oil foreign trade crossed the Dh2 trillion mark.

Trade is also set to receive a boost after the Brics bloc – comprising Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – invited the UAE and other countries including Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Iran, Ethiopia and Argentina to join the group this month.

UAE and Saudi Arabia among six countries invited to join Brics

UAE and Saudi Arabia among six countries invited to join Brics

Minister of Economy Abdullah bin Touq told Bloomberg TV on Monday that Brics membership was “huge for the UAE”.

“That will add a lot as well to the UAE's multilateralism support to the world. We will … [be] focusing on our global trade, as the UAE has always been as a global [trade] hub,” Mr bin Touq said.

“Our Cepa agreements, [such as the ones] with India with Indonesia … we're looking at going to [the] Global South. That's the most important aspect where we are focusing at the moment.”

“Anybody that is connected with the UAE on the bilateral trade, we will look at how can we grow the trade by 10-folds.”

It is positive that the UAE will be part of an “expanding group that includes the largest emerging market economies, especially given its position as a global trading and services hub”, Monica Malik, chief economist at Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, told The National last week.

Updated: August 30, 2023, 12:24 PM