Dubai's nine-month non-oil foreign trade rises 6% to Dh1 trillion

Gold was the top-traded commodity in the first three quarters of 2019, followed by mobile phones

A terminal tractor passes in front 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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Dubai's non-oil foreign trade surged 6 per cent year-on-year in the first nine months of 2019 to Dh1.02 trillion, boosted by the contributions from the emirate's free zones, as China remains its top trading partner.

The value of exports from Dubai, the commercial and trading hub of the Middle East, rose by 23 per cent to Dh118 billion, re-exports grew 4 per cent to Dh312bn, and imports climbed 3 per cent to Dh589bn, the UAE's state-run news agency Wam reported on Saturday, citing official data.

Nine-month trade volumes also surged 22 per cent to 83 million tonnes during the nine-month period. The volume of re-exports jumped 48 per cent to reach 13 million tonnes, while volume of exports rose 47 per cent to 14 million tonnes and imports grew 13 per cent to 56 million tonnes.

"The strong performance of Dubai’s foreign trade reflects the robust fundamentals of our economy and prepares us to take advantage of the new opportunities that will come in 2020 – the year that will mark a new push for transformational growth over the next 50 years,"  Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of Dubai Executive Council, said. "We are confident our external trade sector will continue its strong growth momentum."

The UAE and China, which accounted for 16 per cent of the UAE’s non-oil trade among Asian countries in 2018, are strengthening their bilateral trade relationship. China, the world’s second-biggest economy, was the source of 27 per cent of the UAE’s imports from Asia, while the UAE is also the biggest recipient of Chinese goods in the Arab world, accounting for 29 per cent of exports to the region, the UAE Economy Minister Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansouri said in July.

China remained Dubai’s largest trading partner in the nine-month period, contributing Dh109bn, a 6 per cent increase, according to Wam report. India took the second spot with Dh100bn, a growth of 16 per cent, followed by the US with Dh57bn and Switzerland with Dh47bn. Saudi Arabia remained Dubai’s largest Arab trade partner. The country was its fifth-biggest partner globally with Dh42bn worth of trade.

Gold was the top-traded commodity, contributing Dh129bn and growing 17 per cent. The second-highest traded commodity by value was mobile phones, which climbed 7 per cent to reach Dh119bn. Diamonds accounted for Dh63bn worth of trade for the emirate.

Dubai’s foreign trade out of free zones was a "big contributor" to the overall increase, accounting for Dh439bn, or a 11 per cent  rise year-on-year.

"The strong growth delivered by non-oil foreign trade is a sign of how resilient the Dubai economy is," Sultan bin Sulayem, DP World chairman who also heads the Ports, Customs and Free Zone Corporation, said. "It also reflects Dubai’s success in developing its manufacturing facilities."

The government is working on fast-tracking trade growth through initiatives such as the Dubai Silk Road project and a virtual trade zone that will boost the development of e-commerce regionally and globally, Sheikh Hamdan said.