UAE’s non-oil trade volume may grow 12.9% this year, Dubai Chamber says

Country’s non-oil maritime transport sector expected to recover in 2021, supported by positive global economic trends

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 trade volume could grow by up to 12.9 per cent this year, supported by an uptick in maritime transport activity and other positive global economic trends, the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry said on Saturday.

Global maritime transport and trade is expected to record 4.8 per cent growth this year, "depending on developments in fighting Covid-19 and progress in vaccinating populations around the world", the trade body said, citing data from the International Monetary Fund, the UAE’s Federal Customs Authority and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.

International maritime trade recorded a 4.1 per cent decline last year due to economic headwinds created by the pandemic, which included travel restrictions and the disruption of supply chains, consumption patterns and manufacturing activities.

The pandemic disrupted global trade and tipped the world economy into its deepest recession since the Great Depression. However, the IMF forecast in October that the global economy will grow 5.2 per cent this year after shrinking 4.4 per cent in 2020.

Other factors that could positively impact the UAE’s trade performance in 2021 compared to the prior year include government stimulus efforts, the easing of lockdowns in key markets, the reopening of global markets and the widespread resumption of commercial activity in China.

The UAE has rolled out economic support packages worth more than Dh388 billion since the coronavirus pandemic began.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, UAE Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, approved a Dh58bn federal ($15.79bn) budget for 2021. The planned expenditure for the Arab world’s second-largest economy is slightly lower than 2020’s budget of Dh61.35bn, the largest in the country’s history.

“The UAE economy will be among the fastest to recover in 2021,” Sheikh Mohammed said in November.

Data released by Unctad last week indicated a sharp fall in international trade by about 8 per cent last year, largely as a result of the pandemic. Global merchandise trade dropped 20 per cent at the height of movement restrictions in the second quarter, but "a slow recovery took hold in July and August, with a further improvement in September", when some major economies returned to growth on an annual basis, Unctad said.