Mansouri: GDP set to accelerate next year

The UAE's economy would expand between 3 per cent and 3.5 per cent next year, thanks to higher oil prices and increased trade, says the Minister.

The UAE's GDP should grow faster next year thanks to higher oil prices and increased trade, says the Minister of Economy.

Sultan al Mansouri said yesterday that the economy would expand between 3 per cent and 3.5 per cent next year, an improvement from this year's anticipated rate of between 2 per cent and 3.2 per cent.

He said he was optimistic for the Emirates's economy next year but the performance would hinge on the oil price and issues in other global economies such as Europe and North America.

Early indications from the first six months of the year are positive, he said in Dubai, and pointed to the 12.5 per cent growth in the aviation sector over the first half of the year.

"The trade figures also increased," he said ahead of this week's World Economic Forum summit in the emirate. "We expect the GDP of the UAE to reach Dh1 trillion [US$272.27 billion] by the end of this year."

Last year was a difficult period for the Emirates and globally but this year the country made progress on many of the issues facing its domestic companies, including Amlak, Tamweel and Dubai World, Mr al Mansouri said.

"All the issues that we had to tackle, and they were challenging issues for us in 2009, have been solved or are almost at the end of the solution," he said.

Sami al Qamzi, the director general of the Dubai Economic Department, said Dubai was now on track.

"Today, it is fair to say that Dubai is on course for healthy growth," he said. "We have demonstrated to the national and international business community that we are committed to fostering a sustainable, growth-oriented environment by improving efficiency, transparency, credibility and accountability in governance and services."

One outstanding issue, however, is the ongoing row between the UAE and Canada over landing rights for Etihad Airways and Emirates Airline.

"There has been some statements made from the Canadian side, which were sometimes very fiery statements," Mr al Mansour said. "This is not the way relationships between two countries are handled."

Canada is a major trading partner for the UAE, with $1.5bn worth of annual trade between the two countries, 90 per cent of which are exports from Canada, said Mr al Mansouri.

The UAE had been pressing for daily flights for both Etihad and Emirates, each of which currently has three flights a week. Last month, after six years of negotiations, Canada said it would not grant those landing rights to the UAE, in part citing the potential loss of tens of thousands of domestic jobs.

Mr al Mansouri challenged that statement, saying the extra flights would actually create more jobs for the Canadian people.

"It has been estimated that each additional flight would produce up to $60 million annually in the Canadian economy," he said. "It would provide job opportunities for the Canadians."

Mr al Mansouri also addressed issues concerning another major trading partner, Iran.

Last week, the UAE Government told the UN it was implementing sanctions against Iran, including barring some Iranian ships from its ports and refusing some of its citizens entry to the country.

Mr al Mansouri said yesterday it would continue to trade with the Islamic republic but only to the extent permitted under the UN sanctions.

"Iran is a very, very important trading partner for us, historically and as a neighbour. We would always continue to trade with Iran, within the framework of the United Nations."