Steep rise in UAE aluminium exports to Japan

Japan boosts trade balance with UAE as oil price drops but aluminium exports get a boost as Emirates bolsters industry to diversify.

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The UAE’s exports of aluminium to Japan rose more than 41 per cent last year, making it the largest supplier of the metal from the Arabian Gulf last year, according to the latest trade figures from Jetro Dubai.

Overall two-way trade between the two countries, however, rose a marginal 0.54 per cent to $51.29 billion last year from $51.01bn in 2013. Japan’s exports to the UAE gained 12 per cent in 2014 and imports fell slightly amid a price in the drop of crude.

Japan bought $730.9 million worth of aluminium from the UAE in 2014, versus $517m the previous year.

The metal has been at the forefront of the UAE’s efforts to diversify its economy from being overly reliant on hydrocarbons.

That has become especially urgent after crude oil lost half its value last year amid an increase in supply from North America and waning demand from emerging markets such as China.

The value, however, of Japanese aluminium imports from the UAE may decline next year if the price of the precious metal continues to slip.

The price of aluminium traded in London has dropped 2.3 per cent this year amid an increase in production from China.

Still, overall the value of total Japanese imports from the UAE dropped to $41.78bn last year from $42.52bn in 2013, with the lion’s share, $31.97bn, going to buy crude oil versus $33.28bn in 2013.

Meanwhile, Japanese exports to the UAE gained about 12 per cent to $9.5bn compared with $8.49bn in 2013, boosted by a 31 per cent increase in passenger car sales, which cost the UAE a total of $3.39bn.

While crude oil prices declined in 2014, the US dollar, to which the UAE dirham is pegged, gained against most of the world’s currencies last year, and that allowed the country to import more for less from countries such as Japan.

Japan is the UAE’s biggest export partner, constituting 17.1 per cent of the value of all exports, while it is the fifth biggest source of imports after India, China, the United States and Germany, according to statistics on a government website.

The Japanese have also been ramping up their ties with the UAE to produce other metals. Senaat, the state-owned Abu Dhabi-based holding corporation, said last month it has entered a joint venture with two Japanese steel makers to build steel pipes for industrial use.

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