UAE non-oil foreign trade up 27% in first half of 2021

Staff Report/Dubai
Filed on October 13, 2021
National non-oil exports rose 44 per cent during the first half of the year. — File photo

The UAE on Wednesday said that non-oil foreign trade rose by 27 per cent in the first half of 2021 to Dh900 billion ($245 billion), state news agency WAM reported on Wednesday.

National non-oil exports rose 44 per cent during the first half of the year, with gold exports up 48 per cent year-on-year basis to more than Dh70 billion.

The first half of 2021 data indicated a rapid recovery in the country’s non-oil foreign trade and its return to growth trajectory. This also indicates a six per cent growth in the country’s non-oil foreign trade compared to the pre-pandemic level in 2019.

According to preliminary data released by the Ministry of Economy, the total value of the country’s non-oil foreign trade amounted to nearly Dh900 billion during the January-June 2021 period. The value of non-oil exports alone amounted to Dh170 billion during this period, posting a growth of 44 per cent compared to the first half of 2020 and 41 per cent compared to the same period in 2019.

The contribution of non-oil exports to the country’s total non-oil foreign trade during the same period (first half of 2021) grew to 19 per cent from 16.6 per cent in 2020 and 14.2 per cent in 2019.

Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of State for Foreign Trade, said that the non-oil foreign trade data for the first half of 2021 reveals a significant and promising growth in the total volume of trade over the past two years, despite the pandemic’s impact on the global trade movement.

Furthermore, significant growth in non-oil exports is a clear indication of the rapid recovery and the return to the growth trajectory and the overall growth in the country’s foreign trade movement in general and in promoting national non-oil exports particularly.

“These indicators confirm the efficiency of the forward-looking vision and proactive plans implemented by the UAE under the guidance and support of its wise leadership to deal with the pandemic’s impact on the foreign trade sector. It shows the country’s success in developing flexible, open and long-term policies to maintain the attractiveness of its trade and business environment,” Al Zeyoudi added.

The minister said these efforts consolidate the UAE’s position as a leading and competitive trade hub connecting the East and West and a major player in ensuring the continuity and growth of global supply chains.

"What we see today is a testament to the success of our efforts in this direction. The latest figures confirm the distinguished position of the UAE as a vital regional and global trade hub and an influential player that contributes to reshaping the global trade landscape to make it more flexible and sustainable with the aim of restoring the pace of activity and growth in the post-Covid era," he said.

Al Zeyoudi added that the country’s promising foreign trade figures coincide with the launch of the ‘Projects of 50,’ which was recently announced by the UAE government to contribute to enhancing country’s trade performance during the next stage. It includes qualitative and strategic initiatives such as comprehensive economic agreements with a number of targeted global markets, and the 10×10 export development program designed to provide an additional incentive to strengthen the UAE’s comprehensive economic and trade partnerships with countries around the world continuously discover new trade markets for the UAE.

“In light of these integrated and pioneering efforts, we expect the country’s non-oil foreign trade to continue its positive performance during the remaining months of the year,” the minister said.

An analytical study by the Ministry of Economy on the preliminary data of non-oil foreign trade activities revealed that the value of UAE’s gold exports exceeded Dh70 billion in first half of 2021. It shows a growth of 48 per cent compared to first half of 2020, while the rest of the non-oil exports except gold totalled Dh98 billion with a growth of 42 per cent compared to H1 2020 and 20 per cent compared to H1 2019. It also revealed that 87 per cent of the country’s non-oil exports are locally made and that 13 per cent come from free zones and customs warehouses.

Gold, ornaments and jewelry; aluminium; plastics, copper and articles thereof; iron and steel and articles thereof; are the five most important non-oil exports of the country. Their total value witnessed a growth of 50 per cent in the first half of 2021 compared to the first half of 2020, and 47.4 per cent compared to the same period in 2019.

Re-exports, which totaled Dh238 billion in the H1 2021, witnessed a growth of 22 per cent compared to the same period in 2020. Furthermore, 46 per cent of the re-exports are from the local market and 54 per cent from free zones.

The total value of imports during the same period exceeded Dh482 billion indicating a growth of 24 per cent compared to H1 2020 and three per cent compared to H1 2019. Up to 66 per cent of the imports go to the local market and 34 per cent to free zones and customs warehouses.

The study conducted by the Ministry further indicated that with regard to the total non-oil trade of the country, 65 per cent of it is with the local market, while free zones and customs warehouses account for the remaining 35 per cent. The study also showed that 46 per cent of this trade takes place by air, 35 per cent by sea, and 20 per cent by land.

The country’s non-oil trade significantly grew with the five fastest growing economies in the first half of 2021 compared to the same period in 2020. These are China, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Turkey and Italy.

Meanwhile, the country’s top five export destinations during the same comparison period include India, Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong, Kuwait and China. The UAE’s top re-export partners include Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Egypt.


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