KHALEEJ TIMES, Tuesday, Apr 17, 2018 | Shaaban 1, 1439
UAE top Arab, world's 15th largest exporter
The UAE's investor-friendly and free trade
policies, establishment of new free zones and state-of-the-art infrastructure
are paying rich dividends as the country's trade grows.
According to the World Trade Organisation, the UAE, which leads the Arab world,
moved up 4 places to become 15th largest exporter in the world, surpassing
Russia, Spain and Switzerland.
The UAE also progressed by 1 place in imports, to occupy the 18th position
internationally. In total, official figures revealed that the UAE's foreign
trade reached Dh1.7 trillion last year.
As per the WTO's International Trade Statistics in 2017, the UAE occupied the
21st position internationally and first in the Arab world in service exports and
17th position internationally and first in the Arab region in service imports.
In 2017, the UAE achieved a growth rate of 20.4 per cent in exports, considering
that the global figure during the same period was 10.7 per cent, while the
Middle East achieved a rate of 18 per cent. The UAE's growth figures is the
highest among the top 15 international exporters.
Regarding imports, the UAE's import of goods decreased in 2017 by 1.1 per cent
compared to 2016, while the world's imports increased by 10.7 per cent and the
Middle East by 1.1 per cent.
Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansouri, Minister of Economy, said the trade growth rates
reported by the WTO reflect the UAE's position in the regional and international
He pointed out that UAE's trade volume growth reflects the continuous national
efforts over the past years to build up a dynamic foreign trade sector based on
the UAE's efforts at building a multilateral trading system.
Hamad Buamim, President and CEO, Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said
there are several factors that are supporting the growth of UAE's non-oil
foreign trade at the moment, including a rebound in global economic growth led
by emerging markets, renewed commitment from top trading partners such as India
and China to boosting exports and economic cooperation, increased economic
diversification, improving business confidence and steady infrastructure
spending in the lead up to Expo 2020.
"Dubai accounts for a majority of the UAE's non-oil foreign trade as it has
strengthened its position and appeal as a preferred re-export hub and global
centre for trade and commerce. In recent years, Dubai has forged stronger
relations with emerging markets across Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the
Commonwealth of Independent States," he said.
According to the WTO report, the UAE has maintained its position among the
world's top 20 exporters, right from 2007 until today, and is also the first
among Arab countries since 2013. The UAE accounts for 2 per cent of the world's
total merchandise exports in 2017 compared to 1.7 per cent in 2016, and 1.5 per
cent of the world's merchandise imports for 2017, as against 1.4 per cent of
world commodity imports for 2016.
The WTO data showed that the UAE also achieved growth in its service exports in
2017 of 7.5 per cent compared to 2016, valued at $70 billion (Dh257 billion), as
well as in its service imports by 1.9 per cent during the same period, valued at
$84 billion (Dh308.3 billion). Global service exports increased 7.4 per cent,
while global service imports increased 6.5 per cent during the same period.
In order to make Dubai and the UAE more competitive, Department of Economic
Development in Dubai announced four new initiatives to stimulate and increase
investments. The initiatives focus on retail cost reduction, local production
and procurement support programme, attracting investment in research and
development, and creating new opportunities for companies that rely on
knowledge, innovation and digital technologies.
According to Dubai Chamber president and COE Buamim, gold, diamonds and
jewellery continue to dominate UAE exports, along with aluminium and metals.
Imports to the country are currently led by gold, diamonds, machinery and
transport equipment, he said, adding that the UAE greatly benefits from its
position as a re-export hub for food products, which are transported to the
country and delivered to surrounding markets across the GCC.
Buamim said these trends are likely to continue given the UAE's fast-growing
population, rising consumer demand, ongoing development and infrastructure plans
tied to Expo 2020, and steady flow of visitors to the UAE which continues to
increase every year.
"In addition, we have seen the UAE sign several strategic cooperation agreements
with developing and emerging markets with the aim of expanding economic
cooperation and increasing trade and investment flows in key sectors and areas,
while the government has also introduced measures to ease of visa restrictions.
These measures will pave the way for stronger trade partnerships and sustainable
economic growth," he added.
According to Anurag Chaturvedi, partner, Crowe Horwath, international players
look for three critical factor to choose hub for trade which includes ease of
doing business, efficient logistics and swift banking.
"UAE government has made significant advancements in these area ranging from
easy and quick business establishment which takes one working day, smart and
hassle-free banking at door step to logistics parks such as Jafza, Kizad with 6
airports connecting every part of the world. The UAE leads the region in trading
in commodities, tourism and hospitality and re-export of goods."
Suresh Panwar, chairman, the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (Abu
Dhabi chapter), said that in additional to hydrocarbon sector and related
industries, low tax regime and 100 per cent ownership in the free zones along
with travel and tourism sector played a very vital role in UAE achieving high
ranking in international trade.
"I believe that this ranking can be further improved by allowing 100 per cent
foreign ownership in the mainland companies and implementing the
bankruptcy-related laws. Recent focus on innovation and transformation to a
knowledge-based economy will certainly help in further improving the ratings."
Nimish Makvana, ex-chairman ICAI (Dubai chapter) and partner at Crowe Horwath
UAE, said strategic geopolitical location between developed and emerging markets
business and strategic offices of Dubai Chambers in Africa has helped boost
UAE's foreign trade.