The UAE's ambition of becoming a leading exporter is being hampered by developed economies dumping cheap goods in the country, says the chief executive of Dubai's Export Development Corporation (EDC).
But Dubai officials still expect the emirate's exports to reach a record high of between Dh57 billion (US$15.51bn) and Dh60bn this year.
"Our main objective is to place the UAE as one of the leading exporting countries in the world," Saed al Awadi, the chief executive of the EDC, said yesterday at the Second Exporters Forum in Dubai.
"Although this vision is still far fetched due to a major challenge posed by the dumping policy of some major industrial countries and with their long history in manufacturing that is hard to compete with, our Government is willing and able to overcome such challenges."
Mr al Awadi's comments represent the latest heightening of tensions in a simmering trade row between the GCC and other economies such as the EU about the level of support some exporters receive from their governments.
The spat has taken on greater seriousness as countries seek to use exports as a way of rekindling domestic economic growth after the global recession. Dumping refers to exporting goods to another country for below the actual cost of production, or selling internationally at a price lower than in the seller's home market.
EDC officials yesterday cited how meat producers in the UAE were being undercut by cheap exports from other regions.
Overseas producers were able to sell their meat more cheaply thanks to subsidies from their governments, they said.
Other products have been caught up in the dispute over recent months.
In October the EU began imposing protectionist tariffs on plastics imports from the UAE for five years after complaining that producers in the Emirates received unfair government subsidies.
Most of the complaints relating to plastics hinge on the extremely low prices that GCC producers pay for natural gas, the feedstock for producing a range of plastics and other petrochemicals.
But the industry argues the cost it pays for energy is higher than in other GCC states such as Saudi Arabia.
Despite the risks posed by the trade row, Dubai exports reached Dh50.3bn in the first nine months of the year, 37 per cent higher than the same period last year.
"We expect a dramatic increase in re-exports this year after a decline last year as trade coming through Dubai improves," said Dr Ashraf Mahate, the head of export market intelligence at EDC.
A 12 per cent decline in global trade last year meant the emirate's ports handled less onward trade.