x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Dubai exports break the barrier

Figures show a surge in Saudi demand boosts the total past Dh50bn.

Dubai exports broke the Dh50 billion (US$13.6bn) barrier in the first quarter of the year, as a surge in demand from Saudi Arabia spurred a trade revival. March saw the biggest rise in exports from the emirate's Chamber of Commerce and Industry members, with volumes climbing by 22 per cent to Dh18.7bn, compared with the same month last year.

"There was a big jump in activity in March," said Marietta Morada, the data development manager at the chamber. "Saudi Arabia is improving and has become the biggest market, overtaking Iran." The figures provide further signs of strengthening demand for the emirate's goods and services as regional and global economies regain momentum after the downturn. March was the third month in a row that exports from members of the chamber rose.

Gross volumes from the operational terminals of DP World grew 15 per cent in the first quarter of this year compared with the same period last year, the ports operator said last week. Trade is expected to be an important driver of the emirate's economy this year as prospects for its property and construction sectors remain bleak. The emirate's central geographic position between Asia and Africa means it is also well placed to service re-exports of products ranging from steel and cement to refrigerators and mobile phones.

Led by an economic rebound in the Far East, world trade is expected to expand by 9.5 per cent this year, the World Trade Organisation forecasts. The number of exports from the Dubai chamber's members rose 15 per cent to Dh50.7bn in the first quarter compared with the fourth quarter of last year. It issued 153,332 certificates of origin in the first quarter, 7 per cent more than the same period last year.

"This is more evidence of a recovery in Dubai and a global recovery that Dubai is geared into," said Tudor Allin-Khan, the chief economist at HC Brokerage in Dubai. "It shows the investments Dubai has made in building its infrastructure have been worthwhile, irrespective of its debt problems." Sultan al Mansouri, the Minister of Economy, said last week he expected improving shipment volumes in the country and globally to help sustain the UAE's growth in the next three to six months.

UAE traders were found to be the most optimistic about expanding trade in an international survey conducted by HSBC. Confidence among local companies about the trade outlook increased more than in the other two main re-export centres of Singapore and Hong Kong, results from HSBC's semi-annual trade confidence index, released on Monday, showed. tarnold@thenational.ae