x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

UAE's non-oil trade picks up by Dh54bn

Non-oil trade in the UAE has climbed to Dh540.5 billion in the first nine months of the year.

The Khorfakkan Container Terminal in Fujairah.
The Khorfakkan Container Terminal in Fujairah.

Stronger global commerce and an easing of the financial crisis helped to boost the UAE's non-oil trade by Dh54 billion (US$14.7bn) in the first nine months of the year, according to preliminary government statistics.

The 11 per cent increase to Dh540.5bn of trade comes amid a rebound in imports and exports globally. World trade volumes went up 9.8 per cent in the first three quarters of the year after falling by 14.5 per cent from the end of 2008 to the beginning of last year, according to an index from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

Healthier trade through the UAE's ports was driven by a "remarkable leap" in exports, said the Federal Customs Authority (FCA). Non-oil exports grew by 39 per cent in the first nine months compared with the same period last year, said the FCA.

Imports grew by a more muted 5 per cent, but they remain a much bigger part of non-oil trade than exports. The UAE imported goods and services worth Dh350.6bn in the first nine months, customs statistics show, compared with Dh61.8bn of non-oil exports. Re-exports, or goods exported to other countries immediately after they are brought into the UAE's ports, rose to about Dh128bn.

Non-oil trade volumes - and especially non-oil exports - are closely watched across the Gulf as a gauge of economic diversification and the health of the private sector. For the UAE, oil exports account for about 40 per cent of trade and GDP, according to IMF figures.

The FCA said this month that this year's rise in non-oil trade "reflects the extent of success achieved through the policies pursued by the wise government in abating the negative repercussions of the global economic crisis".

The 11 per cent rise in non-oil trade for the first nine months of the year was accompanied by an even stronger surge in September, the final month of the third quarter. Non-oil trade reached Dh62.9bn that month, up 26 per cent from a year before.

The top exporters to the UAE in September were India, China, the US, Japan and Germany, said the FCA. The top destinations for the UAE's non-oil exports were India, Switzerland, Brazil, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.

The most valuable import in September was gold, with Dh4.9bn of the metal brought in. The next most-valuable import was diamonds, worth Dh4.7bn, followed by cars, worth Dh2.1bn. Gold was also the most popular export in September, with Dh3.3bn. The biggest re-export was of diamonds, worth Dh5.7bn.

Dubai's ports handled most of the UAE's non-oil trade in the first three quarters of the year. The customs authority said this month that non-oil trade reached Dh425bn for the period, a 19 per cent rise from the same span last year and a five-year high.

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The IMF is currently projecting 2.4 per cent growth in economic output for the UAE overall this year, followed by 3.2 per cent next year.

 

afitch@thenational.ae