x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

UAE tops US imports table

The UAE has emerged as the biggest importer of US goods in the Arab world last year. despite a decline in trade value.

The UAE has emerged as the biggest importer of US goods in the Arab world last year. That is despite the trade value having declined by 16 per cent, to US$12.1 billion (Dh44.44bn) as the global downturn dampened demand for US vehicles, machinery and components. US car exports to the UAE declined by 57 per cent while aerospace sales surged 19 per cent, led by Boeing aircraft deliveries to Emirates Airline, Etihad Airways and flydubai, the budget airline. The data was released by the US department of commerce.

"Sectors that depend heavily on consumer spending - like automobiles, jewellery, and residential construction - took a hit as shoppers around the world cut back on purchases," said David Hamod, the president and chief executive of the National US-Arab Chamber of Commerce (NUSACC), which is based in Washington. "In contrast, the 'big ticket' infrastructure projects driven by massive development in Abu Dhabi - like water, oil and gas, and power - ensured healthy growth in most industrial sectors. The same holds true for certain hi-tech sectors, including computers and aircraft."

However, the decline was one of the smallest among the US's trading partners, said Danny Sebright, the president of the US-UAE Business Council, also based in Washington. "Many countries in the top 25 dropped by as much as 30 to 40 per cent from the previous year," he said. "The UAE's 16 per cent drop was in the top five as far as smallest percentage drops from 2008 to 2009. Only China, the UK and India was smaller."

The UAE was the 19th-largest trading partner with the US last year, while Saudi Arabia was 20th, importing $10.8bn of goods, a 13.5 per cent decline from the year before. Israel came in 22nd with $9.5bn. Residential and commercial construction declined, while sales of industrial engines were up 45 per cent for the year to $476 million on the back of growing water, gas and power projects, Mr Hamod said. Computer sales also gained 33 per cent to $286m as critical corporate spending on information technology grew.

This year, UAE imports should rebound with a 13 per cent increase, NUSACC forecasts. "Much of this will revolve around continued growth in infrastructure projects. In the same spirit we anticipate that, as consumer spending around the world creeps back up, trading hubs like Dubai will stage a gradual comeback," Mr Hamod said. igale@thenational.ae