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UAE’s non-oil foreign trade hits record high of $159bn

Dr Thani Al Zeyoudi, UAE minister of state for foreign trade Creative Commons
Dr Thani Al Zeyoudi, UAE minister of state for foreign trade

The UAE’s non-oil foreign trade reached AED583 billion ($159 billion) in the third quarter of this year – a record in any financial quarter for the country. 

The figure represents an 11 percent increase on Q2 2022 and a 23 percent rise from the same period last year.

“Importantly, our Q3 exports hit AED97 billion – another quarterly record – to demonstrate the progress being made in our industrial, manufacturing and service sectors,” Dr Thani Al Zeyoudi, UAE minister of state for foreign trade, said in a post on LinkedIn

“These numbers come as the UAE continues to push forward with our #CEPA [comprehensive economic partnership agreement] agenda to cement deeper, stronger trade ties with key nations around the world. 

“In the coming weeks, our deals with Indonesia and Israel will come into force and negotiations with other major economies will conclude.​” 

The Ministry of Economy is also aiming to finalise Cepas with both Turkey and Colombia before the end of this year as well as targeting deals with Georgia, Cambodia, Kenya and Ukraine by the middle of next year, in order to boost bilateral trade and investments.

Growing foreign trade comprises a key pillar of the UAE’s plans to double the size of its economy to AED3 trillion, from AED1.4 trillion, by 2030.

China’s President Xi Jinping arrived in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday as the two countries look to build upon existing trade ties.

Asia House, an independent think tank and advisory service, said in a report published last month that it expects the UAE’s trade with China to overtake that with Western economies. 

It noted that the difference between UAE trade with China and with the US, the UK and the Europe combined is narrowing, and now stands at approximately $3.4 billion. In 2010, the difference was $28 billion. 

The UAE economy is set to grow by more than 6 percent this year, after expanding by 3.8 percent in 2021, propelled forward by a rebound in tourism, construction and activity related to the Expo 2020 Dubai, according to the IMF. 

UAE foreign trade is expected to reach AED2.2 trillion ($599.4 billion) by the end of 2022, constituting 15 percent growth over the AED1.9 trillion recorded at the end of 2021. 

Such growth would represent an impressive increase compared with the World Trade Organisation’s 3.5 percent growth expectation for global trade, 

“The UAE constitutes an exception in global trade and economy, it constitutes an exception in terms of services and infrastructure [and] it constitutes an exception in distinguished and stable international relations,” tweeted Sheikh Mohammed, vice president and prime minister of the UAE as well as the ruler of Dubai.

Overall, in the first nine months of 2022, the value of the UAE’s non-oil trade totalled AED1.637 trillion, representing an 18.9 percent rise on the same period in 2021 and 50 percent growth over the first nine months of 2020. 

Exports, meanwhile, reached AED275 billion and now account for over 17 percent of the country’s total trade, up from 11 percent just five years ago. ​
“Our trade agenda is delivering real, tangible benefits – and confirming our status as an international hub for commerce,” noted Dr ​Al Zeyoudi in his LinkedIn post.