Indian and Chinese trade with Africa is fueling the UAE’s role as a major infrastructural hub within the MENA region. With an estimated 60 per cent of China’s international trade passing through the UAE, the Emirates play a major role in the fostering economic growth and expansion throughout not only the UAE, but the greater MENA area and beyond. While trade with India is growing slowly, as with China the UAE’s role is morphing into that of a trans shipment center, were Indian trade is shipped through the Emirate’s ports.
The UAE’s role as an infrastructural hub is well established, the Emirate’s trade with India and China continues to grow. A recent report by China Daily stated that Chinese-UAE trade was expected to reach $16 billion this year, making China the UAE’s second largest trade partner, behind India, with the UAE importing mainly electronics and mechanical tools and devices while exporting copper, plastic and iron. Indian trade with the Middle East grew by 3 per cent, a significant slowdown, caused mainly by the falling appeal of Indian jewelry.
With Jebel Ali’s position as the largest port in the Middle East, the UAE’s role as facilitator of African trade has never been more important. A high proportion of both Indian and Chinese trade to the continent flows through Jebel Ali and marks a significant change in the UAE’s regional role with the Emirates moving from importer to facilitator. With the UAE’s recent commitment to supporting China’s Silk Road projects, the Emirates play an important role in the export of Chinese goods to a number of markets, predominantly those of Europe, Africa and the GCC. With regard to the Indian-MENA trade route, some analysts have claimed that the corridor could potentially become more valuable than link between the EU and the US, to the tune of $3 trillion by 2030, with the UAE sitting at the heart this flow there are opportunities to be had.