The UAE’s non-oil foreign trade reached record levels of USD 136 billion in the first quarter of 2022, according to WAM, the UAE’s official news agency. The news comes as the UAE increasingly attempts to move away from its dependency on hydrocarbons.
The figures represent a 20% improvement over 2021 for the same period, according to data from the Federal Competitiveness and Statistics Centre, WAM claimed.
The Centre’s data also showed that trade volumes were up over 26% when compared to 2019, pre-pandemic figures.
According to WAM, The Federal Competitiveness and Statistics Centre noted that the figure was close to Dhs500bn mark for the first time in the country’s history.
Largest partners and leading sectors
The UAE’s largest trade partners were China, USD 15.5 billion, India, USD 12.58 billion, and Saudi Arabia, USD 8.85 billion, according to WAM.
Commodities led the way, with gold accounting for USD 22.9 billion, and diamonds at USD 10.89 billion. Telephone and communication devices (USD 10.07 billion), mineral oils (USD 6.7 billion), ornaments and jewelry (USD 5.72 billion) and cars (USD 5.31 billion) rounded out the top six sectors.
In 2021 the UAE’s non-oil foreign trade totaled approximately nearly USD 517 billion, a 27% increase compared to 2020, and 11% higher than 2019, according to official sources.
Non-oil exports in 2021 amounted to USD 96 billion, up 33.3% compared to 2020. The total value of the country’s imports during 2021 was approximately USD 517 billion, a growth of 23.8 per cent as compared to 2020.
The contribution of the non-oil sector to the UAE’s GDP amounted to 72.3% in 2021, up from 71.3% in the previous year.
Moves away from hydrocarbons
In order to further move away from a dependency on hydrocarbons, the UAE has been seeking economic agreements and in February signed a comprehensive economic partnership with India. The agreement is expected to boost trade from the current USD 60 billion to USD 100 billion in five years.
Bilateral trade between Dubai and Africa saw annual growth of 11.7% in 2020, reaching USD 50.7 billion, an increase from USD 45.4 billion in 2019. West Africa was Dubai’s major trading partner in 2020, with total trade value of USD 16.8 billion, surpassing both Northern and East Africa which have traditionally been Dubai’s leading African trade partners.