During the first five months of 2011, Dubai's direct trade increased by 27 per cent despite regional unrest affecting certain markets, a study by Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry has found.
Dubai Chamber's members exports and re-exports increased by 17.1 per cent in the first eight months of this year, with goods valuing Dh162.1 billion, in contrast with Dh138.4bn during the same period in 2010.
The study indicated that there was some affect to Dubai's exports and re-exports to certain key markets in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region, but these did not significantly impact the emirate's overall export and re-export figures.
Total exports and re-exports to Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Syria, and Tunisia reached Dh14.6bn in 2009, slowing by 4.4 per cent to Dh13.9bn the following year due to the effects of the global financial crisis.
Despite economic forecasts for the region pointed to growth in Dubai exports and re-exports in 2011, yet political unrest has stalled increases to these countries, the study found.
In Egypt, exports and re-exports to the country have slowed in 2011 due to brief political unrest at the start of the year. The total value of goods transported to the country from Dubai dropped by 12 per cent to Dh1.5bn during the first four months, compared to the same period in 2010, according to the study.
Likewise, unrest in Tunisia, which also did not last long, nonetheless stunted growth in exports and re-exports in the first four months of the year, which was insignificant at less than one per cent. This paled in comparison to the growth of 22 per cent between 2009 and 2010, the study found.
On the other hand, the escalation of unrest in Libya and Yemen has taken a more significant toll on exports and re-exports to these countries. The first four months of the year witnessed a 58 per cent drop in the flow of goods to Libya, while a corresponding contraction of 43 per cent was noted in the flow of goods to Yemen.
Dubai's exports and re-exports to these five Mena countries between 2007 and 2010 reflected the general pattern of the global economy.
From 2007, trade with Egypt expanded, slowing down only in 2009 with the global financial crisis. During this time growth of Dubai exports and re-exports was swift, increasing from Dh622 million in 2007 to almost AED 1 billion in 2010, the Dubai Chamber study found.
Libya likewise was expanding rapidly and had not been affected negatively by the global crisis. Dubai exports and re-exports to Libya increased from Dh253m in 2007 to Dh506m in 2010.
On the other hand, exports and re-exports to Syria declined, from Dh194m in 2007 to Dh129m in 2010. Meanwhile, Yemen was a stable destination, with the value of goods flowing to the country hovering around the Dh500m mark.
Tunisia, while a relatively much smaller market for Dubai's exports and re- exports, was stable during this time, dipping slightly in 2009. The value of goods flowing from Dubai to the country recovered in 2010 to a value of Dh24m, the study found.
Re-exports of machinery slows down in 2011 political unrest in the Mena generally started in urban centres, directly affecting commercial and industrial activities. This has led to the slowing down in demand for machinery and mechanical appliances.
According to the study, Dubai's exports and re-exports of these products to Egypt during the first four months of 2011 represented a decline of 14 per cent to Dh806m. The decline was steeper in Libya at 55 per cent to Dh268m, while in Yemen the drop was 43 per cent to Dh159m.
In Egypt, demand for mineral products (excluding crude oil) from Dubai contracted by 21 per cent to Dh123m. On the other hand, Dubai's exports and re- exports of chemicals and foodstuffs to the country rose by 27 per cent and 79 per cent respectively.
The flow of goods from Dubai to Libya during this period has generally narrowed. Libya's imports of vehicles from Dubai during the first four months of the year represented a contraction of 62 per cent to Dh100m. Mineral products dropped by 68 per cent to Dh34m and chemicals fell by 42 per cent to Dh26m. Together, these product groups accounted for 83 per cent of the total value of goods that flowed from Dubai into Libya during the four-month period.
In Tunisia, except for demand for base metals and articles of base metals from Dubai which declined, other major products increased. Dubai's exports and re- export of machinery and mechanical appliances rose by two per cent to Dh53m, mineral products increased by four per cent to Dh20m, and vehicles grew by 14 per cent to Dh14m.
Yemen saw declines of exports and re-exports of machinery and mechanical appliances, as well as the flow of wood and articles of wood from Dubai, which contracted by 71 per cent to Dh116m. The value of goods in these two groups accounted for 46 per cent of Dubai's total exports and re-exports to Yemen. On the other hand, increases were noted in the value of mineral products, which rose by 18 per cent to Dh75m; chemicals, which increased by 18 per cent to Dh41m; and live animals and animal products, which were up by 49 per cent to Dh41m.
On the other hand the economic development programmes in countries under new regimes are expected to spur growth in trade to fill the need for raw materials, machinery and vehicles, the study concluded.