China overtakes UAE as top Saudi export market

Trucks unload shipping containers from a cargo ship at Qingdao port in Qingdao, Shandong province. (REUTERS)

China has overtaken the UAE to become the largest market for Saudi Arabia’s non-oil exports while the Gulf Kingdom’s imports sharply declined in July because of lower global food prices, bank figures showed on Tuesday. 

Non-oil exports by the largest Arab economy increased by 19% Y/Y in July while imports declined by 17% Y/y, National Commercial Bank said. 

Exports related to petrochemicals and plastics maintained their dominant shares relative to other items, with 34% and 28%, respectively, reflecting their influential role and the favorable impact of higher oil prices, it said in its weekly report. 

On the other hand, the decline in imports emanated partly from the moderation in global food prices relative to last year and largely to the decline in volumes imported by 41%, said the report, sent to Emirates 24/7. 

“Interestingly, in the twelve months to July, China was able to displace UAE as the number one destination for the kingdom's exports, with its share rising from just 7.6% in July 2010 to 12% in July 2011, which underscore China’s growth story,” the report said. 

The other major trading partners on the export side included UAE (10%), Singapore (6%) and India (4%), reflecting the increased importance of Asian countries that attracts a significant 55% of non-oil exports. 

On the import side, the main partners included China (15%), US (12%), 

and Japan (7%), according to the report. 

“It is important to note that the medium-term outlook for non-oil exports will depend on the stability of oil prices as well as the status of a global economy facing significant headwinds.” 


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