The total trade volume in UAE free zones and markets grew 23 per cent Y-o-Y to approximately Dh352.8 billion in 2010, of which imports accounted for Dh201.4bn, while exports and re-exports reached AED 151.4bn.
The total UAE trade volume (non-oil foreign trade and free zones trade) amounted to nearly Dh1.1 trillion in 2010, of which imports hit Dh754.3bn, while exports and re-exports contributed Dh352.8bn.
The Federal Customs Authority (FCA) announced that the free zone trade data reflects the economic role played by those zones in national economy and international trade. Such zones help the UAE cement its trade relationships with non-GCC countries and contribute as well to taking the economic decisions required for boosting growth rates. The growth rate in the free zones trade reveals a rebound in economy and trade, and highlights the national economy's ability to lure foreign funds.
It also confirms that the UAE outshines as an ideal business environment.
The trade volume of free zones had been Dh286.6bn in 2009, with imports at Dh167.9bn and exports and re-exports at Dh118.7bn.
The FCA pointed out that in 2010, the total trade volume of free zones and markets in terms of weight reached about 24.2 million tons, including 15.2 million tons of imports, 9 million tons of exports and re-exports. Thus, the daily average weight of imported and exported shipments and consignments dealt with by the different free zones and markets amounted to about 101,000 tons per day on the basis of official working hours (8 hours for 5 days a week), with an average of 13,000 tons per hour.
China, India, the USA, Japan, South Korea, the UK, Malaysia, Germany, Switzerland and France respectively, were the leading exporters to the free zones last year with a total export value of Dh136.1bn, or 68 per cent of the total value of the UAE imports.
Regarding exports and re-exports Saudi Arabia, Iran, India, Iraq, Kuwait, Hong Kong, Qatar, Belgium, Egypt and Pakistan consecutively were on top with a gross value of Dh95.3bn, representing 63 per cent of the total UAE export and re-exports.
The exports of the UAE free zones to the GCC countries rose in 2010 compared to its imports, which means that GCC region is a key export destination for UAE free zones. In 2010, the trade volume with this region in terms of value amounted to almost Dh40.2bn, of which imports represented Dh6.4bn, compared to Dh33.8bn in exports.
According to the authority, Saudi Arabia was the leading trading partner among GCC countries with a trade volume of Dh24.6bn. It was followed by Kuwait (Dh5.8bn), Qatar (Dh4.5bn), Bahrain (Dh3bn), and Oman (Dh2.2bn).
The total foreign trade volume of the UAE with the Arab countries in terms of value amounted to Dh71.6bn in 2010, as compared to Dh55.6bn a year earlier. Imports increased from Dh4.6bn in 2009 to Dh7.7bn in 2010. Exports and re-exports rose to Dh63.9bn in 2010, from Dh51bn in 2009.
The FCA has revealed that phones topped the list of imports in the UAE free zones and markets last year, with a gross value of Dh24.5bn. They were followed by petroleum oils and processed mineral oils (Dh15.8bn), gold (C13.5bn), data processing devices, magnetic and optical readers (Dh13.4bn), diamond (Dh13bn), vehicles (Dh6.8bn) and monitors and projectors (Dh6.5bn).
The authority has further added that phones were the main exports in the UAE free zones and markets in 2010, with a gross value of Dh16.2bn, followed by petroleum oils and processed mineral oils (Dh15.3bn), data processing devices, magnetic and optical readers (Dh12.4bn), diamond (Dh12bn), monitors, projectors and TVs (Dh4.7bn) and vehicles (Dh3.9bn).
The FCA data is the second component of the UAE General Trade Database, as the other component is non-oil trade in UAE. The said database includes information about the imports and exports of UAE free zones and is developed in compliance with the applicable UN statistical standards.
The authority has lauded the efforts made by local customs authorities in collecting and revising the required data as per the criteria defined thereby. The authority has pointed out that statistics report will be issued annually at the beginning, then semi-annually and quarterly. The eventual target is to issue monthly reports, as is the case with the UAE non-oil trade database, to bolster economic-decision taking in public and private organisations.