The UAE managed to export more goods to the world last year than in 2008 despite the impact of the global economic slowdown, the Federal Customs Authority (FCA) has revealed.
The total value of the UAE's non-oil foreign trade in 2009 amounted to Dh663 billion – consisting of imports worth Dh449.2bn, exports worth Dh66bn and re-exports worth Dh147.8bn.
In terms of weight, the total reached 80.5 million tonnes, of which 49.2 million tonnes were imports, 22.4 million tonnes were exports weight and 8.9 million tonnes were re-exports.
The overall value declined by 16 per cent from Dh788.7bn recorded the previous year as a result of the slowdown, said Khalid Ali Al Bostani, FCA's Acting Director-General. But he said the reduction was small compared with analysts' forecasts and the falls reported by many other countries.
And the decline affected imports and re-exports rather than exports, which increased in value by nine per cent from the Dh60bn recorded in 2008, according to customs data. Imports were down 29 per cent from the 2008 figure of Dh565.7bn while re-exports declined nine per cent from Dh163bn.
"The increase in the value of exports and decrease in the value of imports reflect the improved state of the trade balance over the previous year and indicate a growth in the competitiveness of the UAE's exports in global markets despite the consequences of the financial crisis," said Al Bostani.
The UAE's largest suppliers of imports last year were India, China, the US, Germany, Japan, the UK, South Korea, Italy, France, and Saudi Arabia, which together accounted for 64 per cent of the total. Major export markets included India, Switzerland, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Oman, Pakistan, Nigeria and Iraq. The main markets for re-exports were Iran, India, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Switzerland, Bahrain, Afghanistan and Hong Kong.
He said data for the period 2005 to 2009 reflected the development and growth of the UAE economy.
"The rate of growth of the value of foreign trade reached 86 per cent over this period. It rose from Dh355bn in 2005 to last year's Dh663bn, an increase of Dh308bn.
"The value of imports during the five-year period achieved growth rate of 82 per cent, rising from Dh247bn at the beginning to Dh449.2bn at the end, an increase of Dh202.2bn. The value of exports realised a significant growth rate of 310 per cent, rising from Dh16bn to Dh66bn, up Dh50bn.
"The value of re-exports increased by 60 per cent, reaching Dh147.8bn in 2009 compared with Dh92bn in 2005 – an increase of Dh55.8bn."
He said the figures reflected the important position occupied by the UAE on the world trade map and in the global economy. And he referred to the growing role played by the country as a leading trade gateway, not only for the Gulf but for other parts of the world including the countries of Asia and the Pacific, the Middle East and North Africa, Europe and Eastern and Southern Africa. "The geographical map of the UAE's foreign trade has widened to include 198 states, which means multiplicity of cultures, languages, regulations and customs procedures, as well as security risks."
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