The UAE overtook Saudi Arabia to become the largest Arab exporter of goods and services in 2009 but the kingdom could be back on top in 2010, official figures showed yesterday.
Despite a decline of $63 billion (Dh231.2bn) in its export value last year compared with 2008, the UAE was ahead of all Arab nations in export of goods and services, which stood at around $201.9bn in 2009, said the Kuwaiti-based Inter-Arab Investment Guarantee Corporation (IAGIC).
It was the first time that the UAE overtook Saudi Arabia as the Arab World's largest exporter although it was already on the top of Arab importers.
Saudi Arabia's exports were estimated at around $201.6bn in 2009, far lower than its 2008 exports of about $323bn.
The decline was a result of a sharp drop in crude prices and a cut of nearly one million barrels per day in the kingdom's oil production.
The UAE was also the largest Arab importer in 2009, with a total import value of around $196.9bn.
A large part of the imports were destined for Dubai, the Gulf's main re-export and non-oil trading hub.
Forecasts by IAGIC, a key Arab League financial establishment, showed the UAE's exports would climb to around $228bn in 2010 because of an expected increase in oil prices and the country's crude output.
Its imports are also projected to swell to a record $205.6bn, indicating an upsurge in business and a recovery in the domestic economy. Saudi Arabia's exports are forecast to surge to nearly $251.6bn and imports to around $183.9bn in 2009.
As for the other members of the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC), the report showed Kuwait, another major oil producer, was the third-largest exporter in the group in 2009, with a value of around $66.8bn. The report projected them to swell to nearly $825bn in 2010.
Qatar, the world's largest LNG supplier, came fourth, with export standing at around $60.2bn in 2009. IAIGC expected the level to jump to around $82.5bn in 2010 due to higher oil and LNG output.
Exports by non-Opec Oman stood at $28.1bn in 2009 and those by Bahrain, which has little oil, at $15.6bn. As a whole, the GCC's exports of goods and services totalled nearly $574.3bn in 2009, while imports stood at about $478.2bn. Exports and imports were projected to rise to $704.6bn and $516.3bn respectively in 2010.
The sharp decline in exports in 2009 over the previous year reduced the combined GCC current account surplus to about 4.3 per cent of the gross domestic product from a record 26 per cent in 2008.
But the report expected the surplus to rebound to nearly 14.2 per cent in 2010.
A breakdown showed the surplus in 2009 stood at 29.4 per cent in Kuwait, around 10.8 per cent in Qatar, 4.1 per cent in Saudi Arabia, and 3.7 per cent in Bahrain. The balance recorded a deficit of 1.6 per cent in the UAE and 0.5 per cent in Oman.
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