Stronger demand for American products because of the weakening dollar boosted United States exports to the GCC by nearly $6 billion (Dh22bn) in the first nine months of 2008, according to official US figures.
But a surge in crude prices sharply pushed up US imports from the Gulf and more than doubled its trade balance deficit with the 28-year-old alliance, said the US Department of Commerce.
The figures showed the UAE remained the largest GCC market for US products while Saudi Arabia maintained its position as the top exporter to the largest economy and oil consumer in the world. From about $18.79bn in the first nine months of 2007, US exports to the GCC soared to $24.72bn in the same period of last year, the figures showed. But growth in its imports from the Gulf was far higher as they jumped from about $29.85bn to nearly $52.48bn in the same period.
Exports to the UAE leaped from about $7.98bn to a record $10.91bn to maintain its position as the largest GCC market for US products. Saudi Arabia ranked second, with imports from the US rising from about $6.5bn to $8.51bn in the same period. There were also increases in US exports to the remaining GCC members.
"I think the increase in US exports to the GCC was mainly due to higher demand because of the weakening dollar in 2007 and the first half of 2008. The GCC's imports from other countries also increased but this could be attributed to lower exchange rates of Gulf currencies because of their peg to the dollar," said an economist at an Abu Dhabi bank.
The figures showed Saudi Arabia's exports to the US shot up by nearly $20bn from about $24.47bn in the first three quarters of 2007 to about $44.23bn in the same period of 2008.