US exports to Gulf Arab oil producers surged to an all-time high of nearly $29 billion (Dh106.5bn) in 2007 as the dollar’s decline against other major currencies made American products more competitive, according to official figures.
US imports from the GCC, America’s main oil supplier, peaked at more than $40bn because of the surge in crude prices, the US Department of Commerce figures reveal.
The UAE became the largest Middle East market for American products after overtaking Saudi Arabia three years ago and its trade deficit with Washington has steadily widened in the absence of real growth in its exports to the US.
US exports to the GCC surged from around $24.5bn in 2006 to $28.9bn in 2007 - an increase of around 18 per cent. The 2007 exports were more than double their level of $11.9bn in 2004 and quadruple the exports of around $7bn in 2000.
Exports to Saudi Arabia formed the bulk of the increase in 2007. They surged from around $7.8bn in 2006 to $10.39bn in 2007.
Exports to Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait and Qatar grew slightly but exports to the UAE receded to $11.6 billion from $11.9 billion.
Yet the UAE remained the largest export market for the US in 2007 and this was at the expense of its balance of trade, which suffered from the largest deficit with the US in the Middle East, standing at around $10.27bn.
“The US is benefiting from the low dollar in its exports to other markets as the decline makes its products more appealing in terms of prices,” said Malick Yunus, an economist at the Saudi National Commercial Bank.
Vehicles accounted for a large proportion of US exports to the GCC, rising to around $5.68bn in 2007 from $5.18bn in 2006. Aircraft export value dropped to $4.86bn from $6.32bn while electric machinery and related products increased to $2.2bn from around $1.5bn.
The figures showed US imports from the GCC states also jumped to a record $77.7bn in 2007 from $69.9bn in 2006 because of higher crude prices, which averaged around $70 last year compared.
Oil imports alone surged to $40.19bn from $35.99bn and the bulk of the crude was supplied by Saudi Arabia, with a value of $34.9bn in 2007.
US exports to GCC hit record in 2007 on weak dollar