UAE: Dubai's foreign trade grows 10% in Q1, says Sheikh Hamdan

Dubai - Dubai's foreign trade grew to Dh354.4 billion, an increase when compared to the same period in 2020.

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Photo: Dubai Media Office
Photo: Dubai Media Office

Muzaffar Rizvi

Published: Sat 12 Jun 2021, 12:45 PM

Last updated: Sat 12 Jun 2021, 8:39 PM

Dubai’s economy has once again proved its resilience and ability to recover quickly from the global repercussions of the Covid-19 pandemic by achieving double-digit growth in external non-oil trade during the first quarter of 2021.

Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Dubai Crown Prince and Chairman of The Executive Council of Dubai, disclosed that Dubai’s foreign trade surged 10 per cent during the January-March 2021 quarter and reached at Dh354.4 billion compared to Dh323 billion in the same period last year.

Dubai’s first-quarter external trade rose five per cent if compared to same quarter in 2019, reflecting a rapid return to recovery and an ability to adapt to drastic changes in the international trade environment.

“His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid laid the foundations of a strong economy characterised by flexibility and the ability to deal efficiently with the surrounding variables to transform crises into opportunities,” Sheikh Hamdan tweeted.

Exports grew 25 per cent to Dh50.5 billion, representing a volume of five million tonnes or a rise of 20 per cent during the quarter while imports accounted for Dh204.8 billion, showing a growth of nine per cent. Moreover, the value of re-exports up 5.5 per cent and reached at Dh99 billion.

“Dubai's quick and thoughtful measures, including economic stimulus packages, continue to prove their feasibility by accelerating recovery rates... The results confirm that we are transcending the exceptional stage with creative thought and effective alternatives that helped to achieve the goals set within various sectors,” Sheikh Hamdan said in another tweet.

External trade impressive resilience

Later in a statement, Sheikh Hamdan said this remarkable performance reflects “our external trade sector’s impressive resilience” and its ability to rebound and grow in the face of major international crises.

“Inspired by the vision and directives of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, we have always turned challenges into opportunities. We have been able to achieve this by virtue of our good governance, advanced infrastructure, strategic location, our status as a regional and global hub for trade, and the generous stimulus packages that the government has launched in support of trade and businesses,” Sheikh Hamdan said.

“This remarkable growth will get us closer to the ambitious target of Dubai’s five-year strategy to raise the value of external trade to Dh2 trillion and consolidate its position as a bridge connecting regional and international markets by constantly enhancing its infrastructure and logistics services.

“Furthermore, by hosting Expo 2020, ‘the world’s greatest show’, Dubai will make a significant contribution to the recovery of the global economy and help it move towards prosperity again,” he added.

Dubai leads global trade

Sultan bin Sulayem, DP World Group chairman and CEO and Chairman of Ports, Customs and Free Zone Corporation, said Dubai recovered quickly from the repercussions of the current global crisis and has resiliently grown its trade, spurred by its strong investments and advanced technological capabilities, which enabled it to continue its global trading activities during what has been a testing time.

He said the impressive success of the vaccination campaign in the UAE has created high levels of global confidence in the country and helped Dubai add to its profile as the city with the world’s most favourable business environment.

“We lead the way in connecting the east with west and north with south through a number of leading global projects including the World Logistics Passport, which Dubai launched to facilitate international trade exchange and build a global logistics network. The initiative provides economic advantages to member countries like Indonesia, India, Thailand, South Africa and Brazil, among others,” Bin Sulayem said.

He said big international shipping firms have also joined the World Logistics Passport to benefit from the 100+ features it provides.

“Enhancements to the initiative were announced at the recent virtual summit of the World Logistics Passport held in Dubai on June 8, 2021,” he added.

Direct trade dominates

According to official data, direct trade surged 15 per cent during the quarter and reached at Dh217 billion while trade through free zones rose two per cent to Dh135 billion Customs warehouse trade weighed in at Dh2.3 billion, reflecting a growth of 23 per cent.

Airborne trade accounted for Dh179 billion, showing an increase of 15 per cent. Sea trade rose three per cent and reached at Dh120 billion while land trade increased by seven per cent to Dh55.3 billion.

China top trading partner

China maintained its position as Dubai’s largest trading partner in January-March quarter with Dh44 billion worth of trade, representing a growth of 30 per cent.

India came in second with Dh35 billion, reflecting a growth of 17 per cent. The USA secured third place with Dh15.4 billion trade.

Saudi Arabia continued to be Dubai’s largest Gulf and Arab trade partner and its fourth largest global trade partner with Dh14.7 billion worth of trade, growing 20 per cent.

Turkey was the fifth largest trading partner with Dh12 billion, representing a staggering growth of 72 per cent.

Gold top commodity

Gold topped the list of commodities in Dubai's first-quarter external trade at Dh63 billion, reflecting a growth of 27 per cent. Telecoms secured second position and surged 32 per cent at Dh50 billion; diamonds registered a record growth of 61 per cent and came third in the list with Dh29 billion; followed by jewellery with Dh17 billion; and vehicle trade at Dh14billion.

Bin Sulayem said Dubai has enhanced its vital role in global trade by regularly hosting international trade events. These include the fifth WCO Global AEO Conference, which Dubai Customs organised in cooperation with the World Customs Organization and the Federal Customs Authority. The Conference saw the participation of about 100 renowned speakers, and more than 12,000 experts from 160 countries.

More growth is set to be generated with Dubai preparing to host Expo 2020. Dubai Customs is offering an improved set of facilities and services specifically designed for Expo exhibitors.

Experts, business leaders hail remarkable growth

Saad Maniar, senior partner of Crowe in DIFC, said the level of confidence and trust in the UAE government is high due to the way in which pandemic situation was managed.

“The UAE's safe environment along with its beautiful infrastructure also played a vital role in the growth story. The UAE's ability to give 360 degree experience in comparison to many other developed countries is the key to its success.”

Atik Munshi, managing partner at Enterprise House, said Dubai has tackled the Covid-19 challenge in a different and headlong way.

“The economic stimulus packages, the effective and efficient vaccination drives, stream lining of business procedures, long-term visa and other positive measures have boosted the confidence of business and thus an increase in foreign trade compared to previous year is an obvious outcome,” Munshi told Khaleej Times on Saturday.

“Dubai has become a favored destination for investors as it has proven to be the best place to be in this Covid situation. The phenomenal increase in real estate transactions is proof of this,” he added.

Dubai an international trading hub

Shailesh Dash, a Dubai-based entrepreneur and financier, said Dubai has led the way to stage a strong economic recovery after the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Dubai has emerged as an International trading hub due to its strategic location, visionary leadership, ease of doing business, investor-friendly environment and consistent economic policies. In addition to this, five stimulus packages worth Dh7.1 billion rolled out by Dubai since the start of the pandemic has played an instrumental role in restoring investor or businessman cofidence in the emirate’s economy,” Dash told Khaleej Times on Saturday.

Muhammad Nafees, chartered accountant and vice-president at Pakistan Business Council, Dubai, said Dubai holds a prominent position in the Middle East and Asia because of its excellent infrastructure, investor-friendly environment and ease of doing business policies.

“Businesses set up facilities is unmatchable. It’s role in foreign trade is growing every year. Dubai foreign trade will grow further once the world trade start resuming to normal level,” he said.

“Dubai is also embarking on signing free trade agreements with its main trading countries as was mentioned by Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of State for Foreign Trade, UAE Economy Ministry.

Dubai a role model for others

Kamal Vachani, group director and partner at Almaya Group, said Dubai continues to be a role model for how economies should function.

“On all fronts, the emirate has proven time and again that it is ready to take on any challenge, and is ready to adopt proactively. This is all thanks to the Dubai government’s leadership, which ensured that the economic engine keeps humming. I look forward to an even stronger future ahead where businesses will thrive like never before,” Vachani said.

Nimish Makvana, past chairman of The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (Dubai) – Chapter NPIO, Dubai's foreign trade grows 10 per cent in first quarter and this itself speaks about strong visionary leadership of Dubai and efficient management of Covid-19.

“We have witnessed across the globe unprecedented time since beginning of 2020 due to Covid-19 and various measures and initiatives taken by the leadership around the globe. The quick measures introduced by the government accelerated recovery with strong confidence of business houses in UAE and International trade players around the world,” Makvana said.

He said high levels of external non-oil trade increase in January-March 2021 quarter will keep boosting economy further towards growth only in times to come.

“Dubai is known for proactive and result-oriented actions always due to unmatchable infrastructure, strategic locations, and key preferred trade hub for the region and globally. With few months to go for Expo 2020 and such encouraging and promising growth of foreign trade will bring confidence of business community for Dubai,” he said.

Despite challenges of Covid-19, India stood strongly to No. 2 with Dh35 billion trade, reflecting a growth of 17 per cent is giving positive sign of growth only in remaining quarters of 2021 and after 2021 too.

“The initiatives and measurers to strengthen regulatory framework with introduction of various laws and regulations is key to attract global players to UAE and in particular to Dubai to take the advantage with participation in growing economy,” Makvana said.

Naveen Sharma, coveren, Accounting, Audit and Advisory Services Focus Group, said Dubai is reaping benefits of conducting one of the world's most extensive vaccination drive initially which has now become economically.

“It is no surprise that Dubai's foreign trade grew considerably when most of the world's economy is struggling. Dubai is the role model for the entire world. I am even more optimistic about the future as the city is preparing to welcome the visitors later this year to Expo 2020. I can say that good time ahead,” Sharma said.


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