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Revealed: UAE’s top 10 trading partners, leading imports and exports

by Staff Reporter
Published: Last Updated on
UAE’s top 10 trading partners and exports

The UAE has reached unprecedented heights in its non-oil foreign trade figures, surpassing Dhs3.5 trillion in 2023.

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubasaid: “Today we announce that the UAE non-oil foreign trade of goods and services, surpassed Dhs3.5 trillion in 2023 for the first time in the country’s economic history despite the global downturn in international trade movement according to reports by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.

UAE’s top 10 trading partners

In 2023, the UAE’s non-oil trade with its top 10 partners grew significantly.

Trade with Turkey, which contributed 5.1% to the total, grew by 103.7%, the highest among the top 10. This followed the September implementation of the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement between the two countries.

Other notable increases were with Hong Kong-China (47.9%), which now ranks eighth among the UAE’s top ten trading partners, the US (20.1%), and China (4.2%).

Trade with India, which has a similar agreement since May 2022, grew by 3.9%, accounting for over 7.6% of the total trade.

Non-oil exports to the top 10 partners grew by 26.9%, with Turkey accounting for nearly 60% of UAE’s exports in the last five months of 2023 – and underlining the impact of the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement which came into force in September. India was the second-largest recipient of UAE exports.

China remained the UAE’s leading trading partner, followed by India, the US, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey. The next five were Iraq, Switzerland, Hong Kong, Japan, and the Sultanate of Oman.

UAE leading goods exports

Gold, aluminum, oils, cigarettes, jewelry, copper wire and ethylene polymers topped the list of the country’s most important exports of goods.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid said: “We indicated at the beginning of 2023 that it would be a record economic year… The UAE has established new bridges of cooperation through comprehensive partnership agreements… Thus, our foreign trade with the top ten trading partners jumped by 26%… with Turkey by more than 103%… with Hong Kong-China by 47%… and with the USA by 20%.

“The UAE today lies at the heart of international trade movement… Our economic commitments to everyone continue.”

Challenges of global trade

The record growth of the country’s non-oil foreign trade coincided with a continuous increase in the value of non-oil exports in 2023, exceeding Dhs441 billion ($120bn), with a growth rate of 16.7% compared to 2022, and that 2023 exports more than double the exports in 2018 and are close to achieving double the exports of 2019, as they increased by 28% compared to 2021 as well as 66% compared to 2020, and by 84% compared to 2019.

The contribution of non-oil exports of goods to the country’s overall foreign trade increased to 17.1%, up from 14.1% in 2019 and 13% in 2018.

The record growth in both total foreign trade and non-oil exports was accompanied by a similar increase in re-exports, which hit Dhs690 billion ($188bn), a growth of 6.9% compared to 2022 and a growth rate of 27.7% compared to 2021. Re-exports continued their upward trend of growth over the recent years, excepting 2020, which is considered an exceptional year due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the accompanying closures around the world.

UAE’s imports

Imports also increased to Dhs1.4 trillion ($380bn), a growth of 14.2% compared to 2022. The top 10 imported commodities achieved a growth of 20.9% in 2023 compared to 2022, and the rest of the commodities grew by 6.3%. The most important imported commodities are gold, telephones, petroleum oils, cars and diamonds.

Recovery of UAE trade in services

In 2023, the UAE’s services trade surplus grew to Dhs207 billion, up from Dhs96.26 billion in 2021, indicating a continued increase in its share of global service exports.

Key sectors such as travel and tourism, ICT, professional and financial services, education, medical tourism, Islamic financial services, the creative economy, and logistics saw a significant contribution to this growth.

In Q4 2023, the UAE’s non-oil foreign trade of goods reached a record Dhs710 billion (US$193), a 16.3% YoY and 12.4% QoQ growth. This marked the first time non-oil trade exceeded Dhs700 billion ($190bn) in a quarter.

Non-oil exports of goods amounted to Dhs132.2 billion ($36bn), a 39.3% YoY and 26.9% QoQ increase. Since Q1 2023, non-oil exports have consistently surpassed Dhs100 billion ($27.2bn).

tanvir@dubainewsweek.com

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