Saudi Arabia still UAE’s top trading partner in region

The GCC countries maintained their relatively flat positions among trade partners of the UAE, with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on top

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UAE’s non-oil trade reached AED256 billion in the first quarter of this year, reflecting the continuous momentum of the UAE’s non-oil foreign trade in 2013, preliminary data from the Federal Customs Authority (FCA) showed.

FCA’s statistics state that imports accounted for 65 percent, or AED166.4 billion of the non-oil trade in the first quarter, compared to exports that accounted for 11.8 percent, or AED30.2 billion and re-exports that represented 23.2 percent, or AED59.4 billion of non-oil trade.

The non-oil trade in terms of weight reached approx. 40.7 million ton in 1Q14, of which imports accounted for 15.5 million ton, exports 22.7 million ton and re-exports 2.5 million ton.

The GCC countries maintained their relatively flat positions among trade partners of the UAE, with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on top.

Total value of the UAE-Saudi non-oil trade recorded AED8.3 billion, accounting for 36.2 percent of total trade with the GCC countries. Oman came second with AED6 billion (26.4 percent), followed by Kuwait and Qatar with AED3.2 billion (14 percent) each and finally Bahrain with AED2.2 billion (9.4 percent).

Non-oil trade with Arab states hit AED35.9 billion in the first quarter, to which imports contributed AED11.9 billion, exports and re-exports AED11.7 billion and AED12.3 billion, respectively.

The FCA said gold, motor vehicles, diamond, jewels and jewelry, telephone sets, aerial and space vehicles, data processing devices, pure copper and copper mixes were on top of imports in 1Q14.

Gold, jewels and jewelry, ethylene polymers, crude aluminum, copper wires, petroleum oils and processed mineral oils, iron scrap, sugar cane or sugar beet came at the first place in the list of exports.

The top re-exports were diamond, jewels and jewelry, motor vehicles, mobile sets, reciprocating engines, data processing devices, magnetic and optical readers and transport trucks.

The FCA said in a statement that the first-quarter statistics represent a significant launch pad for the State’s trade balance with other countries worldwide, after the foreign trade indices had been back last year to the normal levels of pre-global financial crisis era that hard hit the world in 2008.

The customs regulator added that the non-oil trade in 2013 saw relative steady growth rates throughout the year, which in turn mirrors the sound economic and trade policies of the State.

The UAE is keen on facilitating world trade and removing customs and non-customs hiccups before mutual trade with peers worldwide.

This in turn would cement bilateral international relations, contribute to meeting national expectations and consumer growing demand while the UAE seeks to protect the society from illegal trade practices and maintain the economic interest of the business sector locally and overseas, the FCA added.

In its 2014-16 strategy, co-implemented with the local customs departments and competent ministries, the FCA is keen on increasing the competitive edge of the State in several customs related-fields.

The regulator targets over three years to develop the customs procedures in terms of facilitating mutual trade, enhancing competitiveness, backing the customs departments in their inspection efforts to enhance the society security, strengthening customs relations with other states and international organizations and ensuring that all administrative services are offered in compliance with the standards of quality, efficiency and transparency.

The US and Caribbean took the forth rank with 10 percent of the total non-oil trade, or AED24.1 billion, followed by West and Central Africa (4 percent, or AED9.4 billion) and East and South Africa (3 percent, or AED7 billion).

The value of UAE- Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) non-oil trade reached AED22.9 billion in 1Q14, of which GCC imports accounted for AED7.4 billion, while exports and re-exports represented AED7.7 billion each, the report said.

The FCA stated it adopts many initiatives to achieve growth in the UAE’s non-oil trade and facilitate trade, mainly developing customs procedures and policies, developing electronic systems, reducing the time of customs clearance, managing customs setoff, providing statistical data, overcoming obstacles to mutual trade, conducting international studies on the best standards, providing customs training and bolstering competitive indexes in the customs field.

Eight competitive indexes were defined in compliance with the FCA strategy and initiatives were developed for the enhancement, namely the indexes of customs management efficiency, import and export efficiency, cross-border trade, the number of import days, number of the documents required for import, number of export days, and number of the documents required for export and customs department performance index.

Steps are being taken to implement the initiatives aimed at development of the inspection and surveillance policies and procedures, early inquiry about shipments, risk system management, the UAE green customs, building customs department capacities in the field of crisis management and entering into regional and international agreements and organizations.

As for trade partners in the first quarter of 2014, according to the FCA data, the non-oil foreign trade map has been marked by diversification and comprehensiveness being extended to the world’s all customs regions.

The Asia-Pacific countries and Australia maintained its leading position among the UAE’s trade partners in terms of non-oil trade, accounting for 43 percent, or AED106 billion of total direct trade volume.

The remaining regions maintained their relative weight in terms of total trade during the first quarter, as Europe took the second position contributing 27 percent, or AED67.2 billion to total trade, followed by the MENA region with 14 percent, or AED35.1 billion.

This article was first published in the Saudi Gazette.

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