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Dubai's non-oil foreign trade up 6% at Dh1.37 trillion

Dubai saw remarkable external trade growth in 2019, spurred by its efforts to achieve its 2025 trade target of Dh2 trillion. The emirate's non-oil foreign trade rose 6 per cent to reach Dh1.37 trillion last year despite headwinds from an intensified global economic downturn.

In terms of value, Dubai's external trade hit Dh1.371 trillion last year compared to Dh1.299 trillion in 2018. Exports skyrocketed 22 per cent to Dh155 billion, re-exports grew by 4 per cent to Dh420 billion and imports rose by three per cent to Dh796 billion.

Over the 2010-19 decade, the value of Dubai's external trade went up by 52 per cent thanks to the agility, versatility and flexibility of the external trade sector in the emirate, which discovered alternative markets and trade paths to make up for sluggish growth in some markets.

"Dubai's strong foreign trade performance, which reflects its robust economic fundamentals and its resilience against odds, gave it a positive start to 2020 - the year of preparation for the next 50 years," according to a statement on Saturday.

In terms of volume, non-oil external trade surged 19 per cent from 91 million tonnes in 2018 to reach 109 million tonnes last year. Re-exports rose by a record 48 per cent to reach 17 million tonnes, while exports rose by 45 per cent to 19 million tons and imports grew by nine per cent to 72 million tonnes. These figures capped a prosperous decade for Dubai from 2010-2020, during which external trade grew by 70 per cent.

Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of The Executive Council, said Dubai's external trade has contributed significantly to the emirate's economic achievements, further raising its status as a global hub for trade, business and tourism, giving it a solid platform for growth in the next 50 years and creating the optimal conditions for more sustainable development across sectors.

"Inspired by the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, Dubai's external trade sector is progressing steadily towards the 2025 trade target of Dh2 trillion set by His Highness. All government entities are working seamlessly together to provide the best services, facilitate trade and foreign investments, and further develop infrastructure across the emirate, especially at airports and free zones, to galvanise its journey of excellence and enhance its role as a commercial bridge between the east and west. Furthermore, hosting mega-events such as Expo 2020 will provide opportunities for the international trade sector to explore new possibilities and expand growth."

China remained Dubai's largest trading partner, contributing Dh150 billion. India was second, contributing Dh135 billion, followed by the US with Dh77.7 billion, and Switzerland with Dh60 billion.

Saudi Arabia maintained its position as Dubai's largest Arab trade partner. The country was the emirate's fifth biggest partner globally, contributing Dh56 billion.

The highest-traded commodity by value in 2019 was gold, jewellery and diamonds, which contributed Dh370 billion, a growth of seven per cent from 2018. Gold took the lion's share of trade with Dh169.5 billion, followed by phones with Dh164 billion, an increase of nine per cent from the previous year. The third-highest traded commodity was jewellery at Dh116.6 billion, followed by petroleum oils that contributed Dh85.4 billion in 2019, a growth of 55 per cent, and diamonds which accounted for Dh83.9 billion.

Dubai's foreign trade out of free zones in 2019 was a major contributor to the overall increase, accounting for Dh592 billion, a 11 per cent increase year-on-year. Direct trade saw 2 per cent growth to reach Dh770 billion. Customs warehouse trade hit Dh9 billion.

Land trade grew by 11 per cent contributing Dh228 billion, air trade rose by five per cent to Dh641 billion and sea trade increased by 4 per cent to Dh502 billion.

Sultan bin Sulayem, DP World Group chairman and CEO and chairman of Ports, Customs and Free Zone Corporation, said growth in Dubai's external trade is the fruit of dedicated and well-planned work over the last few years, which helped us establish global leadership in different sectors.

"The future is promising and there are no limits when it comes to our expectations. We will keep growing and developing based on the latest and most advanced innovations and breakthroughs in AI smart applications following the vision and directives of our leadership.

"Hosting major international events will give our organisations a greater voice on the world stage, backed by our presence and strong network out of the 80 terminals that DP World operates worldwide, and our bold economic initiatives including the Dubai Silk Road," Bin Sulayem said.

He said free zones in Dubai are a key factor behind the emirate's trade success. The sophisticated infrastructure of our free zones, especially Jebel Ali Free Zone (Jafza), has helped businesses benefit from different incentives and facilities, and attracted more foreign investments over the years.

Bin Sulayem said Dubai Customs is continuously evolving to facilitate greater trade and provide more exceptional service to its customers. The number of customs transactions completed by Dubai Customs grew by a record 34 per cent in 2019 to 13 million from 9.7 million in 2018. As part of the Dubai Silk Road strategy, Dubai Customs launched the World Logistics Passport, which links Customs World, DP World, and Emirates Group to enhance connectivity through Dubai and, through sharing of expertise and process development directly between partner countries. Dubai Customs also launched the second phase of the productivity engine, an initiative developed in-house and approved by The Executive Council with the aim of boosting productivity by 8-10 per cent.