Dubai’s non-oil foreign trade surges in first half of 2019

Non-oil foreign trade is up five per cent compared to the same period in 2018 – and 87 per cent since 2009

Photo credit: Ben Mack

Dubai’s non-oil foreign trade is up by several billion dirhams.

New data from Dubai Customs reveals Dubai’s non-oil foreign trade was Dhs676bn ($184bn) in the first half of 2019. The number is about a five per cent increase from Dhs644bn ($175.33bn) in the first half of 2018.

In a statement released on October 5, the Dubai Government’s media office also said the numbers represent “staggering growth” of about 87 per cent since 2009.

The biggest contributor to the non-oil foreign trade increase was direct trade, at Dhs386bn ($105.1bn). Trade from free zones amounted to Dhs287bn ($78.13bn) in the first six months of 2019, a 12 per cent increase from the same period in 2018.

In the first half of the year, exports increased by 17 per cent from 2018 to Dhs76bn ($20.7bn). Re-exports increased by three per cent to reach Dhs210bn (`$57.17bn). Imports increased by four per cent from 2018 to Dhs390bn ($106.18bn).

In terms of non-oil trade volumes, the first half of 2019 saw a 31 per cent increase from the first six months of 2018 to reach 56 million tonnes (up from 43 million tonnes in the first half of 2018). Exports rose to 10 million tonnes, a 46 per cent increase from 2018’s figures. Re-exports were nine million tonnes (up 39 per cent). Imports amounted to 38 million tonnes – a 26 per cent increase from 2018.

China was the UAE’s leading trade partner in the first half of 2019, with Dhs71bn ($19.33bn) in trade. In second was India at Dhs67bn ($18.24), while in third was the United States at Dhs39bn ($10.62bn). Saudi Arabia was fourth (Dhs28bn, or $7.62bn), and Switzerland was fifth (Dhs27bn, or $7.35bn).

Looking at individual commodities, in the first half of 2018, gold, jewellery and diamonds contributed Dhs180bn ($49bn), making it the highest non-oil commodity. The second-highest was mobile phones, at Dhs79bn ($21.51bn). Petroleum oils accounted for Dhs48bn ($13.07bn). Automobiles amounted to Dhs33bn ($8.98bn in trade).

The numbers also come as more business licences are being granted in Dubai. Statistics released by the Business Registration and Licensing (BRL) sector of Dubai’s Department of Economic Development (DED) showed that a total of 14,737 new business licences (a pace of about 81 per day) were issued from January to June this year, compared to 11,059 during the same period in 2018.

READ: New Dubai business licences up more than a third in H1

(non-oil trade value in first six months of 2019, according to Dubai Customs)

1. China // Dhs71bn ($19.33bn)
2. India // Dhs67bn ($18.24bn)
3. United States // Dhs39bn ($10.62bn)
4. Saudi Arabia // Dhs28bn ($7.62bn)
5. Switzerland // Dhs27bn ($7.35bn)