Dubai’s non-oil external trade stays resilient even amidst pandemic

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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Dubai Port
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The first half (H1) of 2020 showed $150 billion worth trade in the non-oil external trade in Dubai. The unparalleled logistic infrastructure of the Emirate supported it to continue its trade flow and supply chain even during the global economic crisis due to pandemic.

During these months, Dubai has traded a total of 44 million tons of goods which included 30 million tons of imports worth $87.1 billion, 8 million tons of exports accounted for $20.9 billion and $41.9 billion worth 6 million tons of re-exports.

Sultan bin Sulayem, DP World Group Chairman & CEO and Chairman of Ports, Customs and Free Zone Corporation, expressed his gratitude towards the strong, diverse and flexible Dubai economy due to which the external trade sector of the emirate could withstand the crisis.

Sultan bin Sulayem
Sultan bin Sulayem
Chairman & CEO
DP World Group

“External trade is one of the key pillars of our economy. Dubai’s external trade sector has shown a high level of preparedness in dealing with the crisis. It has provided exceptional trading facilities and services to help businesses around the world overcome the challenges of the current period.”

Pandemic resilience

“During the pandemic, Dubai launched several stimulus packages under the directives of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, to support the emirate’s business sector and reduce the impact of prevailing global economic conditions. The economy has efficiently navigated the turbulence in international markets by forging partnerships with markets less affected by the economic crisis,” said Sulayem.

Ahmed Mahboob Musabih, Director General of Dubai Customs, said that despite the global economic crisis, customs activities conducted by the Dubai Customs has increased 41 percent in the first half of 2020 to reach 7.2 million transactions.

“Dubai Customs continued to develop and launch new initiatives. These included Siyaj (Fence), the first integrated 24/7 control system in the world created to manage Dubai’s different ports, especially Creek Port and Hamriya Port. Dubai Customs also launched the Cross Border e-Commerce Platform to encourage e-commerce companies to set up their businesses in Dubai,” he added.

“Furthermore, Dubai launched the Food Security dashboard that uses artificial intelligence and data analytics to measure the five important indicators of food security: the supply index, stock availability, local production, consumption levels, and the cost of vital commodities in the emirate,” Musabih added.

AEO Initiative

The World Customs Organization (WCO) approved Dubai Customs’ initiative to launch an international platform for best practices and agreed with the Authorized Economic Operator (AEO).

About 77 companies have registered as members of the AEO program and nearly 4.4 million customs transactions were completed through the program in the first half of 2020, Musabih explained.

Dubai Customs, in cooperation with the WCO and the UAE Federal Customs Authority, is currently working to conduct next year’s 5th WCO Global AEO conference.

External trade

The external trade of Dubai has shown considerable growth in May and June compared to April 2020. In May, the external trade grew 17.2 percent to reach $20.4 billion when compared to April and improved 20 percent more in June compared to May and attained $24.5 billion.

The H1 2020 trade figures of land, sea and air show a strong integration with the airborne trade and accounted for $68.06 billion which is 45 percent of total trade. Sea trade reached $57.7 billion (39 percent) while land trade touched $24.2 billion which is 16 percent.

The direct trade of Dubai reached $87.1 billion, which is 58 percent of the emirate’s external trade, while trade through free zones reached $61.7 billion (41 percent), and customs warehouse trade totaled at $1.08 billion (1 percent).

Dubai’s top trading partners

China continued its position as Dubai’s largest trading partner in H1 2020 with $18 billion worth of trade, followed by India and the USA in the second and third positions respectively. Whereas Saudi Arabia continued to be Dubai’s largest Gulf and Arab trade partner and its fifth-largest global trade partner with $6.5 billion worth of trade.

Gold, diamonds and jewelry topped the list of commodities in Dubai’s H1 2020 external trade at $38.1billion, followed by telecoms and motors in the second and third place. Petroleum oils came in the fourth position with $5.7 billion.

Food materials’ trade grew 15 percent to 9.1 million tons and medical supplies and medicines grew 19 percent compared to the first half of 2019.

eCommerce shift

The pandemic has further speeded up the shift to eCommerce that has been gathering pace for many years. The emirate dispatched 4.3 million parcels in H1 2020, with transactions up 150 percent compared to the same period last year.