Dubai: The UAE remains Australia’s most important trading partner in the region despite a decline in overall trade, according to Gerard Seeber, Senior Trade Commissioner and Consul-General, at the Australian Consulate-General in Dubai.
Overall trade between Australia and the UAE was valued at “A$5.9 billion [Dh19.8 billion] between July 1 2011 and June 30 2012”, he told Gulf News in a phone interview, adding that subsequent trade between the trading partners for the 2012 calendar year was A$5.1 billion.
The UAE is Australia’s largest trading partner in the region and 16th overall, Seeber said.
He said hyrdocarbon exports to Australia had dropped by 26 per cent and imports to the UAE had declined by 7 per cent.
The reduction in hrydrocarbon exports were likely due to changes in Australian demand, Seeber said, and despite a 7 per cent drop, staple imports to the UAE had remained stable.
Seeber said over the past five years trade and investment had declined by 10 per cent, adding that this was due to a combination of the drop of motor vehicle exports and the strong Australia dollar.
Australia’s staple export to the UAE are the Toyota Camry and Holden motor vehicles. Holden’s are rebranded Chevrolets in the UAE.
“Last year figures of A$200 million Australian dollars in motor vehicles were stable despite a decline in numbers over time,” Seeber said.
Other significant Australian exports to the UAE are meat, vegetables, and barley.
The UAE is Australia’s second largest market for meat exports, by volume and value, in the Mena (Middle East and North Africa) region behind Saudi Arabia, Jamie Ferguson, Regional Manager — MENA Meat & Livestock Australia, said.
“The UAE imported just under A$200 million worth of Australian red meat in the 2012/13 financial year,” he said.
The Australian financial year starts July 1 and ends June 30.
Since 2004/05 Australian red meat exports to the UAE have increased by more than 300 per cent, Ferguson said.
“Australia has been exporting to the UAE for over 30 years but the past 10 years has seen the most aggressive growth in line with the dramatic increase in tourism numbers and the population growth in the UAE,” Ferguson said.
The UAE and GCC in particular is important is because it is one of the important geographical areas experiencing significant growth, Seeber said.
“You need to look where there is growth and stability and where you have good relations.”
The 350 Australian companies in the UAE have accounted for A$1 billion worth of investment, Seeber said.
Craig Holding, Chairman of the Australian Business Council in Dubai said Australian entrepreneurs are attracted to the lucrative tax-free environment in the UAE and the access to important international markets. On the other hand he said local investors trust the “well-known Australian hard work ethic.”
Seeber said there was room for expansion in Australian exports to the UAE in the hospitality and retail sector.
“Where the UAE and Dubai is growing when you look at the future it is around those industries,” Seeber said.
He added that there was also room to grow and diversify UAE exports to Australia.
The majority of UAE exports is petroleum and other hyrdocarbon products. However, civil engineering and parts account $21 million, Seeber said.