The UAE will most likely work with the United States to try to find an exemption to the proposed tariffs on imports of steel and aluminium, according to Danny E Sebright, president of the US-UAE Business Council
“The trade is overwhelmingly in favour of the United States with $20 billion in exports. If the US administration decides to impose tariffs, the UAE will work quietly with the United States to try to find an exemption or find a way so that it doesn’t affect it so much,” Sebright told Gulf News in an interview.
Sebright that trade relations between the two countries are strong with bilateral trade reaching $24 billion for 2017 with the US exporting $20 billion worth of goods to the UAE. He said the UAE is still a top export market for the United States in the Middle East region and there is a lot of foreign direct investment in both the countries.
“We just don’t know yet what [US President Donald] Trump is going to do. He could call out a few countries like China and Canada and others on this. A formal policy statement is yet to be issued by the government.”
Trump announced last week that the US would impose steep tariffs on steel and aluminium imports which would impact a number of producers such as Canada and China and the UAE. Steel products will face a 25 per cent tariff, with 10 per cent tariff being slapped on aluminium goods.
UAE is one of the top exporters of aluminium to the US with the Gulf nation, exporting 569,405 metric tonnes of aluminium last year from January to October, according to figures by the US Department of Commerce. It also exported 290,221 metric tonnes of steel to the US in 2017.
Sebright said the UAE exports a different kind of aluminium to the US — one variety which it exports is very critical to the US defence department for fighter jets and in the manufacture of commercial aircraft.
“Aluminium is very important to the US because the kind of aluminium, which the UAE exports is of very high quality and is critical to the US Defence Department.”
US exports finished aircraft, aircraft engines and different materials for the oil and gas industry.
The US-UAE Business Council, based in Washington DC, promotes bilateral trade between the two countries and has 150 companies as its members, including Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, ExxonMobil, DP World, Boeing, among others.
UAE-based companies recently expressed concern over the proposed tariffs by the US government. The chief executive officer of Emirates Steel Saeed, Al Remeithi, said in a press conference on Monday their steel exports to the US will be impacted due to the decision but they are looking at new markets to increase their business.
Emirates Global Aluminium (EGA), on the other hand said “it was well prepared for any outcome.”