Panama City: Trade flows between GCC countries and Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) reached $16.3 billion (Dh59.86 billion) in 2018, while the UAE remained a top trading partner in the Gulf region for LAC countries, according to a new report conducted by Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) in cooperation with the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

The report, titled ‘Towards a Renewed and Strengthened Relationship: Fostering ties between Latin America and the Caribbean and the Gulf Countries’, was released during the third Global Business Forum on Latin America which kicked off on Tuesday in Panama City.

In 2018, Gulf countries imported $10.9 billion worth of products from Latin America and the Caribbean, while they exported products to the region valued at $5.4 billion. The UAE accounted for 27 per cent of exports from GCC region to Latin America and the Caribbean, and 46 per cent of imports from LAC countries, making it the top growth market for LAC traders, the report revealed.

Brazil, Argentina and Mexico were identified as the top trading partners in the region for GCC markets, jointly acquiring 76 per cent of the total intra-regional trade between the two regions. Brazil’s trade with the Gulf countries in 2018 amounted to $9.1 billion, followed by Argentina ($2 billion) and Mexico ($1.3 billion).

The report outlined several recommendations for boosting trade flows between the two regions, including establishing new trade, investment and double taxation agreements, increasing the number of diplomatic missions, launching additional direct flights, and further facilitating bilateral business exchanges.

According to the IDB’s estimates, new trade agreements could potentially increase trade flows between the GCC and LAC regions by $9.8 billion per year. It also noted that expanding the diplomatic footprint could lend a $3.3 billion boost to bilateral trade.

Simplifying export and import mechanisms and processes, and implementing initiatives such as a single-window system for all procedures, licensing economic agents, and signing mutual recognition agreements with procedures adopted by each country were also important steps that countries in the two regions could take to facilitate and accelerate bilateral trade in the future, the report said.

Hamad Bu Amim, president and CEO of the Dubai Chamber, said that Dubai Chamber’s growing presence in Latin America supports the emirate’s economic diversification plans and strategic vision, adding that boosting bilateral trade and attracting Latin American companies to Dubai will be among the representative offices’ top priorities.