Dubai: The UAE's paper consumption is one of the highest in the world, clocking annual growth of 5-6 per cent, according to international industry statistics released yesterday on the sidelines of the opening of the Paper Arabia 2011 exhibition in Dubai.

The per capita annual consumption of paper in the UAE is 200kg — on a par with Italy and Spain — against the global average consumption of 60 kg, according to the Indonesian Pulp and Paper Association.

The association's findings also reveal the significance of the figure considering the UAE's small population and when contrasted with a country like India where the per capita consumption is a mere 9kg.

In 2010 the UAE consumed 2.9 million tonnes of paper against 16.3 million tonnes in the Middle East region and 408.2 million tonnes globally, according to the Indonesian association.

Meanwhile, the show's organisers said that A4 was the most popular paper size in the UAE, and that the overall growth in consumption was between 5 and 6 per cent. Twelve paper mills operate in the country.

Commenting on the paper industry, Abdul Rahman Saif Al Ghurair, chairman of the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said that the UAE paper industry is still evolving and it serves the entire region as well as Africa.

Suresh Kilam, vice-chairman of the Indonesian Pulp and Paper Association, said: "The Chinese paper and pulp industry will reach 168 million tons [152.4 million tonnes] in 2020, 22 million of which will be exported outside Chinese markets, with the Middle East getting the bulk of these exports in the absence of anti-dumping policies. Chinese production was 92 tons [83.5 tonnes] in 2010 compared with 32 tons [29 tonnes] in 2001."

Both the North American and western European paper markets are shrinking 1.8 per cent yearly.