Abu Dhabi: The UAE’s non-oil trade reached Dh270.1 billion during the first quarter of 2015, marking a 6 per cent increase over the first quarter of last year, the Federal Customs Authority (FCA) announced on Monday.
Non-oil imports amounted to Dh170.8 billion in the first quarter of 2015 — up from Dh166.8 billion in same period last year, while exports amounted to Dh40.6 billion, recording a 35 per cent growth rate. Meanwhile, re-exports reached Dh58.7 billion in the quarter.
The FCA attributed the increase in non-oil trade to the UAE’s economic growth, as well as trade policies that removed obstacles of trade with other countries.
Saleem Khokhar, head of equities at the National Bank of Abu Dhabi’s asset management group, said the increase in non-oil trade was a positive development, especially given the falling oil prices and the resulting drop in oil revenue.
“I think the current low oil price environment is something that will very much be in the minds of governments, and there will be more requirements to diversify away from that pure oil-driven revenue,” he said.
“I think this is something that will continue not only in the UAE, but also across the region, and particularly in Saudi where you will see more of a push to develop the non-oil sectors.”
Khokhar added that he expected the growth rate of non-oil GDP (gross domestic product) to surpass that of oil as the UAE raises its diversification efforts amid low oil prices.
Meanwhile, analyst Osama Al Ashry said that while a 6 per cent growth rate in non-oil trade was a positive figure, it might not be enough to make up for falling oil revenues.
Al Ashry, a member of UK organisation, the Society of Technical Analysts, expects oil to bounce back, however, and even reach $100 (Dh367.3) on the long-term.
In its statement, FCA said that the regional structure of the UAE’s trading partners in the non-oil field remained stable as Asia, Australia and the Pacific region maintained the top spot with a share of 42 per cent of the UAE’s non-oil trade.
As for non-oil trade with GCC countries, Saudi Arabia topped the list, with 40 per cent of the total trade value (Dh10.3 billion), followed by Oman with 23 per cent, Qatar with 15 per cent, Kuwait with 12 per cent, and Bahrain with nine per cent.
In terms of goods, native gold and processed gold came on top of the imported goods in the first quarter of 2015, with a value of Dh26.3 billion (15 per cent of the total non-oil imports). Cars came in second place, followed by non-composite diamonds and mobile phones.
Gold also topped the non-oil exports list, accounting for 35 per cent (Dh14 billion) of the UAE’s total non-oil exports.