The UAE remained the largest exporter and importer of goods and services last year in the region despite decline in trade of merchandise and commercial services, the World Trade Organisation (WTO) data showed.
In its latest report, the global trading body said that world trade shrank by 0.3 per cent in fourth quarter of 2018 and is likely to grow by 2.6 per cent this year, slower than three per cent growth in 2018 and below a previous forecast of 3.7 per cent, mainly due to new tariffs and retaliatory measures, weaker economic growth and volatility in financial markets.
According to WTO statistics, the UAE’s total merchandise imports and exports amounted to $599 billion (Dh2.2 trillion) last year as compared to $628 billion (Dh2.3 trillion) in the previous year.
Last year, the UAE’s exports dropped to $346 billion, accounting for 1.8 per cent of the total global exports as compared to $360 billion exports in 2017. It was the 16th largest exporting economy of 2018, WTO said.
In 2017, the UAE’s share in global exports amounted to two per cent, becoming the 16th largest exporters in the world.
The data released on Tuesday revealed that the UAE was 20th largest merchandise importer last year with $253 billion worth of imports, accounting for 1.3 per cent of global imports share. The Emirate was the 18th largest importer in 2017 with imports valued at $268 billion, making up 1.5 per cent of global imports share.
Similarly, the UAE was the leading exporter and importer of commercial services regionally.
Its exports of commercial services reached $71 billion last year, accounting for 1.3 per cent of the global share. While imports also amounted to $71 billion and accounted for 1.3 per cent of the global commercial services’ imports.
From the Gulf region, Saudi Arabia was the only other economy in the top 30 global merchandise exporting and importing nations. The Kingdom’s exports reached $299 billion in 2018 compared to $218 billion in the previous year. Its market share in global exports increased from 1.2 per cent to 1.5 per cent last year, WTO data said.
Although the volume of global trade grew only slowly in 2018, the dollar value rose 10 per cent to $19.48 trillion, partly because oil prices rose 20 per cent.
The value of commercial services trade grew by 8 per cent to $5.80 trillion in 2018, driven by strong import growth in Asia.
During the launch of the report, WTO chief economist Robert Koopman told reporters that the worst may be to come if US President Donald Trump decides to levy higher tariffs on imports of cars later in 2019.