UAE Trade Hits $1tn in 2022, Set for a Stronger 2023

Economists from the World Trade Organisation(WTO) said that UAE’s trade in goods with the rest of the world hit $1.024tn in 2022 as the share of both exports and imports increased on the back of higher crude oil prices, according to a report by the state news agency, WAM. Imports accounted for 22 per cent of that amount while exports grew by 41 per cent.

According to the WTO’s Global Trade Outlook and Statistics report, exports grew 41 per cent to $599bn in 2022, accounting for 2.4 per cent of the global merchandise exports share, while imports were $425bn, accounting for 1.7 per cent.

According to WTO data, the UAE ranked 11th in terms of exports of commodities and was the 18th importer of global merchandise goods worldwide.

In terms of commercial service exports, the Emirates came in 12th with $154bn, or 2.2 per cent of the global total, with imports totalling $95bn, or 1.5 per cent of all commercial services imported globally, bringing the country’s total trade in service with the rest of the world to $249bn.

Global trade growth in 2023 is still expected to be subpar despite a slight upgrade to GDP projections by the WTO since last fall. Weighed down by the effects of the crisis in Ukraine, stubbornly high inflation, tighter monetary policy and financial market uncertainty, the volume of world merchandise trade is expected to grow by 1.7 per cent this year, following 2.7 per cent growth in 2022, a smaller-than-expected increase that was pulled down by a sharp slump in the fourth quarter, said the global trade organisation.

The UAE is expected to maintain a strong trade presence, however, according to Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai. He recently took to Twitter to highlight the WTO figures.

"What comes next in 2023 is better, bigger and greater," he said in his tweet. "We are an economic country ... and our national priorities are economic ... and our relations with countries will remain based on developing the economy."

As the second-largest economy in the Arab world, the United Arab Emirates witnessed an impressive growth of 7.6% in the past year, marking the highest increase in over a decade since it last expanded by 3.9% in 2021, as reported by the UAE Central Bank.

Anticipating continued economic expansion, the banking authority projects a 4.3% growth for the coming year while maintaining its 3.9% growth prediction for the present year. In an effort to diversify its economy and strengthen economic collaborations, the UAE saw a 17% yearly increase in its non-oil foreign trade, reaching a record-breaking Dh2.23 trillion ($607.1 billion). This growth is in part due to strategic initiatives enacted by the Emirates.

The UAE's Minister of Economy, Abdulla bin Touq, announced last month that the nation is in the process of establishing 26 Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreements (CEPAs). These agreements aim to reduce trade impediments, enhance market accessibility, and create investment and trade opportunities with partner countries. So far, the UAE has successfully signed CEPA arrangements with India, Israel, Indonesia, and Turkey. Negotiations with Cambodia and Kenya are also nearing completion.