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Foreign Trade in Figures

The United Arab Emirates is among the world’s most dynamic markets in terms of foreign trade, with trade accounting for 168% of the GDP according to latest available data from World Bank. The country is one of the world's top 20 largest exporters and importers of commodities and the largest trading nation of the Middle East. Oil products are by far the largest item of exports (the country is the world’s 5th oil exporter), followed by radio-telephony transmission tools, gold, jewellery and diamonds. Petroleum oils and gold are also among major imports, along with radio-telephony transmission tools, jewellery, transport equipment (mostly cars), diamonds, machinery and foodstuffs. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the volume of trade dropped sharply in 2020, but recovered in 2021. According to IMF estimates, the volume of exports of goods and services increased by 2.2% compared to 2020, while the volume of imports increased by 1.1%. The IMF forecast a rebound in the volume of trade in 2022, with exports increasing by 4.5% and imports by 5.3%.

Saudi Arabia is the top destination of Emirati exports, followed by Iraq, India, Switzerland, Oman and China. China, the United States, India, Japan and Germany are among United Arab Emirates' main suppliers of goods and services. The recent UAE-Israel normalization deal, which comprises trade and technology cooperation and allows UAE oil to be sent directly to Europe via an Israeli pipeline, will positively impact trade. Bilateral trade between Israel and the UAE will reach USD 2 billion by 2022, up 50% from 2021, according to estimates by the UAE-Israel Business Council (Atalayar).

The United Arab Emirates has a structurally positive trade balance, but the surplus is closely linked to global oil prices. The UAE external balance on goods and services represented 26% of GDP in 2019 (World Bank). According to WTO data, in 2020 the UAE exported USD 319.3 billion worth of goods and USD 61.3 billion of services, importing USD 225.7 billion worth of goods and USD 58.2 billion worth services (Comtrade). Compared to 2018, exports of goods decreased by -2.9% in 2019, while imports increased by 3.6% (World Bank, latest data). Despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, UAE’s non-oil foreign trade recorded a 27% growth in the first half of 2021 compared to the first half of 2020 (Emirates News Agency).

 
Foreign Trade Values 20162017201820192020
Imports of Goods (million USD) 225,000273,710261,538267,937225,741
Exports of Goods (million USD) 265,900313,547387,910389,373319,278
Imports of Services (million USD) 83,21370,58171,01486,86258,162
Exports of Services (million USD) 63,41769,58270,87889,28561,266

Source: World Trade Organisation (WTO) ; Latest available data

Foreign Trade Indicators 20152016201720182019
Foreign Trade (in % of GDP) 175.2176.7175.0159.7160.9
Imports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) -5.72.73.010.93.6
Exports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 5.23.4-2.511.5-2.9
Imports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 74.475.775.466.768.5
Exports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 100.9101.099.693.092.5

Source: World Bank ; Latest available data

Foreign Trade Forecasts 20212022 (e)2023 (e)2024 (e)2025 (e)
Volume of exports of goods and services (Annual % change) 2.24.55.34.74.3
Volume of imports of goods and services (Annual % change) 1.15.35.64.44.5

Source: IMF, World Economic Outlook ; Latest available data

Note: (e) Estimated Data

 
International Economic Cooperation
The United Arab Emirates is a member of the following international economic organisations: Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), ICC, Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (ABEDA), IMF, Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development (AFESD), G-77, Arab Monetary Fund (AMF), WTO, Arab League, among others. For the full list of economic and other international organisations in which participates the United Arab Emirates click here. International organisation membership of the United Arab Emirates is also outlined here.
Free Trade Agreements
The complete and up-to-date list of Free Trade Agreements signed by the United Arab Emirates can be consulted here.
 

Main Partner Countries

Main Customers
(% of Exports)
2021
Saudi Arabia 6.2%
India 5.6%
Iraq 3.4%
Hong Kong SAR, China 2.5%
Oman 2.4%
See More Countries 79.9%
Main Suppliers
(% of Imports)
2021
China 14.9%
India 6.0%
United States 4.9%
Japan 3.1%
Turkey 2.8%
See More Countries 68.4%

Source: Comtrade, 2022. Because of rounding, the sum of the percentages may be smaller/greater than 100%.

 
 

Main Products

335.3 bn USD of products exported in 2020
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous...Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals, crude 31.4%
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous...Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals (excl. crude); preparations containing >= 70% by weight of petroleum oils or of oils obtained from bituminous minerals, these oils being the basic constituents of the preparations, n.e.s.; waste oils containing mainly petroleum or bituminous minerals 14.2%
Gold, incl. gold plated with platinum, unwrought...Gold, incl. gold plated with platinum, unwrought or not further worked than semi-manufactured or in powder form 8.7%
Electrical apparatus for line telephony or line...Electrical apparatus for line telephony or line telegraphy, incl. line telephone sets with cordless handsets and telecommunication apparatus for carrier-current line systems or for digital line systems; videophones; parts thereof 6.1%
Petroleum gas and other gaseous hydrocarbonsPetroleum gas and other gaseous hydrocarbons 6.1%
See More Products 33.5%
247.0 bn USD of products imported in 2020
Gold, incl. gold plated with platinum, unwrought...Gold, incl. gold plated with platinum, unwrought or not further worked than semi-manufactured or in powder form 15.1%
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous...Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals, crude 8.7%
Electrical apparatus for line telephony or line...Electrical apparatus for line telephony or line telegraphy, incl. line telephone sets with cordless handsets and telecommunication apparatus for carrier-current line systems or for digital line systems; videophones; parts thereof 8.3%
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous...Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals (excl. crude); preparations containing >= 70% by weight of petroleum oils or of oils obtained from bituminous minerals, these oils being the basic constituents of the preparations, n.e.s.; waste oils containing mainly petroleum or bituminous minerals 6.5%
Motor cars and other motor vehicles principally...Motor cars and other motor vehicles principally designed for the transport of persons, incl. station wagons and racing cars (excl. motor vehicles of heading 8702) 4.2%
See More Products 57.2%

Source: Comtrade, 2022. Because of rounding, the sum of the percentages may be smaller/greater than 100%.

 
 

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Actualitzacions: September 2022

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