February 2021

UAE non-oil trade $281bn in first 9 months of 2020

UAE's non-oil trade reached AED1.033 trillion ($281.24 billion) during the first nine months of 2020, despite the global economic slowdown and Covid-triggered lockdowns, data released by the Federal Competitiveness and Statistics Centre showed.

The figures cover the exchanges of non-oil commodities, including direct trade and that of free zones and warehousing arrangements, highlighting the healthier trade and remarkable leap in exports and re-exports during September, at a value of AED76.35 billion, said a Wam news agency report.

From January to September 2020, imports amounted to AED572.888 billion, while the value of exports reached AED191.322 billion and re-exports increased to AED269.104 billion, according to the FCSC's statistics.

China is the country's top trading partner with a total trade of AED124.45 billion, followed by Saudi Arabia – AED90.8 billion; India – AED70 billion; US – AED60 billion, and Switzerland – AED41 billion. Gold topped the list at around AED182 billion, followed by phone and other cellular devices at AED105 billion.

According to Ministry of Economy's statistics, the UAE ranks third globally, and leads Arab region in terms of re-exports, coming among top 20 import & export countries worldwide in 2019, during which non-oil trade grew 5 percent, contributing significantly to the country's non-oil GDP.


Bahrain-GCC trade hit $5.7bn in 2020

Bahrain-GCC trade reached $5.7 billion in 2020, accounting for 25 per cent of Bahrain’s global bilateral trade for the year ($20.8 billion).

The figures were released at the same time as Bahrain’s Information and eGovernment Authority quarterly foreign trade report, identifying a 12 per cent surge in national origin exports buoyed by a thriving manufacturing sector.

Regional home to national and multinational manufacturing and logistics giants including Alba, Mondelez, Reckitt Benckiser and DHL, Bahrain offers a US FTA and direct access to the GCC’s largest consumer market – the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

During the fourth quarter, the value of exports of national origin increased by 12 per cent to $1.59 billion (BD599 million) during the fourth quarter of 2020, compared to $1.41 billion (BD532 million) for the same quarter of the previous year. Meanwhile, the country’s trade balance – the difference between exports and imports – improved by 18 per cent in Q4, recording a deficit of $1.16 billion (BD435 million) compared to $1.41 billion (BD530 million) in the same quarter of the previous year.

The top 10 countries in terms of the value of exports of national origin purchased from Bahrain accounted for 72 per cent of the total value, with the remaining countries accounting for 28 per cent. During the fourth quarter of 2020, the value of imports decreased by seven per cent, reaching $3.17 billion (BD1.191 billion) compared to $3.41 billion (BD1.282 billion) for the same quarter the previous year. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia ranked first among countries receiving Bahraini exports of national origin, importing $337 million (BD127 million) from Bahrain. Meanwhile, the US was second with $138 million (BD52 million) and UAE third with $135 million (BD51 million).

Unwrought aluminum alloys emerged as the top products exported from Bahrain during fourth quarter 2020, Agglomerated iron ores and concentrates alloyed was second, and Unwrought aluminum (not alloyed) third.


Services trade declined 24pc in Q3 2020: WTO

Global services trade in the third quarter (Q3) of 2020 fell 24 per cent compared to the same period in 2019, according to statistics released by the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

This represents only a small uptick from the 30 per cent year-on-year decline registered in the second quarter, in marked contrast to the much stronger rebound in goods trade.

Preliminary data further suggest that, in November, services trade was still 16 per cent below 2019 levels. Prospects for recovery remain poor since a second wave of Covid-19 infections necessitated new, stricter lockdown measures in many countries, with tightened restrictions on travel and related services extending into the first quarter of 2021.

The latest statistics confirm earlier expectations that services trade would be harder hit by the pandemic than goods trade, which was only down 5 per cent year-on-year in the third quarter.  Foregone expenditures on tradeable services could be directed elsewhere, with consumers shifting to goods instead.

Unlike goods, services cannot be stockpiled, which means that despite pent-up demand, many of the revenue losses from cancelled flights, holidays abroad, restaurant meals, and cultural/recreational activities are likely to be permanent.

Travel remains the most affected service sector, down 68 per cent globally compared with the same period of 2019. In the third quarter of 2020, spending by international travellers was down 88 per cent in Latin America and the Caribbean, 80 per cent in both Asia and Africa, 78 per cent in North America, and 55 per cent in Europe. 


Bahrain’s GDP shrinks 6.9pc due to pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic has significantly decreased the contribution of various economic sectors to the GDP of Bahrain last year, shows an assessment by the Bahrain Chamber for Commerce and Industry (BCCI).

In a report released yesterday on the economic repercussions of the Covid-19 crisis, Bahrain’s main business body said Covid-19-related restrictions continued to disrupt economic activity well into the third quarter last year, when partial resumption began in many sectors after nearly six-month-long closures.

Based on preliminary data from the Information and eGovernment Authority, the report found that in line with the global economic trend, Bahrain’s real GDP contracted by 6.9 per cent during the third quarter of 2020 when compared with Q3-2019.

The proportion of the transportation and communications sector contribution to the national GDP saw the higwhest decline of 41.43 per cent during the quarter when compared with the same period in 2019. For the third quarter in a row, the restaurants and hotels sector saw negative growth in its contribution to the GDP, reporting a decline of 36.61 per cent in Q3 after slumping 61.33 per cent in Q2 and 35.99 per cent in Q1 last year. Due to full or partial  lockdown, the volume of trade between Bahrain and other Gulf states has decreased to a large extent.

Bahrain’s trade with the largest economy in the region, Saudi Arabia, saw a slight decline of 2.1per cent in the first nine months of last year, whereas trade with Kuwait decreased by 15.4 per cent and with the UAE by 21 per cent, whereas trade with Oman saw a jump of 4.9 per cent.

The volume of foreign reserves in Bahrain decreased by 36 per cent as of end-November 2020 from end-December 2019.

The Bahrain Bourse (BHB) declined by 7.5 per cent in 2020 and closed at 1489.78 points.

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