01 June 2022

GCC economies to expand by 5.9pc in 2022: WB

The economies of the GCC are projected to expand by 5.9 per cent overall in 2022, with this recovery likely to continue in the medium-term, driven by the hydrocarbon and non-hydrocarbon sectors, said the World Bank in a new report.

The latest issue of the World Bank’s Gulf Economic Update (GEU), “Achieving Climate Change Pledges,” describes them as rebounding robustly from the Covid-19 pandemic in the course of 2021 and at the beginning of 2022.

It attributes the rebound to a broadly successful vaccination rollout across the GCC, the easing of pandemic restrictions, and developments in the hydrocarbon market. As a result, fiscal deficits have markedly improved, with the GCC external balance reaching pre-pandemic levels in 2021 as energy prices and export earnings strengthened.

As major hydrocarbon exporters, GCC countries may also benefit from changes in the energy markets brought about by the war in Ukraine. These countries may see strong fiscal and external surpluses, which could help spur consumer confidence.

However, the war has also placed energy security at the top of the agenda of many major oil importers, thereby accelerating their plans for a transition to green growth, the report said.


Saudi non-oil exports surge 29.4pc in Q1

Saudi Arabia’s non-oil exports (including re-exports) increased by 29.4 per cent year-on-year in the first quarter (Q1) of 2022, rising to SR77.8 billion ($20.7 billion) from SR60.1 billion in Q1 2021 said the General Authority for Statistics (Gastat).

The non-oil exports decreased compared to the previous quarter (Q4 2021) by SR4.4 billion or 5.4 per cent, reported Saudi Press Agency (SPA), citing Gastat’s International Trade reports on the First Quarter and March 2022.

The non-oil exports (including re-exports) increased by 25.4 per cent year-on-year in March 2022, rising to SR28.2 billion from SR22.5 billion in March 2021.

The ratio of non-oil exports to imports increased to 49.6 per cent in Q1 2022 from 43.1 per cent in Q1 2021 as a result of a higher increase in non-oil exports (29.4 per cent) than in imports (12.5 per cent) over that period.

Merchandise imports increased by SR12.5 per cent (SR17.4 billion) in Q1 2022. The value of imports amounted to SR156.8 billion in Q1 2022 compared to SR139.4 billion in Q1 2021. Imports also increased compared to the previous quarter (Q4 2021), by SR8.2 billion or 5.5 per cent. According to the report, the overall merchandise exports increased by 93.2 per cent in March 2022 compared to March 2021. The value of exports amounted to SR142.2 billion in March 2022, up from SR73.6 billion in March 2021. The value of imports amounted to SR55.2 billion in March 2022 compared to SR50.3 billion in March 2021.


Ukraine war, Covid weigh on goods trade in H1

The conflict in Ukraine and recent pandemic-related lockdowns in China appear to be dampening global goods trade in the first half of 2022, according to the latest Goods Trade Barometer of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

The current reading of 99.0 remains slightly below the baseline value of 100 for the index, which is a forward-looking composite of real-time indicators, suggesting continued slow growth in merchandise trade. The latest outlook scales back the earlier optimism in the barometer from February, which suggested that trade might have been approaching a turning point, with stronger growth expected the near future.

The anticipated upturn may have been short-circuited by the conflict in Ukraine, which started in late February and triggered sharp rises in food and energy prices, which tend to reduce real incomes and lower economic growth. China’s imposition of major lockdowns to combat a new outbreak of Covid-19 has further disrupted trade and production.

Only container shipping remains firmly below trend (95.0). Non-smoothed data for export orders and air freight went from above trend in one period to below trend in the next, hinting at a sharper downturn. If the Ukraine crisis and Chinese lockdowns persist, their impact may be seen more clearly in the next release.

In April, the WTO forecasted 3.0 per cent growth in the volume of world merchandise trade in 2022, down from the 4.7 per cent growth predicted as of last October.  The current barometer reading is broadly consistent with the April projection, but forecasts are less certain at the moment.


Dubai commercial transport sector grows 37pc

The commercial transport activities sector in Dubai has reported a significant growth of 37 per cent during the first quarter of 2022 extending from the same period of last year, said the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA).

Mansour Al Sabahi, Director of Commercial Transport Activities, Licensing Agency, RTA, said: “This 37 per cent growth rate clearly reflects the recovery of the commercial transport activities across the emirate during the first quarter of 2022.

 “The car rental business accounts for the largest number of new firms, and consequently reflecting an increase of 14 per cent. This increase is indicative of the overall economic recovery in the emirate.”

RTA’s Commercial Transport Activities Department is making sustained efforts to meet the needs of this vital sector by holding joint gatherings with stakeholders to enhance business relationships and step-up coordination with them, receive their feedback, and develop the best solutions to the problems they encounter.

 “We have witnessed the registration of 800 new companies in the field of transport and car rental in 2022, resulting in the registration of about 25,000 new vehicles,” Al Sabahi added.


UAE non-oil foreign trade inches to $136bn mark

The UAE’s non-oil foreign trade in the first quarter was close to AED500 billion ($136 billion) figure for the first time in the country’s history, according to the Federal Competitiveness and Statistics Centre.

It hit a total of AED499.7 billion, registering a 20.5 per cent growth compared to AED414.6 billion recorded for the same period last year. This figure is also up 26.3 percent compared to the same period in 2019.

The centre’s data highlighted China’s leadership in the list of top 10 countries trading with the UAE in Q1 2022, valued at AED57 billion, followed by India with AED46.2 billion, and Saudi Arabia with AED32.5 billion, stated the report.

Gold topped the list of leading commodities included in the UAE’s non-oil foreign trade, with a value of AED84.4 billion and accounting for 17 per cent of the country’s total non-oil foreign trade, followed by diamonds worth AED40 billion, telephone and communication devices worth AED37 billion, mineral oils worth AED24.6 billion, ornaments and jewellery worth AED21 billion and cars worth a total of AED19.5 billion.  

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