Dubai has cemented its position as a regional and global trading hub, as the world's trust in the emirate's potentials is leveraged in view of the highly developed infrastructure and efficient logistics and customs facilitations placed at the service of world trade flow.
Figures released by Dubai Customs have shown that the emirate has reinforced the diversity of its foreign trade in the first half of 2014, reflecting a key change in the commodity composition of trade to cope with the UAE's fast shift to a knowledge economy, which is based on smart technologies.
In keeping with the drive to implement the smart government and becoming the world's smartest city, phones and PCs scored a 17% share of the total value of Dubai's foreign trade in H1 2014.
Trading in phones recorded an 11% growth compared to the first half of 2013, amounting to Dh 85 billion compared to Dh 76 billion. Phones topped other commodities in Dubai's foreign trade, with China being the leading source for phone imports to Dubai, amounting to Dh 27 billion, while KSA was the main destination for phone re-exports with a value of Dh 8.5 billion. On the other hand, computers recorded a 9% growth at Dh 27 billion compared to Dh 24.6 billion. Trading in computers is faced with an increasing demand on smart IT hardware.
Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, Chairman of Ports, Customs and Free Zone Corporation, said: "The commodities and markets' diversity currently seen in Dubai's foreign trade is attributed to the strategic initiatives launched by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice-President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, to shift to a smart economy that puts Dubai on the fast track towards becoming the world's smartest city. These initiatives are accompanied by a rise in the trade of smart technologies to reflect the evolvement of the emirate's economy to the knowledge economy, keeping pace with the latest trends in world economy." The diversity of Dubai's foreign trade is being accompanied by noticeable expansion in the tourist sector. Over the first six months of 2014, the number of tourists who visited Dubai went up to 5.8 million.
With more tourists flocking into Dubai's jewellery souks, the emirate's jewellery trade increased 12% in H1 2014 to Dh 29.5 billion compared to Dh 26.4 in the same period last year.
Dubai's automotive foreign trade also climbed 31% from Dh 24.3 billion to Dh 32 billion, reflecting Dubai's leading position as a regional and global automobiles trading hub backed by the industry's fast growth in the local markets.
Petroleum oils' trade grew by 31% to Dh 20.5 billion against Dh 15.6 billion. The trade in helicopters and lightweight aircrafts saw a rise of 14% to reach Dh 9.4 billion against Dh 8.3 billion. Lightweight ships and floating equipment's trade grew more than twice (125%) to score Dh 3 billion compared to Dh 1.35 in the first half of 2013.
The upturn of real estate sector resonated in the growth of air conditioning's business by 53% to Dh 3.6 billion against Dh 2.4 billion in the first half of 2013.
The diversity of goods being traded across Dubai further positions the emirate on the global trade landscape. Dubai's foreign trade in H1 2014 totaled Dh 654 billion, with imports having the biggest share at Dh 408 billion, exports at Dh 59 billion and re-exports Dh 187 billion.
Ahmed Mahboob Musabih, Director of Dubai Customs, commented on these figures saying: "Dubai has invested a lot in foreign trade through many logistical development projects geared at serving the sector, particularly airports, seaports, free zones, roads, bridges and border facilities. At Dubai Customs, we strive to keep up with such infrastructure expansion by providing notch Customs services to traders and investors to save the time and effort needed to clear their consignments.
The Dubai Customs' Mirsal 2 system supported by the introduction of the new Risk Engine allowed the 24/7 electronic assessment and release of 84% of non-risky consignments within 2 minutes only without human intervention. Additionally, the smart services we have offered to customers since last year also minimised their transaction time using the facility of submitting service requests through mobiles and smart watches." He also added, " We are pursuing the development of our customs services towards boosting Dubai's competitiveness, saving no effort to cater new services in support of our clients' performance. For which, we have initiated the "Virtual Corridor" services, which are designated to facilitate consignments' transfer amongst Dubai ports and airports. We are maintaining our relentless efforts in developing our inspection operations, pertained in the Advanced Container Scanning System, which is the world's latest integrated system for mobile containers and trucks scanning and inspection; capable of scanning through 150 containers per hour. We have also introduced a new inspection reservation system geared toward aiding clients' with better time efficiency to request for inspection." Dubai's foreign trade markets extend to reach partners' from the five continents, spearheaded by China with a trade value for H1 2014 of Dh 80.5 billion, followed by India with Dh 53 billion, then USA with Dh 41 billion, and Dh 27 billion trade volume with the KSA.
The vividness of these markets plays a major role in anchoring the emirate's international trade position, which is more of an added value towards hosting EXPO 2020.
Ahmed Mahboob, further elaborated, " Dubai Customs is setting its plans towards providing better facilitation for exhibitors, traders and visitors for EXPO 2020. Seeking to eliminate any hurdles that may face the incoming consignments and/or passengers alike. Further measures shall be taken towards actuating this approach by utilising further collaboration and coordination with all government and private sector agencies, seeking to attain the highest levels of success for this para-global event. On the Customs part, we are further adapting our procedures and protocols via benchmarking and reflecting upon best practices. It shall also include the provision of a channel for clearance, designated for the clearance and concluding all transactions of the imported goods and consignments' to the EXPO.
In addition, exhibitors can benefit from the pre-clearance feature prior the actual arrival of goods. Moreover, a special 24/7 contact centre shall be established to meet the needs of the EXPO . Provision of on ground Customs offices and man force, for the purpose of catering the necessary services. As well, Dubai Customs shall introduce the temporary admission system, which is a Customs procedure allowing the permitted entry of goods for un utmost of one year, free from customs fees. Until the end of the purpose of admission after providing a guarantee from the source country in accordance with Istanbul Agreement foe Temporary Admission. Besides, numerous facilitations that shall be at the hands of participants at the EXPO."