Gold was on a winning streak as it topped Dubai's exports in the first nine months of last year amounting to Dh45 billion on the back of high demand from India and a bullish market, latest statistics and analysts say.
Unwrought, worked and semi-manufactured gold also topped the list of Dubai's imports with Dh58.9 billion from January to September last year, according to Dubai Customs statistics released yesterday.
As an investment haven and a quick way to liquidate assets, gold saw rising demand during this period: Dubai's reputation for the quality of gold, structure for gold trading and tax-free transactions also made the precious metal more attractive, said Pradeep Unni, Senior Relationship Manager at the Dubai-based commodities trading firm Richcomm Global Services DMCC.
"Gold was on the rally up until mid-September and the market was bullish, there was no looking back for trading activity. A lot of people were buying gold for investment purposes and Dubai, being a large trading centre for gold trade historically, had the biggest share of activity," he said "Equity was not doing well and everyone was looking at gold as an option."
India emerged as Dubai's top trading partner with exports to Dubai reaching Dh66 billion or 20.25 per cent of all other countries. India also came first in imports from Dubai with more than Dh28 billion.
"Indian demand for gold was high in the third quarter. After that the rupee became weaker and exports from Dubai to India declined," Unni said. The fourth quarter of last year could record a slight drop in gold exports from Dubai to India due to the weakened rupee, he added.
Dubai's total non-oil trade, which includes direct trade, free zone trade, and customs warehouse trade, exceeded Dh814 billion at the end of the third quarter of 2011, an increase of 23 per cent over the same period of 2010 when it reached Dh661 billion.
"The trade values reflect Dubai's pre-eminent position as the regional trade hub. WTO expects world merchandise exports to increase by 5.8 per cent in volume terms in 2011. Developed economies' exports are expected to rise by 3.7 per cent.
"Meanwhile, shipments from developing economies are estimated to increase by 8.5 per cent," said Giyas Gokkent, chief economist at the National Bank of Abu Dhabi.
According to the WTO, he said exports have levelled off recently in many developed economies or, in the case of Germany and France, fallen.
On the other hand, trade flows of developing economies have mostly remained strong, and year-on-year growth rates for China's trade flows actually accelerated through August.
"For the moment, it appears that the trade slowdown is mostly confined to developed economies, especially in Europe," said Gokkent.
The emirate's non-oil direct foreign trade reached Dh523 billion in the first nine months of 2011 compared to same period of 2010, according to Dubai Customs.
This was a record figure that was not achieved in the past three years of the economic downturn, said Ahmad Butti Ahmad, the Executive Chairman of Ports, Customs and Free Zone Corporation, Director General of Dubai Customs.
Free zone trade was Dh287 billion compared to Dh234 billion in the same period last year and the warehouse trade achieved Dh4 billion compared to Dh2.4 billion.
According to recent statistics on direct foreign trade issued by Dubai Customs, the growth in the first nine months of 2011 increased 21 per cent (Dh326 billion) in imports, 43 per cent (Dh72 billion) in exports, and 18 per cent (Dh125 billion) in re-exports compared to same period in 2010.
Top exporters to Dubai after India included China with Dh35.5 billion, or 10.9 per cent, followed by US with Dh27 billion or 8.3 per cent, Japan Dh12.9 billion or 3.95 per cent, UK Dh12.65 or 3.88 per cent.
In all, the top five exporting countries to Dubai exceeded Dh154 billion which is more than 47 per cent.
India also came first in imports from Dubai, followed by Switzerland and Saudi Arabia.