DUBAI: The United Arab Emirates’ non-oil trade reached a record high 3.5 trillion dirhams ($952.93 billion) in 2023, Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum said on X on Sunday, reflecting the country’s initiatives to reduce its reliance on oil.

Trade in non-oil goods rose 12.6% from 2022, while exports of goods and services surpassed 1 trillion dirhams to set a new record, Thani Al Zeyoudi, minister of foreign trade, said in a separate social media post.

Since 2021, the Gulf oil exporter has initiated a raft of bilateral trade, investment and cooperation deals - called Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreements (CEPAs) - to bolster efforts aimed at diversifying income sources and economic sectors.

Zeyoudi told Reuters there had been no impact so far on the UAE of disruption to Red Sea shipping routes from Houthi attacks.

“We think our country will not be disturbed with that... we are in a good position, and it’s about how we are resilient, and the adaptability of the system here to face the challenges facing the world and the region,” Zeyoudi said in an interview.

The non-oil sector vastly outperformed overall GDP growth in the first six months of 2023, surging almost 6% compared to overall growth of 3.7%.

“CEPAs are going to play a major role on our foreign trade numbers moving forward,” Zeyoudi told Reuters, adding that UAE’s trade with its first CEPA partner, India, grew around 4% last year, while trade with Turkey more than doubled, the fastest growth among the UAE’s top 10 trade partners.

Expanding services sectors in UAE include travel and tourism, information and communication technology, financial services and professional services, while major non-oil exports include gold, aluminium, jewellery, copper wire and ethylene polymers.

The UAE’s non-oil commodity exports grew 16.7% last year to 441 billion dirhams, contributing 17.1% to foreign trade, up from 14.1% in 2019, Zeyoudi said in his social media post. Re-exports increased almost 7% to 690 billion dirhams.


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