UAE tops WEF Mena trade index report

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Nation up three places regionally and 16th globally; survey says trade volumes set to increase

The UAE was ranked top in the Middle East and North Africa region and 16th internationally by the Global Enabling Trade Report 2014.

The UAE climbed three places from its overall ranking in 2012, according to the report released on Tuesday by the World Economic Forum, or WEF.

The Enabling Trade Index, the core of the Global Enabling Trade Report, measures the factors, policies and services that facilitate the trade in goods across borders and to destination. It is made up of four sub-indexes: market access, border administration, transport and communications infrastructure, and business environment.

Each of these sub-indexes contains two to three pillars that assess different aspects of a country’s trade environment.

According to the report, the UAE ranked first internationally in the transport and communications infrastructure and 13th globally among 135 countries in terms of the business environment sub-index, and achieved advanced positions in other sub-indexes.

In March, the UAE scored highest in the HSBC Trade Confidence Index. The near-term trade prospects of the UAE was found very favourable based on a survey of 5,800 exporters, importers and traders from small and mid-market enterprises. Confidence amongst businesses in the UAE on the short-term outlook for trade has reached an all-time high since 2009 — jumping nine points to 141, according to the latest HSBC Trade Confidence Index.

The UAE scored the highest amongst countries surveyed across the globe. An overwhelming 83 per cent of respondents expect trade volumes to increase over the next six months, of which 49 per cent expect a significant pick up in trade. The positive sentiment has been primarily fuelled by a general increase in global demand or in particular key markets.

While oil and demand supply will continue to be crucial in determining the UAE’s trade position, HSBC also expects to see infrastructure and construction, tourism, retail and government investment in technology to be the main drivers for UAE. Dubai’s successful bid to host Expo 2020 will also have a key role to play in this as the event catapults the country into the centre of the global stage.

The half-yearly HSBC Global Connections Trade Forecast report notes that in the long term, India and China will remain the UAE’s fastest-growing trade routes until 2030 — growing at 10 per cent per annum. Turkey and Saudi Arabia will also become increasingly important sources of demand. Focus on the emerging markets also extends to the import side, although the US and Europe will remain high sources of demand.

According to a consumer confidence report released by Nielsen in February, the UAE ranks as the fifth-highest in terms of consumer confidence, behind Indonesia, India, the Philippines and China. The report also states that in the Mena region, consumer confidence dropped by two per cent in the fourth quarter of 2013. This is almost negligent when compared to those countries in the EU or in the US.

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