Asia oil demand to lift GDP, export growth in UAE and Saudi: HSBC

06 March 2013
Oil revenues are expected to underpin GDP and export growth in the UAE and Saudi Arabia in the coming years - with greatest demand coming from Asia, according to an HSBC trade forecast.

Assuming that the political situation in Egypt gradually stabilises, the Egyptian economy will benefit from lower energy costs, and together with some economic rebound, this should help export growth to average around 12% a year from 2013 to 2015.

Tim Reid, regional head (commercial banking, HSBC Middle East and North Africa) said, "Looking at this quarter's data, we see two key themes emerging at a regional level. First, Asia continues to be of increasing importance in terms of exports and imports for Mena due to its growing energy demands. Second, developing infrastructure within the region is enabling a long term shift away from exporting petroleum to petroleum products, chemicals, textiles, transport equipment and industrial machinery. Continued political upheavals and dependence on oil prices dictates that headwinds remain, but with the region already tracking these strong trends for positive growth, its long term prospects remain promising"

The UAE's exports will remain dominated by oil and related products - growing rapidly towards consumers such as India and China. Together with Vietnam, they will be the fastest-growing markets for exports from the UAE in 2016-20 and in 2021-30, according to the forecast.

Goods such as gold and mineral manufactures will also make strong contributions. The composition of UAE's imports will continue to diversify in the years ahead - dominated by industrial machinery contributing 15% to total imports and transport equipment contributing 10% over the forecasted period.

Saudi Arabian exports will continue to be dominated by petroleum and petroleum products, contributing approximately 2.5% to the 7% annual growth in total exports forecast for the decade to 2030. Associated plastics will contribute 1.8% to this growth over the same period and chemicals around 0.8%, HSBC said.

As with the UAE, Asian economies such as China, India and Vietnam will remain key for Saudi in the long term - but exports will also rise strongly to those economies with large populations and an associated heavy demand for energy. These include Poland, Turkey, Brazil and, when its economy starts to recover, Egypt. Import growth will also be strong - dominated by industrial machinery and transport equipment.

In Egypt, petroleum products and natural gas have traditionally had a large share of total exports, but the country is forecast to steadily diversify out of these resource-based sectors as production slows down, the report said. The country's rapidly developing chemicals industry is expected to become Egypt's primary export sector, with 18% annual growth forecast for the next few years, slowing only slightly to around 13-14% for the remainder of the forecast horizon out to 2030. Textile, wood and mineral manufactures will also see double digit growth over the forecasted period.

Fadi Fattal, head (commercial banking) at HSBC Bank Middle East (Qatar) said: "We have seen a significant increase in Qatar's trade flows over the past year. This has been on the back of increased activity in the country's infrastructure developments, and investment in the health and education sectors. In addition, we have seen growth in the vehicle imports, FMCG and electronics sectors. The petrochemical export sector also continues to flourish. Qatar's main trading partners for exports and imports remain the UAE, China, UK, Germany, Japan and India. We are positive about Qatar's outlook and will continue to grow and evolve to suit the needs of our customers."

By 2030 the top goods exported by at least half of the world's main trading nations will change, with a trend towards exporting higher value added goods. As companies import new materials to fuel these emerging industries, the findings show a corresponding shift in the shape of import trends.

© Gulf Times 2013


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