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Dubai Chamber: Strong opportunities to increase ASEAN food exports to the emirate

  • The UAE imports between 80 and 90% of the total food it consumes.

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  • Hamad Buamim: “Food security, along with climate change, constitute the most urgent global problem.”

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The Dubai Chamber has released an analysis showing the important role that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) can play in enhancing the food security of the UAE.

The analysis shows that there are strong and important opportunities to increase the exports of "ASEAN countries" of food to the Emirate of Dubai.

The issuance of this analysis comes on the sidelines of the preparations for the organization of the first session of the Global Business Forum for ASEAN countries, organized by the Dubai Chamber, in cooperation with “Expo 2020 Dubai”, on next Wednesday and Thursday (the eighth and ninth of this December), under the slogan “Cross-Border Economic Partnerships”. .

The forum aims to explore the changing dynamics witnessed by the countries of this region, and to monitor the opportunities available to stimulate trade, business and investment activities between the UAE and these countries.

Food and drinks

The analysis of "Dubai and ASEAN Trade in Food and Beverage" examines the areas in which the 10 ASEAN countries can contribute to the food and beverage sector in the UAE.

The Dubai Chamber stresses the importance of this issue, given that the country imports between 80 and 90% of the total food it consumes.

In this context, Hamad Mubarak Buamim, Director General of the Dubai Chamber, said: “One of the most important pillars of the UAE National Food Security Strategy 2051 is to diversify its international sources of food.

This has proven important during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has significantly impacted global supply chains.

As a country witnessing a growing population, the importance of finding markets to import food products is becoming a national priority.

Buamim added: "The analytical study - prepared by the Dubai Chamber - aims to shed light on the gaps in food trade, in order to help traders in the Association of ASEAN countries and importers and exporters in Dubai and the UAE in general.

Food security, along with climate change, constitutes the most pressing global problem, so it is very important to identify the main areas for improving bilateral trade relations in the field of food, to ensure the availability of sufficient food supplies for all.

"ASEAN countries"

The analysis shows that there are strong and important opportunities to increase the exports of "ASEAN countries" of food to the Emirate of Dubai.

According to Dubai Customs figures, Dubai’s imports of food and beverages (excluding tobacco) from “ASEAN countries” amounted to 2.99 billion dirhams in 2020, an average of 8.4% less than in 2019, as a result of the restrictions imposed by “ASEAN countries” on food exports, due to the pandemic. "Covid-19", as Vietnam banned the export of rice, and Thailand placed restrictions on the export of eggs.

Dubai's exports of food and beverages to "ASEAN" countries in 2020 amounted to 577.8 million dirhams, and they grew at a compound annual growth rate of 2.4 percent during the period (2011-2020).

As for the value of Dubai's re-exports to "ASEAN" countries, it achieved a compound annual growth rate of 1.5% during the same period.

The analysis shows that the UAE was the second largest importer of foodstuffs from “ASEAN countries” among the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council, with a share of 34% in 2020. While the share of “ASEAN countries” in Dubai World imports of food and beverages was 6.9% in 2020. With the permission to increase exports, the ASEAN countries were able to increase their share in Dubai's food imports, thus contributing to enhancing the food security of the UAE.

With regard to Dubai’s partnerships with each of the “ASEAN countries”, the Dubai Chamber indicated that the emirate faced a deficit in its trade balance of food and beverages with all “ASEAN countries” except for Singapore (70 million dirhams), Cambodia (15.8 million dirhams), and Brunei (2.9 million dirhams).

Dubai imports

Thailand acquired the highest share of Dubai's imports of food and beverages from ASEAN countries last year at 22%, followed by Vietnam and Indonesia with 20%, Malaysia 18%, and the Philippines by 10%.

Together, these five countries accounted for 90% of Dubai's imports of food and beverages from the ASEAN region in 2020.

As for products, the Dubai Chamber's analysis indicates that "ASEAN countries" contributed 70 percent of Dubai World's total imports of palm oil and prepared fish, in addition to a third of its imports of coffee and tea extracts.

In addition, ASEAN countries export to Dubai: avocado, mango, banana, pineapple, dried legumes, and coconut.

The analysis indicated that ASEAN traders have a greater opportunity to increase their exports to Dubai.

The analysis indicated that there are great opportunities in terms of exporting rice to Dubai, pointing out that ASEAN traders can use Dubai as a center for re-export and increase their exports to the countries of the Middle East and Africa, taking advantage of the advanced logistics and infrastructure provided by the emirate.

• The UAE is the second largest importer of foodstuffs from the "ASEAN" countries among the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council.

Thailand is Dubai's largest partner

Dubai Chamber's analysis showed that Thailand emerged as the largest partner of the Emirate of Dubai, as it accounted for a third of Dubai's total exports of food and beverages to ASEAN countries, followed by Malaysia 23%, Vietnam 19%, and Singapore 10%.

Singapore represented Dubai's largest partner in re-exporting food and beverage products to ASEAN countries in 2020, with a share of 54%.

Among the other prominent re-export partners of Dubai, from the ASEAN region: Vietnam and Malaysia with 16%, and Thailand with 7%.

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