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A study in the Economic Intelligence Unit (EIU) has stated that China is set to become the largest export market for the GCC by 2020, with Dubai being the key emirate to drive growth momentum
The study titled GCC Trade and Investment Flows, has explored the trade relations between the GCC and the rest of the world, and it has been found that China and India are leading the pack of Asian nations trading with the GCC. China, in particular, is likely to become the largest export market by 2020. Between 2010 and 2013, the trade between GCC and China grew faster than any other. By 2013, China-Dubai trade volumes reached US$36.5bn.
With more than 3,000 Chinese companies registered in Dubai and a host of rising trade, construction and retail opportunities, the emirate, in particular, is being viewed as a key Asian gateway to the Middle East.
Adam Green, senior editor at EIU EMEA, said, “Back in 2011, when we conducted our last study on the Gulf’s external economic relationships, it was clear that emerging markets were surging ahead as economic partners for the GCC. Since then, emerging Asia has continued on trend, especially China, despite the emerging markets slowdown. While oil continues to be a major trade driver, we are seeing greater commercial diversity, from China-built malls and markets in the Gulf, to Gulf investments in Asian mobile telecoms, real estate and financial services.”
India too, has a key role to play as a growing export market. GCC exports to India have maintained 43 per cent annual growth. In addition, investments from India remain a key driver for growth in the UAE.
Green added, "Perhaps the most important signal of growth in commercial ties is just not the flow of goods or money, but people, with an increasing number of Indians working in the Gulf. The numbers of new Indian businesses is also on the up, especially in the UAE. There is a lot of excitement at the moment about India finding its feet again and returning to its high growth path. If that happens, the Gulf region will be a clear beneficiary."
According to Hongbin Cong, managing director of Invest Dubai, Falcon and Associates, there is a new era of Asian growth as countries revisit and reinvest in the New Silk Road, with Dubai being at the centre. The emirate has a key role to play in driving the upward trajectory of GCC-Asia trade facilitated by the strength of its location, infrastructure and connectivity and as is evident by its links with China and India.
In 2013, China was Dubai’s second largest trading partner and is on course to overtake India after US$21.9bn of trade was recorded in the first six months of 2014, added Cong.