International trade is key for many economies and businesses across the world and the UAE plays an important part of this, having been a World Trade Organisation member since 1996. The UAE has significant relationships with some of the largest import and export partners in the world such as China, India and the USA. As a result of this businesses based on the imports of products from other key countries are successfully establishing themselves in the country resulting in the growth of essential import trade services such as shipping guarantees and financing, further creating business opportunities for those who have interests in importing and exporting.


Almost half of the UAE’s imports come from 5 specific countries, these are, in order; China, India, The United States, Japan and Germany. The primary products of the imports are textiles, transport and machinery, food items, pearls, precious metals and chemicals. The import industry has grown and between 2000 and 2012, December 2012 saw a record high of 814889million AED.


Last year (2012) the total exports of The UAE accounted for an estimated $300.6 billion, showing the export industry of the country is strong. This could be said to be due to diversification which has taken place over the last few years from crude oil and natural gas to include dried fish, dates and reexports. In addition to these further opportunities have been created by businesses looking beyond external trade and investing in sectors such as finance and the booming tourist industry. The UAE’s top export product has been crude oil exported to their top export partners such as Japan, Thailand and South Korea.

When both imports and exports are taken into account you find that the UAE’s top trading partner is India. 13.4% of exports were heading to India in 2012 and the UAE imported 17% of trade.