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UAE Current Account Surplus Climbs Fourfold in 2011

Middle East : 20 May 2012

Source: Khaleej Times

The UAE’s current account surplus quadrupled to Dh112.7 billion ($30.7 billion) in 2011 as both crude and non-oil exports soared, the UAE Central Bank’s annual report showed.

The surplus surged to 8.5 per cent of gross domestic product last year from 2.4 per cent, or Dh26.6 billion, in 2010, according to a Reuters calculation.

The 2011 calculation is based on a GDP estimate by the International Monetary Fund since the UAE’s statistics office has yet to release GDP data for last year. The country’s 2010 balance of payments data has been revised.

Last year’s outcome is smaller than the IMF estimate for a surplus of 9.2 per cent of GDP, released following regular consultations with the country in February and March.

The value of UAE hydrocarbon exports surged nearly 50 per cent to Dh409.9 billion last year ($111 billion), helped by robust oil prices and higher output as a part of the OPEC drive to help cover shortfalls due to a civil war in Libya.

Crude accounted for 81 per cent of hydrocarbon exports of the UAE, one of the world’s top five oil exporters, with the rest almost evenly divided between gas and petroleum products.

A Reuters poll in March showed analysts expecting the UAE’s hydrocarbon export revenue of $110 billion in 2012.

Non-oil exports jumped 22 per cent to Dh228 billion, while re-exports rose 23 per cent to 396.5 billion, the data showed. Imports to the Arab world’s second-largest economy were also up 23 per cent last year at Dh742.4 billion.

Direct investment soared 40 per cent to Dh28.2 billion in 2011, the highest level since Dh50.4 billion in 2008. Remittances sent home by foreigners working in the UAE rose to Dh41.2 billion last year from Dh38.8 billion in 2010, the report showed.

The UAE, which has one of the highest incomes per capita globally, served as a safe haven for last year for foreign capital seeking a refuge from the wave of social unrest in the Middle East and North Africa.

The central bank’s foreign currency assets increased to Dh169.4 billion in 2011 from Dh153.4 billion in the previous year. Its investments abroad into highly-rated securities, government bonds and treasury bills rose to Dh72.3 billion from Dh68.4 billion in 2010, the report said. The UAE’s economic growth is forecast to ease to 3.1 per cent this year, a Reuters poll showed in March, from the IMF estimated 4.9 per cent in 2011, partly due to a global slowdown.

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