Special Features

UAE Owns one third of the World’s Trade of Dates

UAE owned third of the world’s trade of dates, coming in first in exports, and second in imports of this agricultural product in 2009, according to an official study The Ministry of Foreign Trade has issued an analytical study on the domestic and international trade of dates as part of a series of extensive studies that aim at assisting in the UAE’s policy and decision making process.

The study, which was prepared by Dr. Abdel Hamid Radwan, under the supervision of Dr. Mattar Awad, the director of the Ministry’s Trade Analysis and Information Department, affirmed that :’’ While the UAE owns 33% of the world’s exports of dates, Iraq came in second at 22%. Both countries combined where thus the owners of more than half of the global exports of dates.

As for imports, UAE imports of dates constituted 31.5% of the global share, second only to India, which possessed a slightly larger share of 31.6%.

The study also revealed that the overall global exports of dates in 2009, estimated at 807 thousand tons, had witnessed an 18% decrease in comparison to the year 2008.

The UAE’s Trade in Dates Through analyzing the UAE’s data on foreign trade in dates for the first 10 months of 2010, the study revealed that there has been a 16% decline in the value, and a 32% decrease in the volume of traded dates in comparison with the same period in 2009.

This occurred due to a simultaneous decline in exports, re-exports and imports during that period.

However, the UAE’s top global ranking in the trade of this global agricultural product is clear testament to the UAE’s continued prominence in Foreign Trade, especially that the country spearheads the trade of numerous international commodities due to its pivotal role in the flow and movement of international trade between the world’s areas of production and consumption.

Exports The UAE exported a total of 266 thousand tons of dates in 2009, registering a 12% increase of 28 thousand tons from 2008. Simultaneously, the value of these exports also increased by 9% from USD 69 million in 2008 to USD 75 million in 2009.

Exports of this commodity have thus achieved growth at a time when global exports had witnessed a decline.

India is considered the largest importer of UAE dates, importing around 193 thousand tons (73% of all UAE date exports) followed by Bangladesh, which imported 32 thousand tons (12% of the UAE’s date exports) in 2009.

Moreover, further analysis of available data also revealed that the average price/ton of exported UAE dates was USD 300, which is close to the price of Iraqi and Pakistani dates exported to India, at USD 301/ton and USD 350/ton respectively.

Imports The UAE imported 286 thousand tons of dates in 2009, up by 26% from 2008. It also registered a 48% increase in the value of its date imports.

Iraq, at 84%, and Iran, at 11%, were the primary sources of the UAE’s imports of dates.

The Production and Consumption of Dates The study revealed that the total amount of domestic date consumption was 745 thousand tons, 94% of which was domestically produced, with the remaining 6% imported, while 81% of what was imported was re-exported while only 7% of the domestically produced dates were exported, which is considered a low percentage. Also noted was the fact that the local consumption of dates is 14 times higher than what is being exported.

This underlines the importance of supporting and encouraging the production of dates for export purposes.

The Prospects of Exporting to the European Market The study also revealed that although the UAE’s exports of dates to Europe are currently low, the EU market is promising due to the fact that the average price/ton of dates imported into Europe is USD 2800.

France, the UK and Germany have been identified as the top European importers of dates, which they currently import from countries such as Tunisia, Iran and Pakistan.

The Palm Tree in the UAE Palm trees are indigenous to the Arabian peninsula for their ability to withstand the arid desert climate, low precipitation and high salinity.

The country’s leadership has placed a great emphasis on developing and maintaining palm trees and date production in the UAE. Many national programs and prizes have been dedicated towards promoting date production.

The study estimates that there are around 40 different kinds of dates being produced in the UAE today.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), global date production in 2008 was 7.1 million tons. 3 Million of which were produced by the world’s top 20 date producing nations. Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia were the top three global producers, while the UAE came in fourth with a total production of 755 thousand tons, or 11% of global production.

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