posted on 09/09/2012: 613 views
The Abu Dhabi Government has called for another big export push, despite releasing figures showing more than 2,000 companies in the emirate are selling goods abroad.
A further 74 per cent of firms in the capital have been identified as potential exporters, meaning they are ready to make the next step from selling locally to overseas. The data relates to non-oil businesses only.
"We are screening companies to see if they're ready to export and if they are, we are helping them with advice and guidance to make the step up," said Adeeb Alafifi, the director of foreign trade and exports at the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (Added).
"The plan is to increase non-oil exports today from 1 per cent of GDP to 11 per cent by 2030."
Under the Abu Dhabi 2030 Economic Vision, the Government is aiming to raise the level of non-oil exports as it strives to break its reliance on hydrocarbon revenues.
Abu Dhabi has a non-oil trade deficit of Dh46 billion (US$12.52bn) and officials want to balance those figures by 2028. In a move to help hit that target, Added is increasing its efforts to help companies planning to export their goods.
The government organisation will guide them through the process of identifying foreign buyers and overcoming customs barriers as well as logistical issues.
Vision Furniture and Decoration Factory is one such company moving into the export market. The manufacturer of interior lighting and decorations already trades with hotels, offices and residential buildings in the UAE. It plans to open an office in Qatar this year.
"A lot of construction is going on in Qatar and the more that's happening, the more we can capitalise on that," said Ashok Kumar, the company's chief accountant.
Mr Kumar hopes the Qatar market will help the company raise its exports from Dh60 million this year to Dh100m next year.
The GCC market is also being targeted by the fashion designer Aysha Al Dhaheri. Her company, Oushi Fashion Designing, designs and sells abayas and nightgowns to the UAE market exclusively.
"I'm coordinating with Added to find the market capacity in Saudi Arabia and I'm visiting next month to find out more about the market," said Ms Al Dhaheri, whose business is based in Al Ain. "The designs have to be different to reflect society in Saudi Arabia."
Added has asked companies to tell the organisation if they are exporting. Last month, 2,121 businesses were exporting goods. A further 1,579 were rated as potential exporters.
"These are the current numbers of companies we are aware of but most probably the number is higher still and we hope the number will grow year-on-year," said Mr Alafifi.
Officials also want to diversify the range of non-oil goods sold overseas as a large portion of exports are heavily skewed towards metals. In contrast, few of the capital's companies export services.
"There's plenty to be done to try to diversify exports but I think it will be a long-term thing as oil will continue to be a big part of the Abu Dhabi economy for the long term," said Giyas Gokkent, the chief economist of National Bank of Abu Dhabi.
Other proposals to help grow the emirate's exports are still in their infancy.
For three years, Abu Dhabi has been planning to establish an export credit agency with the aim of providing financial assistance to exporters. Mr Alafifi said the plans were still at an early stage.
"It needs a budget and it needs to be reviewed," said Mr Alafifi. – The National
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