Dubai's Jafza facilitated $12.4bn of vehicle and transport commodities trade in 2021

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Dubai’s Jebel Ali Free Zone (Jafza) facilitated approximately $12.4 billion of vehicle and transport commodities trade through the emirate last year, it said on Wednesday.

The free zone accounted for nearly 40 per cent of Dubai's total trade in the sector, which stood at $31.3bn, Jafza said in a statement. It handled more than 1.2 million metric tonnes of the total volume of nearly 4.8 million metric tonnes of vehicle and transport commodities moved through the emirate last year.

Jafza, part of Dubai ports operator DP World, registered an increase in trade despite ports worldwide facing congestion because of Covid-related lockdowns and other restrictions.

"Dubai hosts the region’s biggest automotive trading hub and the largest used car market,” Jafza said. “Dubai’s strategic location between Europe, Asia and Africa, coupled with its unique logistics infrastructure has ensured the steady rise of the automotive sector,” it said.

The UAE’s used car market is expected to reach Dh112bn ($30.49bn) in revenue by 2025, driven by increasing demand, according to a report by Ken Research.

To support the market’s growth, Jebel Ali Port facilitates the export and import of used cars. Its roll-on, roll-off terminal can handle up to a million car equivalent units (CEUs). It can also store up to 27,000 CEUs within its quayside yards, including a multi-storey facility, the largest in the region, Jafza said.

Prior to import or export from the port, automotive manufacturers, dealers and importers can also use the pre-delivery inspection facilities in Jafza for services such as light accessory fitting, vehicle storage, washing, age prevention and audio system installation.

In June, Jafza opened Yiwu Market, the first smart free zone market in the Middle East, which was set up in line with the UAE's aim to facilitate trade by easing supply chain shortages after the pandemic.

With companies from 70 countries and a workforce of nearly 8,000, Jafza’s infrastructure and trade volumes are an attraction for industry majors such as Ford, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Volkswagen and Volvo, the statement said.

Jafza recorded a 19 per cent year-on-year increase in trade to Dh454.7bn ($123.8bn) in 2021, as its proximity to Jebel Ali Port and Al Maktoum International Airport helped the free zone facilitate the flow of goods during a challenging year.

It also recorded an increase of nearly 19 per cent in the number of new companies registered in 2021, bringing the total to more than 9,000. The UAE is boosting its trade volumes as it rebounds from the pandemic-induced slowdown on the back of government measures and higher oil prices.

The country's non-oil trade rose 17 per cent annually to about Dh1.053 trillion in the first half of the year, according to government data. This is the first time the country's non-oil trade exceeded Dh1tn, the data showed.

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