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Sino-Gulf FTA 'may be signed this year' (2)

By BAO CHANG  (China Daily)

08:39, April 18, 2013

The UAE and Saudi Arabia are now major export destinations for China, with its exports to the two countries accounting for more than two-thirds of exports to the GCC.

China will overtake India to become the UAE's biggest trading partner by 2015, when trade between the two countries will reach $60 billion in value, Al Bitar said.

China is the UAE's second-largest trading partner, with trade between the two countries valued at $40 billion in 2012, according to the latest data from the UAE embassy.

"To a great extent, trade between China and the UAE will be further boosted by the FTA between China and the GCC," the ambassador said.

China mainly exports electronic products, steel and cameras to the UAE. The Gulf nation is planning to explore China's Muslim food market, valued at $2.5 billion in 2011 and increasing by 10 percent annually, according to a report from the UAE Ministry of Foreign Trade.

UAE foreign trade is expected to reach $449.6 billion in 2013, an 18 percent growth year-on-year. The country also plans to boost its exports of gold, jewelry and precious-metal products to the Asian, European and American markets.

China surpassed the United States to become the world's largest net importer of oil, rising to 6.12 million barrels in December last year, and that of the US dropping to 5.98 million barrels for the same period, according to Chinese customs and the US Energy Information Administration.

Jiang Shuzhu, professor at the economics school of Shandong Institute of Business and Technology, said: "Setting up an FTA with the GCC, an important global oil exporter, will ensure crude oil supply for China, so the FTA is regarded as China's oil guarantee."

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