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Fri 9 Dec 2016 12:53 AM

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UAE retains title of Middle East's top country for enabling trade

New World Economic Forum report ranks the UAE 23rd globally while Kuwait is named as region's most closed economy

UAE retains title of Middle East's top country for enabling trade

The UAE has retained its position as the Middle East's most open economy, enabling trade with markets across the world, according to a new report by the World Economic Forum.

The UAE was ranked 23rd globally, ahead of Bahrain in 42nd place while Kuwait was named the most closed economy in the Gulf, ranking a lowly 87th out of a total of 136 countries analysed.

Qatar (43rd), Oman (46th) and Saudi Arabia (67th) were also ranked by the report which said the Middle East and North Africa displayed vast disparities. Like in other parts of the world, the region’s commodity-rich economies systematically underperform other countries, it said.

Globally, Singapore, the Netherlands and Hong Kong topped the rankings.

The report featured the Enabling Trade Index, which assesses the performance of economies on domestic and foreign market access, border administration, transport and digital infrastructure, transport services and operating environment.  

It said ASEAN’s progress as an economic power comes at a time when the United States and European Union are becoming less open.

“Free trade remains the most powerful driver of global economic development and social progress. The challenge for leaders today is to confront protectionism but they also have a duty to make trade a source for more inclusive growth,” said Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum.

A finding of the report is that, despite popular perceptions, large swathes of the global population are still unable to participate in international trade or global value chains.

Larger emerging markets in particular fare poorly in the ETI, with China representing the only top-10 most-populous nation in the top half of the index.

“Businesses and entrepreneurs in many developing and emerging economies are being constrained from the global marketplace due to costly and inefficient border processes. Governments must consider trade facilitation reforms as a strategic priority to make trade work for all,” said Philippe Isler, director of the Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation.