CAIRO/MOSCOW: Saudi Arabia’s non-oil exports rose by 26.8 percent in August from a year ago, rising to SR23 billion ($6.1 billion), according to the data released by the General Authority for Statistics on Monday.
The figures come as international trade began to bounce back from the COVID-related lockdowns and travel bans imposed around the world in 2020.
In August 2020, the Kingdom’s non-oil exports stood at SR18.1 billion. Growth was driven mainly by higher exports of plastics and chemicals, which surged by 56.6 percent and 66.2 percent year-on-year, respectively.
Non-oil exports, including re-exports, increased from SR18.9 billion in July 2021 by SR1.9 billion or 8.9 percent, GASTAT said in a press release.
China remained the primary destination of Saudi non-oil exports in August, having accounted for SR3.2 billion ($865 million) — up from SR2.7 billion in July.
Non-oil exports to the UAE rose by 8 percent to SR2.8 billion ($747 million) from SR2.6 billion in July.
India was the third major destination having accounted for SR1.6 billion ($429 million), up from SR1.4 billion in July, the data posted showed.
Saudi non-oil exports jumped 37 percent to a record SR125.3 billion in the first half of 2021, the Saudi Press Agency reported. Non-oil exports were SR91.7 billion in the first half of 2020.
They increased by 8 percent in quantity, equivalent to 34.7 million tons, suggesting a rebound in prices as volumes returned to normal.
Saudi Arabia is pushing to increase non-oil exports as it seeks to wean its economy off dependency on oil sales with a goal of raising the percentage of non-oil exports to 50 percent by 2030 and foreign direct investment from 3.8 percent to an international average of 5.7 percent.
The Kingdom is in negotiations with 11 countries on possible free-trade agreement, including China, India, Pakistan, Australia, New Zealand, Britain, Indonesia, the Philippines, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and the US.
The Kingdom aims to export services including transport, distribution, professional and financial services, communication services, postal services as well as express mail, media, hotel, construction and contracting, education and training, travel and tourism, environmental, and entertainment.
In August, the Saudi Export Development Authority said more than 900 Saudi companies with over 2,000 locally manufactured products had registered with the Kingdom’s “Made in Saudi” program, an initiative to boost the competitiveness of Saudi products at home and abroad.
The program gives top priority to 16 different economic sectors including chemicals and polymers, building materials, electronics, and packaging.
Additionally, the Saudi Exports Development Authority said in August it will identify over 120 international tendering opportunities in a number of target countries, mainly covering construction and industrial supplies and infrastructure projects.