Monday, June 29, 2009

The Arab World Turns East

For the first time, China has surpassed the U.S. in exports to the Arab world. The Media Line headed to this week's sold-out 2009 China Sourcing Fairs in Dubai, billed as the ‘largest China-Products Exhibition in the Middle East.’

The colossal fair is a manifestation of a changing current in the Arab world away from Western imports and towards Eastern suppliers. Six halls were packed with everything from flatware to frying pans as more than 1,100 exhibitors touted electronics, fashion accessories, gifts and home products to buyers from all over the Middle East.

The growth in Chinese exports to the Arab world dates back to the 1990s, when the Chinese began approaching oil-rich Gulf States to try to secure sources of petroleum for their energy-hungry industries. During the process, the People's Republic discovered an incredibly rich market for Chinese exports.

In a survey of Middle Eastern companies attending the elaborate trade fair, Global Sources found that over half of the buyers plan to incorporate cheaper Chinese goods in their product mixes by more than 30 per cent in the next year.

Across numerous sectors, trade between China and Arab countries jumped by almost 100 billion U.S. dollars between 2004 and 2008. Iraqi-owned North Oil has signed a $3.5 billion contract with CNPC , a Chinese state-owned oil corporation; Jordan has signed a civil nuclear cooperation deal with China to supply nearly a third of the country's energy requirements by 2030, and the China State Construction Engineering Corporation is building the Skycourts development in UAE’s Dubailand under a $409 million contract.

While exhibition organizers said consumer electronics were the best represented sector, state and market analysts said interest in industrial machinery has recently boomed.