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Sharjah Economy


Sharjah's economy continues to grow off the back of a robust manufacturing sector which contributes almost half of the UAE's industrial capacity, close international trade relations and a well-developed infrastructure. Indeed, the emirate has been a major contributor to the UAE's economic success since it came into being 37 years ago, with record economic growth in 2006 seeing Sharjah's economy expand by 19.9% from $9.5bn to $11.6bn, according to Sharjah Economic Development Department (SEDD) figures. Much of this success can be attributed to the creation of the 10m-sq-metre Hamriyah Free Zone, which was constructed in 1995 and is home to 1100 companies and rising. Projects such as this are attracting overseas investment; indeed, Hamriyah is one of the only places in the UAE that permits 100% foreign ownership of businesses and properties, as well as complete import and export tax exemption. Foreign investors are also being attracted by the relatively low prices of energy and water, kept at affordable rates by large government subsidies and the low cost of land in the emirate which, although rising, remains far cheaper than neighbouring Dubai. The government is focusing increasingly on public-private sector partnerships and has launched a campaign to remove unnecessary red tape to encourage trade and investment. On the international trade stage, Sharjah is forging closer links with Pakistan, China and South Africa.

UAE Overview

Economy - overview :
The UAE has an open economy with a high per capita income and a sizeable annual trade surplus. Successful efforts at economic diversification have reduced the portion of GDP based on oil and gas output to 25%. Since the discovery of oil in the UAE more than 30 years ago, the UAE has undergone a profound transformation from an impoverished region of small desert principalities to a modern state with a high standard of living. The government has increased spending on job creation and infrastructure expansion and is opening up utilities to greater private sector involvement. In April 2004, the UAE signed a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement with Washington and in November 2004 agreed to undertake negotiations toward a Free Trade Agreement with the US, however, those talks have not moved forward. The country's Free Trade Zones - offering 100% foreign ownership and zero taxes - are helping to attract foreign investors. The global financial crisis, tight international credit, falling oil prices, and deflated asset prices caused GDP to drop nearly 4% in 2009. UAE authorities have tried to blunt the crisis by increasing spending and boosting liquidity in the banking sector. The crisis hit Dubai hardest, as it was heavily exposed to depressed real estate prices. Dubai lacked sufficient cash to meet its debt obligations, prompting global concern about its solvency. In February 2009, Dubai launched a $20 billion bond program to meet its debt obligations. The UAE Central Bank and Abu Dhabi-based banks bought the largest shares. In December 2009 Dubai received an additional $10 billion loan from the emirate of Abu Dhabi. Dependence on oil and a large expatriate workforce are significant long-term challenges. The UAE's strategic plan for the next few years focuses on diversification and creating more opportunities for nationals through improved education and increased private sector employment.

GDP (purchasing power parity) :
$201.4 billion (2009 est.)

GDP (official exchange rate) :
$231.3 billion (2009 est.)

GDP - real growth rate :
-3.5% (2009 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP) :
$42,000 (2009 est.)

GDP - composition by sector :
agriculture: 1.1%
industry: 48.6%
services: 50.2% (2009 est.)

Labour force :
3.168 million
note: expatriates account for about 85% of the work force (2009 est.)

Labour force - by occupation :
agriculture: 7%
industry: 15%
services: 78% (2000 est.)

Unemployment rate :
2.4% (2001)

Population below poverty line :
19.5% (2003)

Household income or consumption by percentage share :
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%

Investment (gross fixed) :
28.9% of GDP (2009 est.)

Budget :
revenues: $54.05 billion
expenditures: $54.68 billion (2009 est.)

Public debt :
47.2% of GDP (2009 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices) :
1.5% (2009 est.)

Central bank discount rate :

Stock of money :
$49.5 billion (31 December 2007)

Stock of quasi money :
$155.4 billion (31 December 2007)

Market value of publicly traded shares :
$97.85 billion (31 December 2008)

Agriculture - products :
dates, vegetables, watermelons; poultry, eggs, dairy products; fish

Industries :
petroleum and petrochemicals; fishing, aluminum, cement, fertilisers, commercial ship repair, construction materials, some boat building, handicrafts, textiles

Industrial production growth rate :
-6.7% (2009 est.)

Electricity - production :
71.54 billion kWh (2007 est.)

Electricity - consumption :
65.98 billion kWh (2007 est.)

Electricity - exports :
0 kWh (2008 est.)

Electricity - imports :
0 kWh (2008 est.)

Oil - production :
3.046 million bbl/day (2008 est.)

Oil - consumption :
463,000 bbl/day (2008 est.)

Oil - exports :
2.7 million bbl/day (2007 est.)

Oil - imports :
192,900 bbl/day (2007 est.)

Oil - proved reserves :
97.8 billion bbl (1 January 2009 est.)

Natural gas - production :
50.24 billion cu m (2008 est.)

Natural gas - consumption :
59.42 billion cu m (2008 est.)

Natural gas - exports :
7.567 billion cu m (2008 est.)

Natural gas - imports :
16.75 billion cu m (2008 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves :
6.071 trillion cu m (1 January 2009 est.)

Current account balance :
$2.558 billion (2009 est.)

Exports :
$174 billion (2009 est.)

Exports - commodities :
crude oil 45%, natural gas, reexports, dried fish, dates

Exports - partners :
Japan 26.5%, South Korea 10.9%, India 10.7%, Iran 7.5%, Thailand 6.1% (2008)

Imports :
$141 billion (2009 est.)

Imports - commodities :
machinery and transport equipment, chemicals, food

Imports - partners :
China 12.9%, India 12%, US 8.6%, Germany 6.4%, Japan 6%, Turkey 4.4%, Italy 4.2% (2008)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold :
$33.7 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Debt - external :
$128.6 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - at home :
$67.69 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad:
$30.95 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Exchange rates:
Emirati dirhams (AED) per US dollar - 3.673 (2009), 3.6725 (2008), 3.6725 (2007), 3.6725 (2006), 3.6725 (2005)
note: officially pegged to the US dollar since February 2002





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