UAE-US Economic Relationship

The United States and the UAE enjoy a robust trade and investment relationship, much of which now has little direct relationship to UAE oil exports. This is one of the fastest growing US economic partnerships, globally and in the Gulf region. In 2016, the US had a $19 billion trade surplus with the UAE, the US’ third largest trade surplus globally.

The UAE has one of the most open economies in the world. And its vigorous economic partnership with the United States reflects the UAE’s role as a regional leader in terms of economic reform, openness to international trade and investment, and political stability.

In 2012, the UAE and US partnered to form an Economic Policy Dialogue (EPD), which serves as a platform to develop initiatives that are intended to strengthen the economic, trade, and commercial relationships between the two countries.

Partners in a Globalized World

The volume of US exports and foreign direct investment into the UAE in recent years has grown dramatically and is likely to continue to grow in the future. This growth reflects the increasingly diversified UAE economy as well as the country's leading role as a modernizing influence in the Arab world.

  • The UAE is the United States’ single largest export market in the Middle East, with more than $22 billion in exports in 2016 – the eighth straight year the UAE has held this distinction.
  • The UAE has trade relations with every state in the United States, as well as the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.
  • The UAE pegs its currency, the dirham, to the dollar.
  • More than 1,500 US firms have a presence in UAE, from Bechtel and ExxonMobil to Starbucks and Cold Stone Creamery.

High Value Trade and Investment

The trade relationship between the UAE and the United States is characterized by a set of high-value trade and investment activities.

  • GlobalFoundries, a joint venture between AMD and Advanced Technology Investment Company (ATIC) of Abu Dhabi, opened a US-headquaretered semiconductor manufacturing company that includes a $4.2 billion semiconductor fabrication plant in upstate in New York in 2009. In 2014, ATIC announced an additional $10 billion investment to expand the facility. And in September 2016, GlobalFoundries announced plans to invest more than $2 billion in the production of 7-nanometer chips at the New York plant. GlobalFoundries supports more than 7,000 jobs in the Northeast US.
  • In 2014, UAE-based Gulftainer signed a 35-year agreement to operate a container and cargo terminal at Port Canaveral on Florida's east coast, representing an investment of up to $100 million in equipment and jobs.
  • The UAE is the largest operator of Boeing’s 777 aircraft. At the 2013 Dubai Airshow, UAE airlines made history with the largest-ever commercial aircraft order, buying more than 300 new Boeing aircraft with a value of over $120 billion. Etihad Airways has ordered 30 Boeing 787-10s.
  • In 2016, US startup incubator 1776 opened an office in Dubai – the DC-based organization’s first international location.
  • Westinghouse is taking part in a South Korean-led consortium that is building four nuclear reactors for commercial energy generation in the UAE. 
  • Emirati company Taqa Global has invested in a 205.5 megawatt Lakefield wind project in Jackson County, Minnesota. The field produces enough sustainable energy to power over 60,000 homes.
  • The Mubadala Development Company and General Electric have multiple cooperative projects, including an $8 billion joint venture in high technology.
  • In December 2010, the Mubadala Development Company made an additional investment of $500 million in the Carlyle Group general partnership. The Carlyle Group first sold Mubadala a 7.5 percent stake in its general partnership in September 2006.
  • The Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA) acquired an 11 percent share in the Hyatt Hotels Group in December 2009.

Through significant investments in the United States for over 30 years, the UAE has been a dependable and long-term contributor to the US economy, providing liquidity to US capital markets, growth for US companies, and job security for US workers.

UAE as Global Energy Supplier

  • US companies are heavily involved as partners and suppliers to UAE energy companies.
  • Abu Dhabi was the only OPEC member not to nationalize the holdings of foreign investors in the mid-1970s. Today international oil companies from the United States, Japan, France, Britain, and other countries continue to hold combined equity stakes of between 40 and 100 percent in Abu Dhabi’s vast oil concessions.
  • In addition to partnering with US companies on the development of its oil resources, the UAE is also a consumer of US-produced energy. The UAE has recently imported liquefied natural gas from US producers.
  • The UAE is making a $15 billion investment in clean energy technologies through its Masdar initiative. The country has also committed to increase renewable energy production to 27 percent of its national energy mix by 2021.
  • Reflecting the UAE’s renewable energy leadership, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) is headquartered in Abu Dhabi.
  • The UAE will continue its long tradition of responsible energy stewardship as it diversifies its economy, expands hydrocarbon reserves, and contributes to the development of alternative energy sources.

US-UAE Business Council

The UAE and the United States continue to explore ways to enhance and build upon an already robust trade relationship. The US-UAE Business Council, established in 2007, supports the expansion of the commercial relationship through business-to-business initiatives.

The UAE is enthusiastic about advancing the many new joint ventures and partnerships it has in place with major US companies. From a UAE perspective, constructive international partnerships and joint ventures can provide capacity and skills for the local economy, in addition to the traditional benefits of investment.

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