Strong Economic Partners
With one of the most open and innovative economies in the world, the United Arab Emirates is a dependable and significant economic partner of the United States. The UAE is the United States’ number one export market in the Middle East region — a distinction the UAE has held for eleven straight years. During the past decade, bilateral trade has nearly doubled, exceeding $24 billion in 2019. The US has a $15.7 billion trade surplus with the UAE, the US’ third largest trade surplus globally. These economic exchanges support hundreds of thousands of American jobs and contribute to growth for US companies.
Beyond trade, UAE investments in the US support the creation of local jobs and provide liquidity to capital markets that spur innovation and advancements in many sectors, including aerospace, manufacturing, high technology, real estate and logistics. According to SelectUSA, UAE Foreign Direct Investment in the US grew to $26.7 billion in 2018 and supported roughly 11,800 American jobs.
In 2018, UAE port-operator Gulftainer agreed to a 50-year lease with the State of Delaware to operate the Port of Wilmington. Gulftainer plans to double the port’s shipping volume and construct a new container facility in nearby Edgemoor. The company will invest $580 million in the project over 10 years, creating approximately 6,000 jobs. This comes in addition to Gulftainer’s existing 35-year agreement to operate a terminal at Port Canaveral, Florida, representing a $100 million investment in equipment and jobs.
More than 1,500 US firms have a presence in the UAE, from Bechtel to ExxonMobil and Starbucks to Cold Stone Creamery. Major global companies — such as Lockheed Martin, General Electric, Boeing, Heinz, Northrop Grumman, General Motors, Microsoft, FedEx and Halliburton – recognize the opportunities offered by the UAE economy, and many base their headquarters and regional offices in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. The UAE is an advantageous location for American companies due to its business-friendly environment and its diversified economy (with 66 percent of the country's economic activity coming from non-oil sectors, according to the IMF).