The Middle East Pivot to Asia 2022 report presents Asia House’s latest research on trade and investment trends between the Gulf and emerging Asia.
Produced by the Asia House Research and Advisory team, the report aims to help business leaders and policymakers better understand this pivotal shift in global trade, which will have far-reaching economic and geopolitical implications.
GCC-emerging Asia trade is set to reach approximately US$578bn by 2030, surpassing the trade with advanced economies by 2028, if current growth rates are maintained.
GCC-emerging Asia trade has recovered from the shock of COVID-19 faster than expected.
Several important milestones have been passed. GCC-China trade reached a record high and surpassed GCC trade with the US and Euro Area combined for the first time in 2021. China’s trade with Saudi Arabia stood at US$81.7bn in 2021, exceeding Riyadh’s trade with the US, the UK, and Euro Area combined (US$81.4bn).
Oil remains fundamental to the Pivot. Global oil prices closely track GCC-emerging Asia trade growth. Asian demand for oil is still expected to increase over the next few years despite higher prices. A sustained period of increased oil prices in 2022 will facilitate the Pivot.
GCC-Asia ties have evolved from being primarily based on the fossil fuel trade to a broader relationship that crosses into multiple sectors and fulfils the strategic objectives of both regions. We expect GCC-Asia cooperation on sustainability and renewables to increase at pace in the future, driving the Pivot and encouraging Gulf economic diversification.
Gulf economic and social reform is attracting foreign investment, expanding non-oil sectors that are benefiting from Asian expertise and investment, and encouraging Asian firms to relocate or expand into the Gulf.
Gulf SWF investment into Asia is growing, with India and ASEAN nations the major beneficiaries. The SWFs are opening new offices in Asia to monitor investments and seek new opportunities. We expect greater Gulf SWF investment to encourage political exchanges to protect these investments.