GCC Halal food imports set to jump to $53bn by 2020

Updated 08 November 2014

GCC Halal food imports set to jump to $53bn by 2020

The annual 9th Dubai International Food Safety Conference and Exhibition (DIFSC), being held in Dubai from tomorrow until Nov. 11, is organized by the Food Control Department of Dubai Municipality with the support of International Association for Food Protection (IAFP), International Union of Food Science and Technology (IUFoST) and Institute of Food Technologists.
The importance of this conference is the global food supply, which is getting increasingly complex. The increase of food safety challenges and reports of widespread food-borne illnesses require individuals and organizations to collaborate and collectively work to address them.
The conference aims discuss how people protect the highly complex and growing global food supply chain with innovation and a strong desire to change the way things are done to create a better future, according to its organizers.
"Halal food will be the focus of attention of this year’s conference,” said Hussain Nasser Lootah, director general of Dubai Municipality.
He said: “Halal food has an estimated annual global market value of $1 trillion, which equates to approximately 20 percent of a global food market predicted to reach $5.3 trillion by the end of 2014. Halal food imports into the GCC are set to jump from $25.8 billion in 2010 to $53.1 billion by 2020.”
He added: “Halal food imports into the UAE annually will reach $8.4 billion by the end of the decade.”
Khalid Sherif, director of food control department at Dubai Municipality, said: "This new initiative represents an engaging, value-added proposition for our global network of food manufacturers and traders.”
Halal food, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), is defined by Islamic law as lawful food permitted for consumption.
Halal food cannot consist of or contain anything which is considered unlawful under Islamic law and there are strict criteria governing the entire supply chain - from slaughtering of animals, processing and transportation to kitchen preparation and storage, he added.
The principal food inspection officer at Dubai Municipality, Bobby Krishna believes that "the four days at the conference will be spent on learning, discussion and constructive arguments and, above all, paving the way for sharing our responsibilities and challenges."

Record budget spurs Saudi economy

The budget sets out to lift spending and cut the deficit. (Shutterstock)
Updated 19 December 2018

Record budget spurs Saudi economy

  • “It is a growth-supportive budget with both capital and current expenditure set to rise.”
  • Government spending is projected to rise to SR 1.106 trillion

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia on Tuesday announced its biggest-ever budget — with spending set to increase by around 7 percent — in a move aimed at boosting the economy, while also reducing the deficit. 

However, analysts cautioned that the 2019 budget is based on oil prices far higher than today — which could prove an obstacle in hitting targets. 

Government spending is projected to rise to SR 1.106 trillion ($295 billion) next year, up from an actual SR 1.030 trillion this year, Minister of Finance Mohammed Al-Jadaan said at a briefing in Riyadh. 

The budget estimates a 9 percent annual increase in revenues to SR 975 billion. The budget deficit is forecast at SR 131 billion for next year, a 4.2 percent decline on 2018.

“We believe that the 2019 fiscal budget will focus on supporting economic activity — investment and wider,” Monica Malik, chief economist at Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB), told Arab News.

“It is a growth-supportive budget with both capital and current expenditure set to rise.”

A royal decree by Saudi Arabia’s King Salman, also announced on Tuesday, ordered the continuation of allowances covering the cost of living for civil sector employees for the new fiscal year.

“The continuation of the handout package will be positive for household consumption by nationals,” said Malik. “We expect to see some overall fiscal loosening in 2019, which should support a further gradual pickup in real non-oil GDP growth.”

World oil prices on Tuesday tumbled to their lowest levels in more than a year amid concerns over demand. Brent crude contracts fell to as low as $57.20 during morning trading.

Malik cautioned that the oil-price assumptions in the Saudi budget looked “optimistic.”

“We see the fiscal deficit widening in 2019, with the higher spending and forecast fall in oil revenue,” she told Arab News.

Jason Tuvey, an economist at London-based Capital Economics, agreed that the oil forecast was optimistic, but said this should not pose problems for government finances.

“The government seems to be expecting oil prices to average $80 (per barrel) next year,” he said. 

“In contrast, we think that oil prices will stay low and possibly fall a little further to $55 … On that basis, the budget deficit is likely to be closer to 10 percent of GDP. That won’t cause too many problems given the government’s strong balance sheet. 

“Overall, then, we think that there will be some fiscal loosening in the first half of next year, but if oil prices stay low as we expect, the authorities will probably shift tack and return to austerity from the mid-2019, which will weigh on growth in the non-oil sector,” Tuvey said.

John Sfakianakis, chief economist at the Gulf Research Center, based in Saudi Arabia, said that the targets of the budget were “achievable” and the forecast oil price reasonable. 

“It is an expansionary budget that should spurt private sector activity and growth,” he said. 

“With Brent crude averaging around $68 per barrel for 2018 and $66 per barrel for 2019, the authorities have applied a conservative revenue scenario.”