Kingdom imports 80% of food products

Updated 19 April 2014
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Kingdom imports 80% of food products

Saudi Arabia is importing 80 percent of its food requirements from foreign countries while the remaining 20 percent of foods are locally produced, local media said quoting a report released by the World Bank.
On average, the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) countries are importing 90 percent of food products from other countries. Qatar topped the GCC in terms of their dependence on foreign imports at 97 percent, followed by Bahrain at 92 percent, Kuwait (91 percent), and the UAE and Oman at 89 percent each, the report said.
Meanwhile, experts said political developments in Ukraine have a negative impact on the prices of agro commodities, as it produces 16 percent and 9 percent of global maize and wheat exports, respectively, the report said.
Accordingly, prices of maize and wheat have increased by 20 percent and 13.5 percent since the beginning of the current year, the report said.
On the other hand, the rate of self-sufficiency in the GCC countries is expected to drop in the next few years. The cost of supporting wheat production in Saudi Arabia exceeded SR5 billion annually in the period 1984-2000, the report said.
Poor soil condition, water scarcity and bad weather conditions have raised wheat production costs to become four times higher than global levels though the Kingdom remained the 6th largest wheat exporter in 1992, according to the report.
However, due to depletion of ground water by farmers, the Saudi authorities were forced to abandon the policy of increasing domestic production and, accordingly, production began to decline as from 2008 and expected to cease fully by 2016, the report said.
Taking into consideration the above facts, development of a sustainable agro sector is highly costly and ineffective, and the GCC countries have to look for other alternatives to increase food security, the exports said.
Among these alternatives are storing food products and acquisition of agro lands outside the region. Africa, notably the Sudan, captured the concern of investors, be they individuals or corporate.
The GCC investors purchased more than 2 million hectares of lands in the Sudan between 2006 and 2012, or three times of lands they bought in Australia, the second largest recipient of Gulf investments, the report said.


UK core pay growth strongest in nearly 11 years, but jobs growth slows

Data showed the unemployment rate remained at 3.8 percent as expected. (Shutterstock)
Updated 16 July 2019
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UK core pay growth strongest in nearly 11 years, but jobs growth slows

  • Core earnings have increased by 3.6 percent annually, beating the median forecast of 3.5 percent
  • The unemployment rate fell by 51,000 to just under 1.3 million

LONDON: British wages, excluding bonuses, rose at their fastest pace in more than a decade in the three months to May, official data showed, but there were some signs that the labor market might be weakening. Core earnings rose by an annual 3.6 percent, beating the median forecast of 3.5 percent in a Reuters poll of economists. Including bonuses, pay growth also picked up to 3.4 percent from 3.2 percent, stronger than the 3.1 percent forecast in the poll. Britain’s labor market has been a silver lining for the economy since the Brexit vote in June 2016, something many economists attribute to employers preferring to hire workers that they can later lay off over making longer-term commitments to investment. The pick-up in pay has been noted by the Bank of England which says it might need to raise interest rates in response, assuming Britain can avoid a no-deal Brexit. Tuesday’s data showed the unemployment rate remained at 3.8 percent as expected, its joint-lowest since the three months to January 1975. The number of people out of work fell by 51,000 to just under 1.3 million. But the growth in employment slowed to 28,000, the weakest increase since the three months to August last year and vacancies fell to their lowest level in more than a year. Some recent surveys of companies have suggested employers are turning more cautious about hiring as Britain approaches its new Brexit deadline of Oct. 31. Both the contenders to be prime minister say they would leave the EU without a transition deal if necessary. A survey published last week showed that companies were more worried about Brexit than at any time since the decision to leave the European Union and they planned to reduce investment and hiring. “The labor market continues to be strong,” ONS statistician Matt Hughes said. “Regular pay is growing at its fastest rate for nearly 11 years in cash terms and its quickest for over three years after taking account of inflation.” The BoE said in May it expected wage growth of 3 percent at the end of this year.