India’s buffalo meat exports to plunge amid China clampdown on illegal imports

Exports have been hit by several temporary meat plant closures in the current financial year that reduced production, said Priya Sud, a partner at Al Noor Exports. (AP)
Updated 04 February 2019
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India’s buffalo meat exports to plunge amid China clampdown on illegal imports

  • The vast majority of the beef India exports is buffalo, an animal less venerated than the indigenous Indian cow that many view as sacred

MUMBAI: India’s buffalo meat exports are set to plunge 15 percent to their lowest in six years, a leading industry body told Reuters, as world No.1 meat consumer China clamps down on food smuggling.
China does not allow imports of Indian buffalo beef due to fears over foot-and-mouth disease, but the meat is often smuggled into the country through neighboring nations along with other foods that have also been prohibited by Beijing.
The Chinese government has periodically ramped up customs controls over the last few years as it cracks down on these so-called ‘grey trade’ networks.
That has hit demand for Indian buffalo meat in places such as Vietnam, where some traders look to resell to clients in China, according to the All India Meat & Livestock Exporters Association.
“Chinese buying has been very erratic in the last couple of months and that is being reflected in export numbers,” said Fauzan Alavi, vice president at the organization.
China’s General Administration of Customs did not respond to a fax seeking comment on the issue.
Shrinking shipments from the world’s No.2 exporter of buffalo meat are likely to drag on prices for the commodity, potentially good news for buyers in countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia, Egypt and Iraq.
Alavi said that overall buffalo meat exports in the 2018/19 financial year that ends on March 31 could drop 15 percent from the year before to 1.15 million tons, the lowest since 2012/13. Two other exporters said shipments would likely fall more than 10 percent, without giving an exact number.
Exports in the period from last April to November declined 10 percent from the same time in 2017 to 825,570 tons, according to data from the nation’s Agriculture & Processed Food Products Export Development Authority.
In 2017/18 the country’s exports stood at 1.35 million tons, with Vietnam accounting for more than half the total.
The vast majority of the beef India exports is buffalo, an animal less venerated than the indigenous Indian cow that many view as sacred.
India’s buffaloes are mainly used for dairy and are only slaughtered for meat after their milk productivity has peaked. That makes the meat produced lower quality than from beef cattle, and is mainly used in processed food, canned goods and low-end dishes. Total Indian buffalo meat exports are around $4 billion a year.
“There are times when China puts restriction on cross-border trade and export moderates,” said Alavi.
The slowdown in exports has already pulled Indian buffalo meat prices to $2,900 per ton from $3,200 six months ago, exporters said.
“Many Indian states are free from foot-and-mouth disease and exports should be allowed to China from these states,” Alavi said.
“Chinese consumers are paying unnecessarily high prices. Direct trade would help both buyers and sellers.”

NO SUBSTITUTE
The depreciation of the rupee to record lows against the US dollar helped exporters in the first-half of the 2018/19 fiscal year, allowing them to slash prices to better-compete with exporters in top buffalo meat supplier Brazil, said a New Delhi-based exporter.
“But in last few months, demand has moderated from China,” he added, declining to be identified due to the sensitivity of the issue.
“Other buyers are comparatively small and can’t replace China.”
Exports have also been hit by several temporary meat plant closures in the current financial year that reduced production, said Priya Sud, a partner at Al Noor Exports, which operates abattoirs in the state of Uttar Pradesh in northern India.
Uttar Pradesh, the country’s biggest meat producer, ordered the closure of meat plants during religious festivals as the provincial government, led by a radical Hindu monk, drafted policies to protect cattle.


Saudi Arabia aims to achieve e-payment target of 70%

Updated 22 February 2019
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Saudi Arabia aims to achieve e-payment target of 70%

  • Reform plan seeks cashless society
  • E-payments could exceed $22bn in next four years

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia wants to achieve an e-payment target of 70 percent by 2030, a banking official told Arab News on Thursday, as the country moves toward becoming a cashless society.

Talat Hafiz, from the Media and Banking Awareness Committee for Saudi Banks, said online or cashless transactions were part of the Vision 2030 reform plan.

The Financial Sector Development Program (FSDP) was one of the initiatives to support the economic growth goals of Vision 2030, he added.

“Basically it is to transfer Saudi society from being heavily cash dependent in buying goods and services to a cashless society using digital and electronic payment,” he told Arab News. “One of the FSDP’s main targets is to increase and improve the percentage of non-cash utilization, from 18 percent in 2016 to 28 percent in 2020. However, the goal will increase of course with the target to 70 percent by 2030.”

Hafiz, in an Arab News column published earlier this month, said the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA) had been encouraging electronic payments and settlements in order to reduce the reliance on cash.

SAMA had introduced a number of e-payment systems in the last two decades to help consumers and institutions, he wrote, such as the Saudi Arabian Riyal Interbank Express and the online bill payment portal SADAD.

Earlier this week Apple Pay was launched in the Kingdom, joining the cashless roster of payment methods available to Saudi consumers.

A cashback service operated by credit card companies, where a percentage of the amount spent is paid back to the cardholder, was introduced last year in Saudi Arabia.

An illustration of how direct debit works, courtesy of the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA).

“All of these efforts collectively from the SAMA side are to reach the ambitious goal of the FSDP.”

Hafiz explained that e-payments saved time and effort and allowed people to access service and goods around-the-clock. 

“This is basically why SAMA is very active and now we see SAMA and the National Payment System are responsible and leading (the country) toward a cashless society by achieving the target set by 2030.”

Last February the Amazon-owned Payfort online payments service registered a new company in Saudi Arabia.

According to the “Payfort State of Payments 2017” report, Saudi Arabia and the UAE are the fastest growing markets in the region for electronic payments.

The report estimates that Saudi Arabia conducted $8.3 billion of payment transactions in 2016, showing 27 percent year-on-year growth.

E-payments in the Kingdom are expected to double over the next four years to reach more than $22 billion, the report added.