Saudi Arabia raising soybean and corn imports from Brazil

Updated 29 October 2012
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Saudi Arabia raising soybean and corn imports from Brazil

JEDDAH: BrazArtis, an import-export company based in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, is set to expand its soybean and corn exports to the Middle East, a move that is aligned with growing Brazilian grain harvest and exports.
Driven by soybean and corn production, Brazilian grain harvest is estimated to exceed 180 million tons from 170 million last year.
The soybean harvest alone for 2012/13 is set to increase by 20 percent and reach 81 million tons, from 66 million last year.
Ranked as the second agricultural commodity export from Brazil, maize production is set to increase by 7 percent from 66 million tons to 70 million tons.
In the period of January to August of this year, Egypt has increased its purchases of maize by 899.4 percent, from 90,310 tons in 2011 to 902,550 tons in 2012, according to Scot Consultoria.
Saudi Arabia has increased its purchases of corn from 159,770 to 402,190 tons in the same period, an increase of 151.7 percent.
Jan Dabrowa, business development director at BrazArtis, said: “The value of the Brazilian agribusiness has reached a peak, and it is set to reach $ 100 billion in 2012. Current exports of oilseeds are being fueled by changing market dynamics that have set the stage for another successful harvest in 2013. In light of the decreased exports by Argentina and unfavorable weather conditions that affected the US crops, Brazil took up a leadership role as one of the main producer and exporter of soybeans and corn.”
On another hand, corn exports to Iran decreased by 26.9 percent from 951,890 to 695,620 metric tons, but the country still stands as one of the leading importers of Brazilian corn in the region.
The exports of soybeans in 2012 are set to reach 17.5 million tons, a 20 percent boost from 2011.
In 2013, a provision for 10 percent increase in planting and 11 percent improvement in average productivity should result in 27.5 million acres planted and potential harvest of 81 million tons of grain.
Around 48 percent of the total production, equivalent to 39 million tons of oilseed will be destined for export.
It is projected by the Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture that the agribusiness exports will reach a record of $ 100 billion in 2012. In 2010 Brazilian agricultural exports surpassed $ 76.4 billion worldwide, an 18 percent increase from 2009.
They reached a new record in 2011 by totaling $ 94.59 billion, 24 percent higher than in 2010.
Brazil’s exports span across the whole GCC region including the Kingdom, UAE, Qatar, Jordan, Bahrain, Kuwait, Lebanon, Syria and Oman.


War-ridden Yemen’s other frontline — the central bank

Updated 18 December 2018
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War-ridden Yemen’s other frontline — the central bank

  • The Arab world’s poorest country is crippled by a humanitarian crisis
  • Many have died as a result of poverty, starvation, poor health care as the central bank is caught up in the conflict

ADEN: Cashiers sort through large stacks of money inside a ragged building that is Yemen’s central bank, another frontline in a ruinous conflict as it fights to stave off economic collapse.
The Arab world’s poorest country is crippled by a humanitarian crisis, with images of skeletal children in famine-like conditions grabbing global attention, but economic dysfunction appears to be at the heart of the problem.
Yemen is afflicted by what diplomats call a famine of jobs and salaries, with the central bank — headquartered in the government’s de facto capital Aden.
Running the economy from a building pocked with bullet holes in the southern port city, the bank is scrambling to revive a currency that has lost two-thirds of its value since 2015, exacerbating joblessness and leaving millions unable to afford basic food staples.
The central bank expects a $3 billion cash injection from Gulf donors Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates to prop up its sagging currency amid soaring inflation, its deputy chief Shokeib Hobeishy said in an interview last week, without giving a timeline.
The potential lifeline, if confirmed, would follow a $2.2 billion infusion by Saudi Arabia to the depleted reserves of a bank that appears ever more dependent on international handouts.


Hobeishy acknowledged that the bank was struggling to assert authority over its branches outside government control, including in Sanaa, which was seized by Iran-aligned Houthi militia in September 2014.
The government moved the bank’s headquarters from the capital in 2016 following suspicion that the Houthis were plundering its reserves to finance their war effort.
The relocation practically left the country with two parallel centers of fiscal policy dealing in one currency.
Yemen’s rivals reached a truce accord last week, but conspicuously absent was an agreement on economic cooperation as the Houthis rejected government calls for the Aden central bank to handle public sector salary payments on both sides, a diplomat who attended the talks told AFP.
The central bank is now “arguably the most dangerous frontline in the Yemen war,” said Wesam Qaid, executive director at Yemen’s Small and Micro Enterprise Promotion Service.
“The death toll as a result of bombings or land mines and military operations stands in the thousands,” Qaid told AFP.
“Many more have died as a result of poverty, starvation, poor health care as the central bank is caught up in the conflict.”


Yemen’s economy has contracted by 50 percent since the escalation of conflict in 2015 and inflation is projected at over 40 percent this year, according to the World Bank.
A weakened currency has diminished the purchasing power of millions and the private sector is haemorrhaging with businesses shutting down or making layoffs.
New Prime Minister Maeen Abdulmalik Saeed, appointed in October, said he was seeking to revive oil exports that once contributed about three-quarters of state revenue.
But such are the fears of insolvency that many Yemenis are afraid of putting their money in local banks.
“Banks often say: ‘We don’t have money. Come tomorrow, come next week’,” said a 54-year-old school employee in Aden.
Businesses also criticize the central bank over cumbersome processes to obtain letters of credit for vital imports — in a country that depends almost entirely on food from abroad.
In a letter sent in November to the prime minister and central bank chief, Aden’s chamber of commerce voiced concern that traders in areas outside government control were struggling to import essential goods. A central bank order requires payment in cash only.
The letter, seen by AFP, said the policy had caused a sharp decline in imports in those densely populated areas, making them prone to famine.
On the other side, businesses say the rebels are obstructing traders and banks in their areas from opening credit lines to Aden.
Central bank chief Mohammed Zemam said this month five Sanaa-based central bank employees had fled to Aden over safety fears and were immediately blacklisted by the Houthis.
“We are asking the Houthis to leave the banking sector alone,” he said in a separate interview in Riyadh.
“This is the only way to feed the people.”