Kingdom imports 80% of food products

Updated 19 April 2014

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.


IMF warns of Asia’s darkening growth outlook as trade war bites

Updated 18 October 2019

IMF warns of Asia’s darkening growth outlook as trade war bites

  • The IMF cut its economic growth forecast for the Asia-Pacific region to 5.0 percent for this year and 5.1 percent for 2020
  • It also slashed China’s growth forecast to 6.1 percent for this year and 5.8 percent for 2020
WASHINGTON: Asian nations face heightening risks to their economic outlooks as the US-China trade war and slumping Chinese demand hurt the world’s fastest-growing region, the International Monetary Fund said on Friday.
In its World Economic Outlook report on Tuesday, the IMF cut its economic growth forecast for the Asia-Pacific region to 5.0 percent for this year and 5.1 percent for 2020 — the slowest pace of expansion since the global financial crisis more than a decade ago.
“Headwinds from global policy uncertainty and growth deceleration in major trading partners are taking a toll on manufacturing, investment, trade, and growth,” Changyong Rhee, director of the IMF’s Asia and Pacific department, said during a news conference at the IMF and World Bank fall meetings.
“Risks are skewed to the downside,” he said, calling on policymakers in the region to focus on near-term fiscal and monetary policy steps to spur growth.
“The intensification in trade tensions between the US and China could further weigh on confidence and financial markets, thereby weakening trade, investment and growth,” he said.
A faster-than-expected slowdown in China’s economic growth could also generate negative spillovers in the region, as many Asian countries have supply chains closely tied to China, he added.
The IMF slashed China’s growth forecast to 6.1 percent for this year and 5.8 percent for 2020, pointing to the impact from the trade conflict and tighter regulation to address excess debt.