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.


Japan, South Korea hold export talks, seek dispute solution

Updated 16 December 2019

Japan, South Korea hold export talks, seek dispute solution

  • Japan in July tightened trade controls on South Korea materials used in high-tech products
  • Tokyo also downgraded Seoul a month later from a list of preferential trade partners

TOKYO: Senior officials from Japan and South Korea were holding talks Monday on high-tech exports for the first time since Tokyo tightened controls on South Korean semiconductor parts earlier this year.
The director-general level meeting was taking place in Tokyo between Yoichi Iida of Japan’s Trade Control Department and his South Korean counterpart, Lee Ho-hyeon. The two officials shook hands at the beginning of the talks, though they made no opening remarks to the media.
A meeting of this level had not been held in more than three years.
Japan in July tightened trade controls on South Korea materials used in smartphones, television screens and other high-tech products, citing national security concerns. Japan also downgraded South Korea a month later from a list of preferential trade partners.
South Korea has demanded Japan reverse the measures, saying Tokyo has weaponized export controls in retaliation for South Korean court rulings demanding Japanese companies pay compensation to former Korean laborers over their treatment during Japan’s 1910-1945 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula. Tokyo has pressed Seoul to stick with a 1965 agreement in resolving their dispute over wartime Korean laborers, criticizing the court decisions a violation to international law.
Japan’s trade curbs against South Korea have led to subsequent retaliatory measures that spilled into the area of national security, with Seoul threatening to abandon a key military intelligence sharing pact with Tokyo.
The pact was saved just hours before its expiration in November, following Washington’s repeated pressure and with Tokyo agreeing to resume export control talks requested by Seoul.
Monday’s talks come a week ahead of a planned summit between the two countries and China.
Japanese and South Korean foreign ministers, Toshimitsu Motegi and Kan Geun-wha, both attending the Asia-Europe Meeting in Madrid, Spain, talked briefly and welcomed their trade officials’ meeting in Tokyo, Japanese officials said. The two sides also agreed to cooperate closely on threats from North Korea and to achieve next week’s summit.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said that Japan’s export control measures are part of the country’s international responsibility and that “they are not something that we decide by negotiating with a trade partner.”
“Our policy has been consistent and there is no change to our position,” Suga said, referring to Japan’s position on the wartime compensation issue. “We urge South Korea to act wisely.”
South Korean national assembly speaker Moon Hee-san is seeking to set up a compensation fund for the Korean wartime laborers with an option that allows Japanese companies to chip in donations as a compromise.