Indian exporters overjoyed at lifting of Saudi ban

The lifting of the ban is one of the major developments as far as the fruit and vegetable industries of Kerala are concerned, chamber of commerce member says. (Shutterstock)
Updated 07 June 2019

Indian exporters overjoyed at lifting of Saudi ban

  • “I’m super happy with the development.”
  • Kerala exports 150-160 tons of fruits and vegetables to the Gulf countries every day

NEW DELHI: The Kerala Fruit and Vegetable Exporters Association has expressed joy over the Saudi decision to lift the ban on imports of horticultural products from the south Indian state.

The outbreak of the deadly Nipah virus in certain parts of Kerala in May last year forced the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries to ban imports of horticultural products from the state. Most of the GCC members lifted the ban soon after, except for Saudi Arabia.

The Kingdom “is a major market for exporters in Kerala. We send our products to Riyadh, Dammam and Jeddah airports every day,” said P. E. Ashraf Ali of the association.

“I’d incurred huge losses due to the (Saudi) ban ... Now I hope to recover the loss,” Ali told Arab News. 

“I’m super happy with the development.”

He said he has been able to export 8-10 tons of horticultural products to Saudi Arabia since it resumed imports in late May.

Kerala exports 150-160 tons of fruits and vegetables to the Gulf countries every day, out of which around 40 tons go to Saudi Arabia, said V. Venugopal of the Kerala-based Cochin Chamber of Commerce and Industry. 

“The lifting of the ban is one of the major developments as far as the fruit and vegetable industries of Kerala are concerned,” Venugopal added.  

The target this year is to increase exports to GCC countries to 200 tons daily, and if that happens, exports to Saudi Arabia will go up by 15-20 percent, he said.

An official at the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority — a body of the Indian government — told Arab News: “The ban was lifted after the satisfaction of the health ministries in both India and Saudi Arabia that the Nipah virus had been contained and there was no danger either to humans or plants from this virus anymore.”

The official said: “My understanding is that the Indian Health Ministry gave assurances to its Saudi counterpart that it will take fool-proof measures to stop the virus, and then the World Health Organization was also involved.”

He added: “It’s only after everyone was satisfied that there’s no danger from the Nipah virus anymore that Saudi Arabia agreed to lift the ban.”


Afghan head of peace talks says ready for dialogue with Taliban

Updated 4 min 10 sec ago

Afghan head of peace talks says ready for dialogue with Taliban

  • Abdullah Abdullah: ongoing lull in violence set the tone for launching the peace talks
  • Taliban offered a rare three-day cease-fire that ended on Tuesday night to mark the Eid Al-Fitr

KABUL: A top Afghan official appointed to lead the much-awaited peace talks with the Taliban said Saturday his team was ready to start “at any moment” with the insurgents.
Abdullah Abdullah, who heads a council to represent the government in negotiations, said an ongoing lull in violence triggered by a surprise cease-fire offered by the insurgents had set the tone for launching the peace talks.
“The announcement of the cease-fire, a reduction in violence and the exchange of prisoners have all paved the way for a good beginning,” Abdullah said at his first press conference since taking on the role.
“The negotiating team is ready to begin the talks at any moment,” he said.
However, he added that there must be a fresh cease-fire during the talks.
The Taliban offered a rare three-day cease-fire that ended on Tuesday night to mark the Eid Al-Fitr festival.
Officials have blamed the Taliban for carrying out some deadly attacks against security forces since the cease-fire ended, but also acknowledged that the temporary truce has led to an overall fall in violence across much of the country.
The government responded to the cease-fire by accelerating the release of hundreds of Taliban prisoners.
The peace talks between the government and Taliban were scheduled to begin before March 10.
The United States has pushed the two sides to begin negotiating with an aim to end the nearly two-decades old war in the impoverished country.
Washington has signed a separate deal with the Taliban, which stipulates that all foreign forces will be withdrawn from the country by May next year.
Abdullah was appointed to lead the peace talks after he ended his bitter political feud with President Ashraf Ghani earlier this month.
Abdullah had announced himself as a rival president after he rejected the result of the September election which was won by incumbent Ghani.