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Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Agriculture Ministry issues new regulations for guava and pomegranate exports, as trade deficit narrows and Trade Ministry discloses new strategy to boost exports

The Agriculture Ministry issued new regulations yesterday tightening inspection procedures for guava and pomegranate exports, less than a week after Saudi Arabia issued a temporary ban on imports of Egyptian guavas over concerns of above-average levels of residual pesticides. Under the new directives — which aim to ensure the quality of goods exported from Egypt — the central quarantine administration in Cairo and South Valley became the sole authority responsible for processing and managing inspections and export approvals for both crops, tasking affiliated committees with testing the cargo for pesticide residues first before transport, and then again once it reaches a pre-approved packaging station.

Inspectors are allowed to reject an entire shipment if a single sample proves to be contaminated, the regulations instruct. The ministry has been working to tighten quality assurance measures on agricultural exports — particularly those to the GCC — after a number of countries, including Saudi, Kuwait, and the UAE, decided to suspend imports of some Egyptian crops, such as strawberries and peppers. The ministry had also said in July that it would apply Global Good Agricultural Practices standards on guava exports as of this season. The Agricultural Exports Council announced last week that they were close to sealing an agreement with one of two European labs that would work in conjunction with local inspectors to test samples of produce before its exported. Tap or click here to view the regulations in full, courtesy of Al Mal.

Exports were seemingly unaffected by the consecutive bans on Egyptian agricultural products, as Egypt’s trade deficit narrowed by 26% y-o-y during 11M2017, compared to 13% y-o-y in the same period in 2016, Trade and Industry Minister Tarek Kabil said yesterday, according to Reuters. Imports for the 11-month period dropped to record a total USD 51 bn, compared to USD 61 bn in 11M2016. Meanwhile, exports for the full year 2017 are expected to grow by 10% y-o-y to a total USD 22.4 bn, up from USD 20.4 bn, led mainly by the petrochemicals and fertilizers industry, ready-made garments, electronics, textiles, and food production, Kabil said.

The Trade and Industry Ministry’s strategy to boost exports during 2018 is already in motion, Kabil also said. The minister explained that the five-point strategy will seek to boost exports by enforcing stricter quality control measures and developing inspection procedures and capabilities, in addition to offering a wide range cash and non-cash incentives, such as credit facilities and reduced-interest borrowing under specialized funding initiatives, as well as insurance plans to hedge exporters against risk. The strategy also involves discounting shipping fees by as much 50% to specific locations, including Russia, the Americas, and various African countries, as well as supporting and subsidizing exporters who achieve certain targets. The ministry will also focus on growing Egypt’s network of logistical centers, which will allow products to enter new and previously untapped markets, in addition to aiding local businesses in promoting and marketing their products overseas.

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