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Saudi Arabia bans strawberries’ imports from Egypt

Saudi Arabia, June 19, 2017

Saudi Arabia has banned the imports of Egyptian strawberries due to pesticide residues, Reuters reported today, quoting the head of Egypt’s Agriculture Export Council (AEC), Abdel Hamid Al-Demerdash.

According to Al-Demerdash, the Saudi authorities have informed Egypt today that it will impose a temporary import ban on Egyptian strawberries starting 11 July, after they have detected pesticides in the fruit.

The Saudi memo, he added, did not specify the levels of residues detected or name the companies that have committed violations.

Al-Demerdash pointed out that exporting season for strawberries begins in November and ends on 10 April, stressing that Egypt will not face significant losses after the ban comes into effect. Strawberries represent 5-10 per cent of the country’s total agricultural exports, the Egyptian official explained.

Since the pound flotation float in November, which roughly reduced the pound’s value to half, Egyptian exports have been welcomed by several international markets due to their increased competitiveness.

However, Egypt agricultural exports have been experiencing a series of bans over the past year. Last September, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) imposed tight measures on the imported frozen Egyptian strawberries following reports of hepatitis infections in the United States. In addition, it banned imports of peppers from Egypt in April.

Sudan also banned imports of agricultural and animal products from Egypt in May.

Those consecutive embargos have had a negative impact on the image of an import-dependent country seeking to step up exports and curb imports in an effort to narrow its trade deficit.

The AEC head predicted the ban imposed by the Arab countries on the Egyptian agricultural imports “to be resolved before the beginning of the new export season which begins mid-November.”

Egypt exports about 1.2 million tonnes of agricultural produce to Arab countries annually, according to AEC.

In May, the Egyptian trade and industry ministry, in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture, ordered a screening process for fresh agricultural vegetables and fruits before they are being exported abroad, to ensure compliance with international standards and requirements.