RESUMPTION OF MEAT EXPORTS TO SAUDI ARABIA
Every single shipment will be subjected to a Quarantine Certificate
By SYED M. ASLAM
Aug 26 - Sep 01, 2002
The Governments of Saudi Arabia and Pakistan signed an agreement on the 4th of this month to lift the ban on imports of goat and sheep meat, and bi-products, in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The agreement signed between Pakistani Ambassador Lt-Gen (Retd.) Assad Durrani and Saudi Commerce Minister Osamah bin Jaffer Faqeeh in Riyadh is a significant development indeed for the nascent meat export industry of Pakistan.
Pakistan started exporting fresh meat for the first ever in 1998. The product was able to find a receptive market in such brother Muslim countries as Saudi Arabia and the UAE. This is obvious from the fact that overall meat and meat products exports — including beef, mutton and poultry — increased from $ 1.8 million in 1998-99 to $ 7 million in 1999-2000 depicting a four-fold increase. However, the overall fresh meat exports declined to $ 5.2 million in 2000-01 and dropped further to $ 3.59 million in 2001-02 as the Saudi Arabia and UAE slapped a ban on meat imports from all sources amidst reports of Mad Cow and Foot and Mouth diseases.
Umar Dad Afridi, the deputy director of the Export Promotion Bureau Karachi, looks after the meat exports. Hailing the agreement, which has yet to become a law waiting issuance of a royal decree, Umar attributed the lifting of the ban on efficient use of diplomatic channels by the Pakistani embassy in Saudi Arabia and its commercial councilor to successfully convince the Saudi authorities that not only the two livestock diseases do not exist in Pakistan but also the local meat exporters meet the international standards. "A technical delegation from Saudi Arabia visited Pakistan and viewed the slaughter houses and abattoirs and the ban was only lifted after it submitted a positive report about the working and hygienic conditions at the slaughter houses and abattoirs.
"Under the agreement Pakistan is allowed to export only the goat and sheep meat to Saudi Arabia and every single shipment will be subjected to a Quarantine Certificate from the Animal Quarantine Department of the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock. Live goat and sheep can also be exported to Saudi Arabia."
While the lifting of the ban has yet to become a law awaiting issuance of the royal decree in Saudi Arabia and while UAE has already lifted a similar ban, the performance of meat exports during the first month of the current fiscal, July, depicts a strong performance. During July this year overall meat exports, including red and poultry meat, almost doubled over the same month last year. According to figures provided to PAGE, the total value of meat exported during July was $ 424,000 compared to $ 220,000 in July last year. It is expected that the lifting of the ban and the resumption of goat and sheep meat into Saudi Arabia will help boost overall meat exports this year.
Umar said that the EPB also eyeing other markets in the Middle East and Far East. "We have plans to make a penetration into Muscat, Bahrain and Kuwait in the Middle East and Malaysia in the Far East to help boost our meat exports. In May this year the EPB organized a delegation of meat exporters to visit Malaysia, a market which offers great potential for Pakistani meat exports. Malaysia imports $ 220 million worth of meat every year. Since it is a brother Muslim country and follow the same halal and zabeeha laws governed by the religion it will be easy for us to find a receptive meat market in Malaysia. Though Pakistan is already exporting both the red and white cattle meat to Malaysia the positive response that the delegation received hints that we will be able to capture a significant part of the market."
PAGE was informed that the target for meat export this fiscal is set at $ 10 million and the proposed establishment of the National Dairy Development and Livestock Board by the government will not also help increase production for the local consumption but also play a vital role in the export of meat outside the country.
The export of animal casings, the intestines used as the cover in the preparation of hotdogs and sausages in the Western countries, are also on a rise during the last decade. In 2001-2002 Pakistan exported $ 8.6 million worth of animal casings the primary markets of which are Romania and Turkey. This particular export also suffered a setback when these two countries imposed a ban on import of animal casings from Pakistan on reports on diseases. Here again Pakistan invited the technical delegations from the two countries and address their concerns successfully thus making them withdraw the ban.
The re-opening of the Saudi market and the plans to expand the base of meat exports to other countries can help enhance the meat exports to a respectable level over the years. This would help uplift the economic conditions of the poverty-stricken rural population on the one hand and help earn foreign exchange for the country on the other to have implications the importance of which can hardly be over-emphasised.