Saudi Arabia decides ban on Egyptian strawberry imports

Big 5

Saudi Arabia has banned imports of Egyptian strawberries due to their high level of pesticide residues, the kingdom’s Ministry of Environment said on its Twitter account on Sunday.

The temporary ban comes into effect on July 8, the Saudi ministry said, adding that it examines all fruit and vegetable imports through its check-points on the borders before they enter the kingdom to ensure safety.

Since a currency float in November, which roughly cut the pound’s value in half, Egyptian exports have been welcomed in new markets due to their increased competitiveness.

Exports of Egyptian vegetables, fruits and legumes amounted to $2.2 billion last year. The main fruit exports include oranges and strawberries.

A series of bans of Egyptian exports however has hurt the image of an import-dependent country seeking to step up exports and curb imports in an effort to narrow its trade deficit.

Exports could also help bring in desperately needed foreign currency that has been low in supply as a result of the 2011 Arab Spring uprising that drove away tourists and investors.

Sudan banned imports of agricultural and animal products from Egypt last month.

The United Arab Emirates also banned imports of peppers from Egypt earlier in May.

Egypt exports about 1.2 million tonnes of agricultural produce to Arab countries annually, Abdel Hamid al-Demerdash, the head of Egypt’s Agriculture Export Council, told Reuters a month earlier.

Russia temporarily banned imports of Egyptian fruit and vegetables at the end of last year shortly after a Hepatitis A scare in North America was linked to frozen Egyptian strawberries.

Russia’s temporary ban came shortly after Egypt rejected wheat shipments containing traces of the common grain fungus ergot. Russia denied the two issues were related.