Sunday, May 18, 2008

Haves and Have-Nots

"``The problem is Egypt doesn't have the money to pay for food subsidies,'' said Simon Kitchen, an economist and strategist at Cairo-based EFG-Hermes.

In Saudi Arabia, which has an economy three times the size of Egypt's and a third its population of 81.7 million, the government cut duties on wheat imports and lowered tariffs to 5 percent on frozen chicken, eggs, vegetable oil and canned food. That cost 6 billion riyals ($1.6 billion) a year in revenue, Okaz newspaper reported on April 3. Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil exporter, is also planning to boost welfare payments and acquire farms abroad.

The U.A.E., which stashed away about $875 billion in its sovereign wealth fund as oil more than quadrupled, is considering purchasing farms in Cambodia, Thailand and Africa because ``the weather doesn't help us grow items in the country,'' Mohammed Ahmed bin Abdul Aziz, undersecretary of the Planning Sector at the Ministry of Economy, said in a May 13 interview."

The New Arab World of failed food systems.

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