Thursday, September 17, 2009
Al Akhbar had an interesting article in its economy page today, on what it calls the "missed opportunities of (food) export to the EU". 6 years ago, Lebanon signed a trade agreement with the EU to encourage bilateral trade. Trade from the EU to Lebanon increased but not the other way around, although there are quotas for Lebanon. The reason, according to the writer, is that Lebanese farmers were not trained into "cleaner" production and that Lebanese produce has too many pesticide residues for allowing access to the EU. I think this is only part of the story: our traditional markets are the Arab countries, and someone I know who has one of the largest fresh produce trading companies in Lebanon told me that he makes much more money selling locally than exporting, and the export to the EU was complicated and not very lucrative because of risks and logistics. There is more to dig into here, but the figures speak: export to the EU: 300 million euros (of which just 4 million euros are fresh foods and vegetables). Imports from the EU: 3.9 billion euros.