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Kuwait Viewed As Growing Agricultural Market

September 10, 1987

WASHINGTON (AP) _ An Agriculture Department economist says oil-rich Kuwait is one of eight smaller Middle East countries that are lucrative, growing markets for agricultural products, particularly those from the United States and the 12- nation European Economic Community.

Kuwait is prominent in the ″tanker war″ between Iran and Iraq in the Persian Gulf. The other countries cited by the USDA include war-torn Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, North Yemen and South Yemen.

All share the Arabic language, but their relations with the United States vary, from friendly to cool, says Fawzi Taha of the UDSA’s Economic Research Service.

″American farm exporters who focus on the Middle East’s largest markets such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Iraq may be overlooking some sales opportunities in the smaller nations of the region,″ he said.

Together, the eight smaller countries spent $5.7 billion on agricultural imports from all sources in 1985, or about 20 percent more than the amount spent by Saudi Arabia, the region’s largest single importer.

Each of the eight buys some American farm products, but the United States has been losing ground to rival exporters, declining to 6 percent of the market in 1985 from 10 percent in 1975, Taha said.

The EEC share, meanwhile, increased to a peak of 28 percent in 1980 before settling back to about 22 percent in 1985, from 19 percent in 1975.

″If the past is any guide, these markets will continue to grow,″ Taha said in the current issue of the agency’s Farmline magazine. ″Their total farm product purchases from all suppliers climbed from nearly $1.9 billion in 1975 to a record $6 billion in 1984.″

The value of the eight-country imports dropped in 1985 and 1986, but Taha said that was largely because of lower world commodity prices, the oil glut and reduced demand for oil workers in Kuwait, the UAE, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere.

″Several of the nations send workers to their larger oil-producing neighbors,″ Taha said. ″The money (sent) back to their families provides much of the foreign exchange currency needed to pay for imports.″

Besides the United States and the EEC, the wealth of the Middle East has attracted other agricultural exporters, currently including Australia, Brazil, Thailand, India, Pakistan, Hungary, Bulgaria, Singapore and Turkey.

The EEC has been very successful in selling processed and high-value products, including beef, cheese, canned fruit, fruit juices, sugar, butter, dry and condensed milk, andn and rice. Other products include soybean meal, vegetable oils, canned nuts, and some processed vegetables, concentrated fruit juices and beef.

Taha said the keys to increasing U.S. sales to the region probably include a mix of strategies and a long-term commitment by American exporters.

″To compete, U.S. firms may have to offer generous credit terms, as well as lower prices to compensate for the the high transportation costs from the United States,″ he said.

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WASHINGTON (AP) - A field test of another new genetically engineered vaccine to control pseudorabies in swine is scheduled to begin next month in Illinois, Iowa and Minnesota.

The Agriculture Department says the test, scheduled to begin on Oct. 9, is different from an earlier vaccine announced last May for testing among swine in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri and Nebraska. That field test, which began in June, is still going on.

Dr. Robert B. Miller, a staff veterinarian in the department’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, said the vaccine will be tested on about 300 animals, including newborn and weaned pigs, and breeding stock, over a period of about six weeks.

The tests, he said, will be to see if the vaccine performs under field conditions in preparation for USDA licensing for marketing the product commercially. The manufacturer is Syntrovet Inc., Lenexa, Kan., he said.

Pseudorabies, also called Aujesky’s disease and ″mad itch,″ is a contagious disease that occurs primarily in swine. Death occurs in newborn pigs within a few days after exposure. Older hogs may survive the disease but become carriers of the virus for life.

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WASHINGTON (AP) - The Agriculture Department says asparagus production is up 2 percent this year, but the nation’s onion harvest is virtually the same as in 1986.

Estimated output of asparagus is 2.19 million hundredweight in the major producing states, the department’s Agricultural Statistics Board said Wednesday. California is the largest producer, followed by Michigan, New Jersey and Washington.

The 1987 onion harvest was estimated at 43.2 million hundredweight, with the big producers including California, Idaho, Oregon, Colorado and New York.

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