The Dubai and Gulf region's phenomenal economic growth over the last few decades has positioned it as one of the top three export and re-export hubs in the world. As a natural geographic gateway to the 2.5 billion people of the Gulf, Middle East and South Asian markets, the region has emerged as a major re-exporting hub with connectivity between sea and air transport. United Arab Emirates (UAE) is home to one of the world’s busiest ports, with re-exports of about A$100 billion worth of commodities to the Middle East. Dubai Logistics City, Dubai Cargo Village and Al Maktoum International Airport – set to be the largest airfreight hub in the world – all deliver expert services and resources to worldwide exporters and re-exporters.
Food security is the major area of concern for the Gulf countries (UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman) as 90% of total food requirements are imported. The supply of grains, red meat, fresh produce and animal feed is a priority for regional governments and food distribution companies, and Australia is perceived as a supplier of good quality and reliable exports, with significant historical background in the region. During the COVID-19 era, strong Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) government support for food security and reliance on food imports will continue, as governments have called on retailers to increase supply considering the heightened consumer demand. The need for food reserves is of key importance to the UAE and other GCC countries, who have accelerated government measures to require companies to comply with the UAE Food Security Strategy. As an example, Dubai had lowered import duties by 20% for the next three months. Currently, all major WA producers of grains, fresh produce and meat are actively engaged and are exporting to this market.
As a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic, GCC governments have been easing the regulations for Arabic labelling, and thus market entry was further improved, and WA retail and food service companies can explore this opportunity. Also, the shelf life for chilled red meat has been increased in Kuwait and Jordan (along with most Gulf countries), for both beef and sheep meat products, which represents an opportunity for chilled meat exporters through vacuum packed sea freights. By diversifying agrifood exports to the GCC region, it presents an important opportunity for the WA agrifood exporters to capitalise on the increased demand from the GCC region and reduce risks in other markets.
Saudi Arabia has allocated A$828 million to fund agriculture imports and secure food supplies amid COVID-19 fears, and has grown increasingly dependent on grain imports, becoming a major importer of wheat and barley. Qatar has strengthened its position as Australia's second largest trading partner in the Middle East and North Africa region, and food exports due to direct flights have grown during the pandemic.
At the height of market activity, there were five daily nonstop flights between Perth and UAE/Qatar. Now, the Australian Government is offering support to exporters wanting to connect to the Gulf markets through the International Freight Assistance Mechanism (IFAM), which Gulf airlines such as Emirates, Etihad and Qatar have qualified for and are backing. This will further bolster the food and agriculture export base, with fresh horticulture, dairy and meat occupying much of the freight on flights.
The Government of Western Australia Dubai Office was opened in 2002, in recognition of the increasing opportunities for the export of Western Australian products and services to the Gulf region. Food and agriculture exports from WA and Australia continue to be the most important export component of trade and investment with the Gulf region at A$3.9 billion annually.
For enquiries specific to the Gulf markets, exporters can contact the Government of Western Australia Commissioner, Mr Pankaj Savara, and agribusiness expert, Mr Aziz Saba. For general enquiries, connect with the Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and Innovation Invest and Trade team or the Department of Primary Industries and Regional
Development. The government’s Dubai office provides ongoing support for WA agrifood exporters by providing market insights, tailored business matching support and facilitating introductions to key importers in the region. More... Source & Photo: GoWA Dubai | Related: Government of Western Australia - Global offices