Egypt’s citrus exports to China increased by 30% in the first half (H1) of 2016, recording $24m, compared to $18.4m in 2015, according to plenipotentiary minister Mamdouh Salman, who is the Egyptian commissioner of the trade representation office in China’s capital Beijing.
The Chinese market has increased its consumption of Egyptian fruits and vegetables over the past years, which will allow Egypt to expand its exports over the coming years.
Salman said that China is considered the country with the highest vegetable production, and the third in terms of producing fruits. However, it is also the country with the highest consumption of fruits and vegetables. To meet its own needs, it resorts to importing from its trade partners.
Salman explained that China is ranked seventh in terms of exports worldwide. Chinese consumers’ taste in fruits and vegetables has seen noticeable developments with the increase of the individuals’ incomes and their openness to the world.
Chinese consumers demand for tropical and Mediterranean fruits has increased as they are gaining more interest in being introduced to new food habits.
Beijing’s imports of Egyptian agricultural crops are limited to citrus. More products are expected to be exported to China, including grapes and fodder beet.
Cairo’s trade representative office in Beijing exerts a lot of effort in promoting agricultural crops, especially citrus, among importers.
This happens through participating in agricultural conferences and exhibitions in both countries, in coordination with Egyptian business groups, especially the Agriculture Export Council and the Horticultural Export Improvement Association (HEIA), as well as its Chinese counterpart.
Both countries are coordinating to send Chinese delegations to Egypt in order to visit the citrus farms, in an attempt to increase the amount that is exported.
The office is coordinating with the central management of the Egyptian Agricultural Quarantine and the Chinese management of Agricultural Quarantine, Supervision, and Inspection in order to allow more Egyptian agricultural crops into the Chinese market.
Salman said that the two sides reached concrete results in exporting Egyptian grapes to the Chinese market, and a protocol is expected to be signed in the coming period for exporting grapes to China and Egyptian fodder beet to Beijing specifically.
It is expected that a delegation from the China Inspection and Quarantine Services (CIQ) will be visiting Egypt during the next season, to monitor the production and plant safety standards, in preparation for signing the protocol.
He added that the office plans to increase the Egyptian crops exports to China to match the needs of Egyptian exporters. This comes besides ongoing discussions between both countries ‘ quarantine management services.
He added that a number of Egyptian crops were specified to be examined after signing the grapes exporting protocol, such as strawberries, mangoes, beans, and onions.
The Chinese government’s conditions for importing agricultural products requires pest risk analysis for each product, then a visit to the exporting country, followed by preparing the exporting protocol and discussing it with the CIQ.
In terms of the obstacles facing Egyptian exports to the Chinese market, Salman said that the most important one is the lack of information on the market. That is why the office is preparing detailed studies on the nature of the Chinese market and consumers’ tastes, as well as the procedures followed in Beijing. In addition to that, the customs duties imposed by China on the import of products and the specialised exhibitions held there are also included in the studies.
The office introduces Egyptian exporters to the Chinese companies with a good reputation so as to ensure financial rights in the commercial transactions. The office also conducts investigations about the financial and legal status of the companies interested in dealing with Egyptian entities. Additionally, the office intervenes for amicable settlements, if there are trade disputes between the parties.
Salman said that the size of the commercial exchange between Egypt and China in H1 of 2016 registered roughly $5.7m, with a decline of 7.8% year–on-year (y-o-y).
The value of non-petroleum Egyptian exports declined by 5.5% y-o-y, registering $165m in H1 of 2016.
The first half of 2016 did not witness any growth in Egyptian oil exports to China, which has represented the largest proportion of Egypt’s oil exports in the past few years.
Chinese exports to Egypt registered $5.5m, with a decline of 1.5% y-o-y.