EGYPT – Egypt recorded a rise in fruit and vegetables exports in 2019 by 200,140 tons reaching a record number of 5,235,140 tons according to the Central Department of Agricultural Quarantine at the Ministry of Agriculture.

In October, the Central Administration of the Ministry of Agriculture issued a report which already showed a rise in Egypt’s fruit and vegetable exports, rising to 4 million and 800,000 tons since the beginning of the new export season of fruits and vegetables.

The crops exported included citrus fruits, potato, onion, grapes, grenade, garlic, mango, strawberry, green beans, guava, cucumber, bell pepper, and aubergine.

Head of the Central Department of Agricultural Quarantine at the Ministry of Agriculture Ahmed al-Attar stressed that these shipments were exported to the European Union in accordance with the international quality standards, affirming that the Egyptian agricultural products were exported to various countries without any obstacles.

Twelve foreign markets were opened to more than 20 varieties of Egyptian agricultural products last year, according to a recent report by the Department of Agricultural Quarantine at the Ministry.

In addition to that Egypt succeeded in reducing additional inspections imposed by countries in the European Union.

Meanwhile, Canada’s markets were opened for Egyptian exports of tomatoes, Indonesia’s for exports of garlic, Uruguay’s for citrus fruits and grapes.

Exports of beet pulp and grapefruit also began to China, as well as grapefruit exports to Australia and citrus exports to Myanmar and East Timor.

Egypt entered the Turkish market with exports of potatoes, onions, and mango seedlings, and began exporting trowels, potatoes, grapes and onions to Serbia, garlic to Brazil, and various fruits and vegetables to Japan.

The ban on all Egyptian exports to the Arab Gulf countries had been lifted and that Egyptian exports of onions to Saudi Arabia have also resumed.

In 2017, Saudi Arabia banned the import of various Egyptian crops, including strawberries, peppers, and guava, due to the high percentage of pesticide residue, in violation of international health and safety standards.

Egyptian strawberries were removed from the list of crops subjected to additional inspections at European Union ports which had previously been subjected to additional inspections at a rate of 10 percent for over 7 years.

Grapes were also removed from the list with the fruit having been subject to an additional inspection rate of 20 percent.

The report explained that the total agricultural exports of citrus fruits amounted to about 1.8 million tons, and the exports of citrus fruits increased to reach US$502 million during 2017-2018, compared to US$446 million dollars during 2016-2017.

In addition to this, Egypt exported about 688,000 tons of potatoes, ranking second in agricultural exports after citrus.

About 586,000 tons of onions were exported, ranking third on the exports list and grapes ranked fourth, followed by pomegranates in fifth.

Egypt’s garlic exports ranked sixth, while mango exports ranked seventh, followed by strawberries eighth, and beans ninth. Guava ranked tenth with cucumber ranking eleventh.

In terms of imports into the country, Presidential Decree 25 (2016) increased tariff rates on a wide range of imports, including food and agricultural products, to curb dollar outflows as the country struggled through the foreign currency crisis.

The Egyptian government stressed that the tariff increases comply with World Trade Organization (WTO) obligations as the increases are within the bound rates.

The Egyptian government is consolidating the national food safety system. Implementation is through Prime Ministerial Executive Regulation 412 (February 2019) – National Food Safety Authority (NFSA).

On January 2, 2017, Egypt’s parliament approved Law No. 1 (2017) establishing the National Food Safety Authority; publishing it in the country’s official gazette on January 10, 2017.

The implementing regulation mandates that the National Food Safety Authority assume full responsibility from other ministries, public institutions, government agencies, and municipalities for the regulation of foodstuffs.

This law eliminates the previous patchwork of food-related regulation, which created confusion and inefficiencies for Egyptian exporters and importers alike.

The National Food Safety Authority is expanding its regulatory reach, assuming full regulatory control by mid-2020. Egyptian entities charged with overseeing food safety until then will continue to function.