The Chinese farm sector has the potential to grab a major share of the growing bilateral trade with the UAE, which is now dominated by manufactured goods and stands at US$ 15.6 billion in 2012.
Besides, the GCC states and other Arab countries, which spent more than US$ 200 billion between 1990 and 2008 on their farm imports, are an attractive market for competitively priced Chinese farm products, equipment and agri inputs.
The imports are expected to have widened in the following years and is set to expand in the coming years due to high population growth, rising income levels and consumption rates, and a desert environment that makes farming tough.
Aiming to tap into this fertile market, hundreds of leading Chinese agriculture companies, chemicals, fertilizers and equipment makers and promoters of latest farming techniques are taking part in the China Agriculture Expo, which is being held as part of the 11th Chinese Commodities Fair Sharjah at Expo Centre Sharjah from December 10 to 13, 2012.
The show was inaugurated by H.E. Sheikh Saqr Bin Mohammed Bin Khalid Al Qassimi, Chairman of Sharjah Department of Islamic Affairs, in the presence of Ms. Wang Weili, Deputy Director, China International Center for Economic and Technical Exchanges (CICETE), Minister of Commerce of China; Zhang Yi, Consul, Economic and Commercial Section of Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China in Dubai; Hao Feng, President of China Machinery & Electronics Products Exhibition Center (Chinamex); Ahmed Mohammed Al Midfa, Chairman, Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry; Saif Mohammed Al Midfa, Director-General, Expo Centre Sharjah; Patrick Zheng Shuo, General Manager, Chinamex; officials from Chinese missions in the UAE, local government officials and industry representatives.
“China is the UAE’s second largest trade partner, with imports from China mainly comprising manufactured goods while in the region the demand for food and food products are on the rise. Similarly, the requirements for farming techniques, especially for organic farming, that suit our climate are also increasing. This clearly suggests that there is good scope for Chinese agri products and farming techniques in the region,” said Ahmed Mohammed Al Midfa.
“The China Agriculture Expo will also open new investment channels for regional enterprises and help explore joint venture opportunities in the field,” he added.
According to the UAE Ministry of Foreign Trade, the trade between the UAE and China grew to US$ 15.6 billion in 2012, against US$ 14.2 billion in 2011, registering a 10 per cent rise. The imports from China mainly included electronic appliances, radio-audio recording devices, cameras, mechanical tools and devices, and articles of iron and steel, while strategic focus areas for cooperation remained financing, real estate, construction and foreign trade.
“The characteristics of desert environment like high temperature, rarity of water resources and high salinity of the soil have made farming tough in our part of the world and the agriculture sector’s contribution to the GDP is minimal when compared to other non-renewable resources. This highlights the issue of rising food imports. Chinese Commodities Fair Sharjah’s first China Agriculture Expo will surely put the spotlight on the regional agriculture industry,” said Saif Mohammed Al Midfa.
According to Arab Organization for Agricultural Development, the gap in most farm products has worsened over the past years, with that in grain and flour rising from around US$ 8.5 billion in 2004 to US$ 9.1 billion in 2005, and US$ 9.58 billion in 2006. Wheat widened from US$ 4.4 billion in 2004 to US$ 4.6 billion in 2006 while that in corn surged from around US$ 1.5 billion to US$ 2.02 billion. The gap in rice also grew from US$ 1.24 billion to US$ 1.32 billion and that of barley jumped from nearly US$ 868 million to US$ 1.9 billion during the same period.
“This is the first time that the Chinese government is going global with its agricultural enterprises and farm products. The exhibitors at the show are all leading establishments in the field of agricultural technology, farming techniques and farm products and inputs. Another highlight of this showcase is that all the products displayed are environment-
“This is also for the first time that the Chinese Commodities Fair Sharjah is having an agricultural theme. Adhering to the theme, we are devoting ourselves to promoting cooperation between China and Arabian countries and introducing Chinese agriculture into Middle East countries,” he said.
In the course of four days, the show will display agricultural products, packaged food, beverages, livestock and poultry (no pork), fruit and its products, oils, frozen food, condiments, dried food, cereals, vegetable and vegetable products, canned food, chemicals and bio-fertilizers, farming equipment, waste management, food processing machines, greenhouses, irrigation and landscaping equipment, organic farming, pesticides, seeds and soil nutrition products, spraying machinery, water treatment and water management systems.
The show will run until 13th December and the timings are from 10am to 6pm daily.