Iraq fruit import restrictions to cause Middle East overload

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Iraq fruit import restrictions to cause Middle East overload

A Middle East produce market expert says Iraq's import restrictions on certain fruits will lead to an oversupply in the region's trading hub Dubai.

Iraq's Commission on Economic Affairs issued a statement late last month that it would only approve the import of fruits not grown in Iraq, like pineapples, bananas, kiwifruit and apples.

G.F. Marketing director David Pearce tells the decision will have a significant impact on exporters to the region.

"The Iraqi market is closed for imports until further notice. As the U.S. is moving out there’s more of a sense of lawlessness in the country, and the government wants people to be eating food produced in Iraq," he says.

"Iraq accounts for 25% of the fruit that’s sold in Dubai and 99% of fruit exporters who ship to Dubai don’t know this, so there’s going to be an impact.

"It means that with all the exports going to Dubai it is going to be very oversupplied."

Other Middle East sanctions

Pearce's company exports Chilean and South African fruit to the region, so he can only discuss the status of sanctions for those fruits. While Iran has been blocked for these countries so far, the situation is changing.

"The government is to decide after Feb. 5 as to whether it will allow South African and Chilean apples, and South African citrus, into Iran in 2012," he says.

"If you’re only depending on Iran then it’s going to be a mess for you, but most exporters ship to the whole of the Middle East."

He says Syria is also closed in state of 'virtual civil war', but it is not such a large market for exporters.

"Most of our fruit to Syria would go through Jordan, but it’s maybe 2-3% so it’s not going to have a big impact on us."

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