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Hogan to lead Middle East agri-food trade mission

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Oscar Rousseau

By Oscar Rousseau+


Phil Hogan will lead a diplomatic offensive to halal-dominated food markets in the Middle East
Phil Hogan will lead a diplomatic offensive to halal-dominated food markets in the Middle East

European commissioner for agriculture and rural development Phil Hogan will front an autumnal trade mission to Saudi Arabia and Iran in what could unlock lucrative new deals for halal meat traders.

The purpose is to “enhance cooperation” between the EU, Saudi Arabia and Iran by developing bilateral trade in food products, including beef, poultry and lamb, according to European Commission (EC).

Both Saudi Arabia and Iran are Muslim-majority countries with huge halal food markets. Saudi Arabia already represents the sixth-largest export market for EU agri-food products, generating overseas sales of €4.6bn last year.

With a rise of young, millennial Muslims with higher disposable incomes, the EC hopes Saudi Arabia, the richest country in the Middle East, can “become an increasingly important market for European agri-food products”.

Huge potential for trade

Back from the diplomatic wilderness is Iran, thanks to the so-called nuclear deal between the country and the US, UK, France, China, Russia and Germany in 2016. The deal lifted crippling economic sanctions on Iran that had put pressure on its economy and trade.

There is little established trade in meat and food trade between Iran and the EU, as the nuclear deal was only struck in January last year. But Iran is now an aspiring World Trade Organization member and the EC claim the country’s 80m population, coupled with a growing economy means “the potential for increasing trade in EU agri-food products is significant”.

Senior business figures will follow Hogan on his trade mission to the Middle East, although names have not been disclosed. All figures who do attend will be repressive from the sectors that the EC believes has the most significant trade potential with Saudi Arabia and Iran.

For Saudi Arabia, this means poultry and beef processors, as well as representatives from fresh and frozen fruit and vegetables, olive oil, bakery, confectionary, and provides of cereals for human and animal consumption.

Key sectors for Iran include beef and sheep meat processors, food and feed additives, olive oil, cereals and oilseed.

Business forums will be set up for representatives to meet local companies in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and Tehran, Iran.

The diplomatic offensive runs from 7-12 November 2017.

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