Magrabi Agriculture Company achieved a slight increase in exports this year, reaching 59,000 tonnes, up from 57,000 tonnes in 2016, thanks to the increase in grape exports.
Ibrahim Al-Banna, director of the Magrabi Agriculture Company’s export department, said that the company relies mainly on citrus in exports, followed by grapes and smaller quantities of different other products.
He pointed out that citrus exports remained stable at 50,000 tonnes this year, while grapes exports increased to 8,000 tonnes, up from 6,000 tonnes last year, next to the stability of exports of other products at about 1,000 tonnes.
He added that the opportunity was available for the market to increase exports following the flotation of the pound through offering more competitive prices. Yet, Egyptian products failed to do so, as exporters rely on their farms only to maintain specific quality, which did not increase production, and kept the exports rates fixed.
Al-Banna also said that the company is now considering increasing the size of its agriculture lands through leasing farms or buying new areas.
He explained that it is likely that the increase will focus on grapes in Upper Egypt, as the production of Upper Egypt ripens earlier, which makes the Egyptian products more competitive on global markets.
Egypt’s citrus exports rose to 1.5 million tonnes from 1.2 million tonnes in the previous season.
Al-Banna said that the increase in citrus exports was driven by the growing size of contracts with China and Jordan, which prompted even more Egyptian exporters to deal with them.
As for the trade cooperation with China in the cultivation of grapes, Al-Banna said that the benefit will be low, as the Egyptian grape season comes at the same time as in China, which limits exports to the country.
He noted that the European Union accounts for 50% of the company’s annual exports, while Arab countries account for 20%. The rest of the production is channeled to East Asia and Africa.
He explained that the flotation helped Egyptians lower their global prices to attract new clients and increase the size of the contracts they have, which made Egyptian production more competitive compared to markets of Turkey, Morocco, Spain, and Israel that are usually competing with the Egyptian production.
He stressed the need to take interest in new markets, especially in Africa, and work on solving the problems that face exporters there, especially the high cost of shipping.
Moreover, he said that the diversity of export markets gives Egyptian production the ability to increase and expand and grantee a plan B in case exports to certain countries drop sharply, which happened before in Syria, Yemen, and Libya.
Al-Banna said that there are many promising markets, which need signing of agreements and trade cooperation protocols by the government to ensure Egyptian exporters get their entitlements, including Philippines, Japan, Vietnam, and Thailand.
He explained that opening these markets for Egyptian production needs communication with the quarantine authority.
He added that the Egyptian Quarantine Authority has an important role in this process, as it plays the role of the cornerstone for opening any new markets.