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Australia wants to be solution provider for UAE food security programme

Dubai: Australia wants to be an international solution provider for most of the countries which has food security issues, according to Andrew Robb, Australia Trade and Investment Minister.

“Australia is internationally recognised for producing food with high levels of safety and has an enabling role can play to support the UAE in its food security programme,” he said at “Australia Unlimited Mena 2014”, an event which was held in Dubai on Sunday.

The Gulf region faces food security challenges and needs certainty of supply and diversification from individual suppliers and Australia will be able to provide sustainable food supply, he added.

The UAE currently imports approximately 90 per cent of what it consumes. However, the county has a growing population and the entire region is severely challenged by an extreme climate and a scarcity of water.

In the UAE, food imports were valued at $3 billion (Dh11 billion) in 2011 and are expected to reach $8.4 billion by 2020, according to Australia food safety and logistics release.

Food safety and logistic is one of the main challenges facing the food industry across the UAE, Mahmoud Al Bastaki, CEO of Dubai Trades, told Gulf News during the Australia Unlimited Mena 2014.

“Australia is one of the major food import market for the UAE but logistic issues is an obstacle in the face of enhancing food trade between the two countries.”

Because of the long distance many kinds of food can’t be transport to the UAE, he said.

“We have many cases where some food products reached the port in a very bad condition and had been thrown away,” he said.

Currently, meat and cereals top the UAE imports list from Australia but this list can be diversified, Robb said.

The total value of Australian agrifood production was A$42.6 billion in 2012, a 3.4 per cent increase compared to 2011.

In 2012 Australian food export increased by 12.3 per cent to A$30.5 billion, the highest level since 2002.

More than 50 per cent of the Australian’s food exports were to Asia in 2011 and 2012.