- The Ethiopian Foreign Ministry is into hard lobbying in Egypt to revive its lucrative exports of meat and live cattle, which were halted in early 2006.
According to the Ethiopian Embassy in Egypt, Ethiopia is currently "exerting efforts to improve the trade relations between the two countries." Ambassador Ibrahim Idris in particular is pushing Cairo authorities to lift a ban on meat and livestock imports from Ethiopia.
Ambassador Idris is arguing that trade relations needed to be "fair" and points to the "significant volume of commodities" being imported from Egypt to Ethiopia, while Egyptian imports from Ethiopia currently are minimal. "The embassy is working hard to address the negative balanced trade relations between the two nations," the Ambassador said.
He then made special reference to the meat and cattle trade, saying that "the embassy is making efforts to facilitate the recommencement of livestock and meat products export to Egypt." Ethiopia's livestock and meat exports to Egypt were ceased in early 2006 "due to various reasons," the ambassador said. In fact, the highly infectious foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) was found in Ethiopian cattle already on the Egyptian market in January 2006, causing Cairo authorities to immediately stop all imports. Ethiopia now claims to have the animal disease outbreak under control.
The ban came only a few years after Ethiopia's large meat and cattle export companies had gained entry to the Egyptian market, in fierce competition with cattle from Sudan. Ethiopian meat and live cattle was already sold at large scale in several Middle East countries, and was marketed as both cheap and healthy on the Egyptian market.
The cattle industry is one of the Ethiopian economy's quickest growing export industries and turning into one of the country's leading foreign currency earners. The industry had particular high expectations in the large Egyptian meat market, where consumers and authorities cried out for more and cheaper meat.
The ban therefore came as a great setback for Ethiopian exporters. Shortly before the ban, arrangements had been made for the development of a meat package industry in Ethiopia to ease exports to Egypt. After the ban, Addis Ababa authorities have focused on programmes to improve animal health, hygiene standards and meat quality to avoid further interruptions in the lucrative trade. Now, they hold, they are ready to return to the Egyptian market.
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