Bahrain’s food import costs set to hit $1bn
Manama, August 7, 2014
Food import costs are expected to top the $1 billion (BD377 million) mark for the first time in Bahrain this year as the country increases its reliance on imported goods.
According to London-based Economic Intelligence Unit (EIU), Bahrain is expected to spend an additional $100 million (BD37.7 million) on food every year from now until 2020 - when the import bill is forecast to hit $1.6 billion (BD603 million), said a report in the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.
In its latest report ‘The GCC in 2020: Resources for the Future,’ the EIU, a forecasting and advisory services firm, revealed that Bahrain had spent $900 million (BD373 million) on food imports in 2013 - and attributed the predicted increase over the rest of the decade to an expected boom in both population and wealth.
“The member countries of the GCC are expected to post robust growth over the next decade both in terms of population and gross domestic product (GDP),” said the report.
“By 2020, the GCC population is forecast to reach 53.5 million, a 30 per cent increase over the level in 2000 and over the same period, the region’s real GDP is expected to grow by 56 per cent.”
Although positive, this economic forecast carries an inherent risk Ð as unmanaged growth will bring negative side effects such as power shortages and soaring prices, the EIU warned.
“A growing GCC population points towards increased dependence on imported food staples.”
“Food imports are projected to grow to $53.1 billion by 2020, or 8pc of all imports in value terms.
“Ensuring food imports remain available at an affordable price is a key strategic priority for the GCC.
“The region’s dependence on desalinated water means that meeting more of its food needs through domestic production is not an option in the long term Ð although some GCC states continue to subsidise domestic agriculture as part of their food security strategy and to protect livelihoods in the remaining rural communities.”
Bahrain has already taken steps to ensure food security, as just last month the GDN reported on a crackdown on fish ‘smugglers’ who take advantage of an indirect subsidy on locally-caught fresh fish.
Yet more of this kind of focus on non-water intensive food-producing sectors is now required.
“GCC countries are likely to maintain domestic production of fish, dairy and crops that are not water-intensive, such as dates.” - TradeArabia News Service