KUWAIT CITY: Kuwait is pleading with the Australian government to waive the upcoming suspension of live animal exports to the Middle East, arguing that halting the sheep trade would compound the damage the coronavirus has done to the region’s food security, reports Australian Financial Review.
The Kuwait Livestock Transport and Trading Company (KLTT) and the Kuwaiti government have written to Agriculture Minister David Littleproud warning that the bilateral relationship will face strains if Australia goes ahead with its summer export ban from June 1.
The warning comes as the government scrambles to diversify and find new customers for barley displaced by China’s punitive tariffs, with Kuwait identified as one of the markets that could take up some of the slack.
After a fresh controversy erupted over the mass death of sheep from heat stress during a voyage in August 2017, Littleproud oversaw the introduction of a number of regulatory changes including a reduction in stocking density, deploying independent observers on vessels and suspending exports during the hot northern summer months.
But with the coronavirus forcing Middle Eastern airlines to ground their fleets, dramatically reducing the amount of fresh food bound for Arab states including chilled meat, produce and dairy products, Kuwait said the export ban – which runs until mid September – risks causing further hardship for people living in the region. On the other hand, Australian Ambassador to Kuwait Jonathan Gilbert stressed that the sheep shipments from his country stop annually during the summer, not only for Kuwait but for all countries in the region, in order to maintain the safety of livestock due to the weather, but they resume in the rest of the months of the year, explaining that Kuwait imports annually, before beginning of the Australian ban which starts on June 1, enough quantities for the remainder of the ban that ends on September 22 each year.
He revealed in a statement to “Al- Rai” that the ban period this year will be short, as it will end on September 14, stressing that the Kuwaiti Livestock Company has imported large quantities sufficient for it during the ban period.
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