Reprieve to Somalia as Saudi Arabia lifts ban on livestock imports
MOGADISHU, Somalia - Somalia's bilateral relationship with Saudi Arabia has been boosted tremendously following the lift of the ban on livestock imports, a move that will open the Horn of Africa nation's international trade.
For a couple of years, Saudi Arabia banned livestock imports, particularly hides and skin, a move that negatively impacted the country's foreign income, which has been on the decline for decades.
Through the Ministry of Environment, Water, and Agriculture, Riyadh suspended the ban, a critical move that would give President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo a huge boost to resuscitate his dwindling political fortunes.
Since taking over in 2017, Farmajo, among others, has been facing criticism from the opposition and Somalis in the diaspora, who accuse him of "severing" diplomatic relationship with the country's traditional friends.
In a statement seen by Garowe Online, Saudi Arabia said: "The Ministry temporarily lifted the ban on importing meat [living livestock] from the Republic of Somalia, with the aim of strengthening local markets with imported livestock, in line with the role and responsibilities of the Ministry in ensuring food supply.”
Somalia is a major exporter of livestock; both living and processed products, which earns the impoverished nation foreign income, which plays a pivotal role in uplifting its a diminished economy that largely depends on donor funds.
According to the ministry, it's probably projected that at least 600,000 sheep and 100,000 camels will be delivered from Somalia to Saudi Arabia market within the next month to meet the rising demands.
This, Saudi Arabia added, will not be affected by the current Coronavirus uncertainty, given that all necessary requirements including quarantining, have been set to allow the plans to be executed without interruptions.
Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman Al Saud has been keen to restore normalcy within Riyadh and Mogadishu, which was occasioned by political differences. Saudi Arabia has not been closely supporting Somalia for some months now.
So fragile has been the relationship that Turkey and Qatar took advantage of, positioning themselves as "defacto" social-economic and geopolitical friends, something manifested in their infrastructural development in Somalia.
"This directive will be implemented immediately. It's good for both countries. We look forward to working closely with Somalia authorities as we revamp our trade partners for the sake of our people," the statement added.
For months now, Somalia has invested in resuscitating it's dwindling financial fortunes, occasioning the shuttle diplomatic missions, which have since yielded fruits.
A fortnight ago, the Paris Club Creditors, International Monetary Fund [IMF] and World Bank pumped millions of dollars towards clearing Somalia's debt, which stood at $5.2 billion as of last year.
The Paris Club Creditors cleared $1.7 billion while the two international lenders have pledged to reduce the amount to $534 million. Somalia has since qualified for the HIPC program, a further milestone for economic growth.