Sudan Source Country For Cattle Imports To Malaysia
By R. Ravichandran
KUALA LUMPUR, April 19 (Bernama) -- Sudan has become a source country for cattle imports to Malaysia following an agreement by a group of Malaysian companies to import 200,000 live cattle from the African country this year.
The number is expected to increase to 400,000 live cattle next year, said Sudan Deputy Ambassador to Malaysia Kamal Gubara.
"We consider the exports as a major breakthrough after trying for few years to penetrate the Malaysian market," he told Bernama in an interview.
The first consignment is expected to arrive in July, said Kamal, who is also Head of the Economic and Trade Section of the Sudanese Embassy in Malaysia.
He said the decision to import cattle from Sudan followed the signing of three memorandums of understanding (MoUs) in Khartoum on March 27 between a group of Malaysian companies and Sudan's Ministry of Animal Resources, Sudan's White Nile State and the Chamber of Commerce of the White Nile State.
The signing ceremony was witnessed by Imad Mahmoud, Deputy Undersecretary of the Sudan Ministry of Foreign Trade.
"The Ministry of Animal Resources will provide the necessary help for the cattle to be imported to Malaysia according to international standards," he said.
During the group's week-long visit to Sudan, they visited cattle farms and met relevant officials and were happy with the quality of Sudanese cattle.
"They were convinced there is big business in this field and decided to import cattle from Sudan. They are also satisfied to find that the rearing, breeding and feeding were done according to halal procedures," he said.
To facilitate the business, Kamal said the group decided to be part of a proposed Malaysian-Sudanese Bank.
They met the Central Bank Governor Dr Sabir Mohammed Hassan who responded positively to the formation of the proposed bank, saying the Central Bank will be glad to facilitate the establishment of the said bank, provided the two sides were ready financially, Kamal said.
Under the MoU signed, the group will have a 60 per cent stake in the proposed bank while the remaining 40 per cent will be taken up by some big companies in Sudan.
Kamal said Sudanese cattle are reared in healthy conditions, conforming to international certification, and in natural grazing and fed with organic food.
"The beef is considered one of the best with excellent taste. We export to Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Gulf countries, among others," he said.
Kamal said cattle exports to Malaysia would help increase the volume of bilateral trade between Sudan and Malaysia, probably by two-fold.
Bilateral trade stood at RM342 million in 2008 and between January and August 2009, it was RM241 million. Malaysia's exports are mainly electrical and electronic products, palm oil and furniture while imports from the north-eastern African country are oil, gum-arabic, sesame seeds and roselle (hibiscus sabdariffa)
Currently, over 50 Malaysian companies are operating in Sudan where Malaysia is the second most important economic partner after China and one of its major investors.
Petronas, the national oil corporation, is the largest Malaysian company and a key player in Sudan's oil and gas industry.
In January this year, Sudan also signed an agreement with Egypt to export live cattle, another success in opening new markets.
With more than 130 million cattle, sheep, goats and camels, Sudan is one of the richest African countries in livestock. Sudan is estimated to have 43 million heads of cattle.
Oil-exporting Sudan is Africa's biggest country and the 17th fastest growing economy in the world following the government's attractive economic policies and infrastructure development over the past 10 years.