FAO Food Price Index inched up in May for third consecutive month

ROME: The benchmark for world food commodity prices increased for the third consecutive month in May, as higher prices of cereals and dairy products outweighed decreases in quotations for sugar and vegetable oils, the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) reported Friday.

The FAO Food Price Index, which tracks monthly changes in the international prices of a set of globally-traded food commodities, averaged 120.4 points in May, up 0.9 percent from its revised April level, while it remained down 3.4 percent from its level a year ago and 24.9 percent below its March 2022 peak.

The FAO Cereal Price Index rose by 6.3 percent from April, powered higher by rising global wheat export prices, reflecting growing concerns about unfavourable crop conditions curbing yields for the 2024 harvests in major producing areas including parts of Northern America, Europe and the Black Sea region. Maize export prices also increased in May, pushed up by production concerns in both Argentina, due to the Spi
roplasma disease (also known as corn stunt disease), and Brazil, due to unfavourable weather, as well as spillover effects from the wheat markets and limited selling activity in Ukraine. The FAO All-Rice Price Index rose by 1.3 percent in May,.

The FAO Dairy Price Index increased by 1.8 percent from April, underpinned by increased demand from the retail and food services sectors ahead of the summer holidays as well as market expectations that milk production in Western Europe may fall below historical levels. Renewed import demand for spot supplies from some countries in the Near East and North Africa also lifted dairy prices.

The FAO Sugar Price Index, meanwhile, decreased by 7.5 percent from April, mainly driven by pressure from the good start of the new harvest season in Brazil. Lower international crude oil prices also exerted downward pressure on sugar prices, by lowering demand.

The FAO Vegetable Oil Price Index declined by 2.4 percent from April. Lower palm oil quotations due to seasonal output incr
eases and ongoing weak global demand more than offset higher prices of soy oil, due to increasing demand from the biofuel sector, and firmer prices of rapeseed and sunflower oils due mainly to diminishing export availabilities in the Black Sea region.

The FAO Meat Price Index decreased marginally, by 0.2 percent, as international prices of poultry and bovine meats fell while those of pig and ovine meats increased.

Source: Emirates News Agency

Yunnan’s flourishing flower market poised for global dominance

KUNMING: The Dounan Flower Market, located in Kunming City, capital of Yunnan Province in southwest China, is poised to establish a dominant position in the global market due to its extensive range of floral varieties, desirable quality, and affordable prices.

As per China Global Television Network (CGTN), the thriving flower market is the primary supplier, accounting for more than 70 percent of the flowers distributed throughout China. Essentially, this market is the origin of flowers for seven in every ten bouquets found in the country.

For many Chinese people, buying fresh-cut flowers has increasingly become a part of daily life.

“There are so many more options to choose from when buying flowers here for my girlfriend. I got these roses, and they cost only 25 yuan (3.45 U.S. dollars),” said a visitor.

Three decades ago, the Dounan Flower Market was simply a street lined with roadside stalls selling flowers. However, it has since transformed into Asia’s largest and the world’s second-largest fresh-cut f
lower trading market after Amsterdam.

“Yunnan Province boasts over 300 varieties of flowers, with seven out of 10 flowers in China being produced here. The exquisite floral diversity from Yunnan reaches over 50 countries and regions, contributing to an impressive export value of approximately 3.4 billion yuan (470 million U.S. dollars) in the first quarter of 2024,” said Qian Chongjun, CEO of Yunnan Dounan Flower Group.

The market experiences two bustling periods every day. From 08:00 to 17:00, both tourists and locals flock to shop for their favorite flowers, with the blooms during this time being particularly popular.

“We arrive early to arrange our flowers at the stalls, personally trim them, package them into finished products, and eagerly await potential buyers,” said Li Ming, a seller.

The morning trading session concludes by 17:30, signaling the arrival of the night vendors.

There’s a noticeable difference at night. Unlike the roses and sunflowers seen in the morning, the evening brings a variety
of flowers unfamiliar to many.

“During the night, our customers mainly consist of wholesalers. To guarantee the freshness of the flowers, they are sent express in the midnight to reach their destinations the following morning. By the afternoon, these flowers can be found in various flower shops,” said Zhang Han, a seller.

Nowadays, flowers sent from the Dounan Flower Market are delivered to over 200 cities across China in just 48 hours by road, rail or air.

Courier services such as EMS and ZTO Express are ubiquitous in this area.

In Dounan, out of the 70,000 permanent residents, 40,000 are involved in the flower industry. Here, all the necessary flower plants thrive, benefiting from the terrain advantage and unique natural and climatic conditions.

Experts predict that the Dounan Flower Market is in a favorable position to surpass Amsterdam and become the leading global hub for fresh-cut flower trading over the next 10 years.

Source: Emirates News Agency

World cereal stocks likely increase by 1.5% to a record level of 897 million tonnes: FAO

ROME: The first forecast of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) for the 2024/25 (July/June) season anticipates world cereal production to total 2 846 million tonnes, virtually on par with the record output realised in 2023/24. Global maize and wheat outputs are forecast to decline, while those of barley, rice and sorghum are predicted to increase, according to the new Cereal Supply and Demand Brief, released Friday. However, the recent adverse weather conditions in the Black Sea region will likely result in a downgrade in world wheat production, a possibility not yet reflected in the forecast.

World cereal total utilization in 2024/25 is expected to increase by 0.5 percent to a new record high of 2 851 million tonnes, led by increased food consumption, especially of rice.

World cereal stocks will likely increase by 1.5 percent above their opening levels to a record level of 897 million tonnes. Inventories of maize, barley, sorghum and rice are all expected to increase, while th
ose of wheat could decline. The global stocks-to-use ratio will likely remain at 30.9 percent.

FAO predicts world trade in cereals to decline by 1.3 percent from the previous year to 481 million tonnes, led by lower trade prospects for maize. International rice trade is forecast to grow robustly.

Source: Emirates News Agency

Kuwait oil price up to US$82.44 pb

KUWAIT: The price of Kuwaiti oil went up 81 cents to US$82.44 pb on Friday, compared to US$81.63 pb the day before, said Kuwait Petroleum Corporation (KPC) on Saturday.

According to Kuwait News Agency (KUNA), the price of the Brent crude futures’ contracts went down 25 cents to $79.62 pb, as did the West Texas Intermediate crude, going down two cents to $75.53 pb.

Source: Emirates News Agency

Sharjah delegation wraps up Shanghai visit with 20+ key meetings to boost development, economic ties

SHARJAH: At the conclusion of a seven-day visit to the People’s Republic of China, a Sharjah delegation led by the Department of Government Relations (DGR) held a series of meetings in Shanghai, the country’s most populous city and economic capital.

Between June 6th and 8th, the delegation deliberated in more than 20 meetings on sustainable urban management, advancing urban planning, and exhibition development.

The Shanghai meetings encompassed a diverse range of topics, including the enhancement of human resource skills, Shanghai’s innovative endeavours in smart city infrastructure and technology museums, and initiatives aimed at empowering women.

Additionally, discussions focused on supporting youth-driven projects and tackling broader developmental challenges. These comprehensive talks highlighted the importance of strategic partnerships in driving mutual growth, reinforcing the bond between the UAE and China, and paving the way for a collaborative future.

Sheikh Fahim Al Qasimi, Chairman of the Depart
ment of Government Relations, underscored the strategic importance of the Sharjah delegation’s visit to Shanghai. He viewed it as a significant stride towards exploring new avenues for collaboration, particularly in economy and urban development. He said, ‘Sharjah and Shanghai share a development vision deeply rooted in innovation and knowledge. It opens up opportunities for cooperation on sustainable projects that can benefit both communities.

“Guided by H.H. Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, the emirate is committed to building communication bridges and strengthening economic partnerships with leading global entities in line with our developmental goals.”

On day one of the Shanghai visit, the delegation held 12 meetings. Leaders and directors from various Sharjah entities met with representatives from different economic, academic, cultural, and tourism institutions. These included the Shanghai Commission of Commerce, Fudan University, the Shanghai Women
Federation, the Shanghai Science and Technology Museum, the Shanghai Astronomy Museum, the Shanghai Bureau of Ecology and Environment, the Shanghai Library, the Shanghai Urban Planning and Exhibition Centre, and the Shanghai Smart City Development Institute, and Shanghai Jiaotong University.

Commenting on the visit, Hussain Al Mahmoudi, CEO of the Sharjah Research, Technology, and Innovation Park (SRTIP), said, ‘We are dedicated to advancing the research and technology sector, bolstering Sharjah’s status as a hub for innovation and knowledge, and strive to make significant contributions to the emirate’s sustainable development journey.

“Partnering with Chinese research institutions underscores our commitment to international cooperation and expertise exchange, and we look forward to collaborating with various public and private organisations in research and technology to advance our capabilities and strengthen ties between China and Sharjah, making the emirate an appealing destination for Chinese investment
s in multiple sectors.’

The second day in Shanghai featured 9 meetings with representatives from various Chinese public and private institutions. These included the Shanghai Tourism and Culture Bureau, the Shanghai Health Authority, the Shanghai Stock Exchange, the Lin-gang Free Trade Zone, the China Center for Urban Development and Reform at Shanghai International Studies University, the Shanghai Youth Centre, the Shanghai Museum, and the Shanghai Human Resources and Social Security Bureau.

Ali Mohammed Al Naqbi, CEO of Weqaya, Beeah Group, highlighted the importance of the visit, saying, ‘We are thrilled to be part of the Sharjah delegation to the People’s Republic of China, one of the world’s foremost economic powerhouses.

“The visit provided an opportunity to learn about China’s government, aviation, industry, and technological advancements. It enabled us to exchange ideas and expertise to benefit both sides, particularly in sustainability, recycling, AI applications, waste-to-energy, and medical waste
treatment. Engaging with key stakeholders in these fields is crucial to our mission of promoting sustainability, environmental preservation, and achieving national environmental goals and the circular economy. This visit bolsters UAE-China relations and paves the way for promising new avenues of cooperation across multiple sectors.’

During their visit to Shanghai, the Sharjah delegation toured several of the city’s major cultural landmarks and attractions. These included the site of the First National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party, the West Bund Museum, the arts district, the Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Centre, the historic Yu Garden Street, the Shanghai Museum, and a river cruise on the Huangpu River.

Commenting on the visit, Aisha Rashid Deemas, Director General of Sharjah Museums Authority, stressed that the visit is focused on strengthening cooperation across cultural, commercial, and investment fields.

‘It is crucial in deepening our relations and exploring new opportunities, particul
arly in cultural exchange. By fostering broad cooperation and understanding, we support the development of bilateral relations. The authority is committed to strengthening cultural communication and bolstering bonds by organising various events, such as the ‘Moments in the Lives of Muslims in China – Through the Lens of Peter Sanders’ and the ‘Cultural Rapprochement between the UAE and China’, which celebrated our cultural connections with China,’ she said.

This Shanghai stop marked the conclusion of the Sharjah delegation’s seven-day visit to the People’s Republic of China, which took place from June 2nd to 8th and included three major Chinese centres, including Beijing, Shandong Province, and Shanghai.

The visit focused on strengthening government relations, exploring economic, cultural, and tourism cooperation opportunities, and consolidating bilateral ties in education, health, sports, technology, and innovation.

Source: Emirates News Agency

GDP up by 0.3%, employment up by 0.3% in euro area

BRUSSELS: In the first quarter of 2024, seasonally adjusted GDP increased by 0.3% in both the euro area and the EU, compared with the previous quarter, according to an estimate published by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. In the fourth quarter of 2023, GDP had declined by 0.1% in the euro area and had remained stable in the EU.

Compared with the same quarter of the previous year, seasonally adjusted GDP increased by 0.4% in the euro area and by 0.5% in the EU in the first quarter of 2024, after +0.2% in the euro area and +0.3% in the EU in the previous quarter

Malta (+1.3%) recorded the highest increase of GDP compared to the previous quarter, followed by Cyprus (+1.2%) and Croatia (+1.0%). Decreases were observed in Denmark (-1.8%), Estonia (-0.5%) and the Netherlands (-0.1%).

The number of employed persons increased by 0.3% in both the euro area and the EU in the first quarter of 2024, compared with the previous quarter, after +0.3% in the euro area and +0.2% in the EU in the four
th quarter of 2023.

Compared with the same quarter of the previous year, employment increased by 1.0% in the euro area and by 0.9% in the EU in the first quarter of 2024, after +1.2% in the euro area and +1.0% in the EU in the fourth quarter of 2023.

In the first quarter of 2024, Romania (+2.4%), Malta (+1.4%) and Portugal (+1.1%) recorded the highest growth of employment in persons compared with the previous quarter. Decline of employment was recorded in Poland (-0.6%), Slovakia(-0.3%) and Sweden (-0.1%).

Based on seasonally adjusted figures, Eurostat estimates that in the first quarter of 2024, 218.0 million people were employed in the EU, of which 169.9 million were in the euro area.

Source: Emirates News Agency