India has surpassed Brazil to become the No. 1 food supplier to the League of Arab States for the first time in 15 years as the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted trade flows in 2020.
According to data provided by the Arab-Brazil Chamber of Commerce to news agency Reuters, Brazil accounted for 8.15% of the total agribusiness products imported by the 22 League members last year, whereas India captured 8.25% of that trade, ending Brazil’s 15-year reign at the top.
Brazil not only fell behind India, but it also lost to other international exporters such as Turkey, the United States, France and Argentina amid disruptions on traditional shipping routes..
Brazilian shipments to Saudi Arabia that once took 30 days could now take up to 60 days, according to the Chamber, whereas India’s geographic advantages allow it to ship fruits, vegetables, sugar, grains and meat.
Brazil’s agricultural exports to the Arab League rose just 1.4% by value to $8.17 billion last year. Between January and October this year, sales totalled $6.78 billion, up 5.5%, as logistics problems subsided, Chamber data showed.
China’s push to boost its own food inventories during the pandemic also diverted some of Brazil’s trade with the Arabs, leading countries such as Saudi Arabia to step up promotion of domestic food production, while seeking alternative suppliers.
“It’s a turning point. The Saudis are still big buyers, but they are also net re-exporters of food,” the Chamber said in a statement.