Trade chambers union attributes prise rises to international factors [Archives:2006/996/Local News]

November 6 2006

SANA'A, Nov. 1 ) In a statement released last Monday, the General Union of Trade and Industry Chambers (GUTIC) attributed skyrocketing basic commodity prices to international price hikes.

“Yemen imports most of its basic needs from abroad, including crude materials and products. Only those nations exporting commodities to Yemen can control prices. Regarding wheat, the price of which increased within the past three months due to drought in wheat-producing regions, thus resulting in a reduction estimated at 40 million tons. Wheat prices rose from $170 to $250 per ton and are expected to increase,” the statement read.

GUTIC attributed the 100 percent increase in egg prices to bankruptcy of poultry farms abroad, which halted production due to the spread of bird flu.

Visiting local egg and chicken merchants, the Yemen Times questioned shopkeepers about the difference in past and current prices, as well as consumer purchasing power. The sellers replied that despite price increases, purchasing power remains steady because consumers are compelled to buy chicken and eggs to feed their families.

Regarding the rumored spread of bird flu and its influence on purchasing power, one egg and chicken seller stated to local media, “I exerted efforts to persuade citizens that the epidemic doesn't exist in Yemen, and even if it does, it has no effect on consumers' health if eggs and chicken are cooked well.”

He added, “Egg and chicken sales have remained steady since we heard about the bird flu. Trade chamber statements that Yemeni poultry farms have been affected by the epidemic are incorrect; however, this may have happened in other countries.”

Wheat and flour prices suddenly increased at the beginning of Ramadan, while citizens were expecting prices to decrease after President Ali Abdullah Saleh slammed those who monopolize commodities and raise prices.

Economic sources mentioned that Yemeni wheat and flour prices exceed their international prices, adding that wheat and flour imports seemingly are monopolized in Yemen. Consequently, there's no remarkable competition to reduce citizens' suffering caused by traders who monopolize foodstuffs to raise their prices.

Remarkably, in some capital city zones, many citizens have been lining up at bakeries. As people complain about lack of wheat and flour in stores, this has led to reducing loaf sizes at bakeries.

Public concern is rising as traders monopolize wheat and flour to increase their prices and no one rules out that Sana'a may experience an unprecedented bread crisis unless concerned parties take quick action on the issue in coming days.

According to reliable sources, flour increased by YR 900 to YR 3,500 per 50 kilograms, while wheat rose to YR 3,400 per 50 kilograms without intervention by concerned parties in the crisis.