Yemen adopts new trade & supplies policy [Archives:2003/629/Business & Economy]

March 31 2003

The Yemeni government has adopted a new trade and supplies policy to face a situation embodied by an economic crisis and rise in prices of commodities and food stuffs by a rate ranging between 15-20 per cent and fluctuation in the national currency exchange rate by 5 per cent.
The council of ministers has entrusted the ministry of industry & trade with supervising provision and distribution of food stuffs and stability of their prices, in addition to taking necessary measures for monitoring quantities available stored in silos and flour mills as well as warehouses owned by merchants and also monitoring quantities of goods and commodities unloaded at sea ports.
The government fears from facing a food crisis leading to famine and instability of the living standard and retreat in production and volume of exports. The government has therefore decided to administer the reserve in food stuffs, medicines and oil products. It has also confirmed the necessity that governorates governors, local councils and departments of the ministry of industry and trade should take part in supervising soundness of storage and distribution of food stuffs in the governorates and the capital. This measure discloses that the government has relatively backed down from the free market economy. The objective seems to be to prevent monopoly and manipulation of prices and the achievement of justice in distribution as well as prevention of trade forfeiting in manufacturing goods. The government has also decided to prepare a list fixing prices of food stuffs available in the market, which is a measure taken for the first time in 13 years since the beginning of the implementation of free market mechanism. According to that measure the ministry of industry and trade would resort imposing an auditor on prices and punishment of those violating the instructions.
The government decision stipulated obliging the merchants and importers to report to the ministry of industry and trade with statements on quantities stored by them, quantities imported and those sold and transported to governorates. This is a measure the government has not taken before and expresses fears by the government of a crisis in supplies. The new trade policy has issued certain controls to curb smuggling of food commodities, oil products and liquefied gas smuggled to some neighboring countries, especially in the Horn of Africa.
Regarding medicines, the government has confirmed the importance of taking a decision by the ministries of health and oil on adopting all measures for securing the flow of medicines and oil products and effecting certain mechanisms for distribution.
This policy has come after the government had observed a crisis in supplies and rise in food goods in the wake oft he Anglo-American war on Iraq and the public keenness on buying their food needs in precaution of their possible non-availability in the market needs.