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NZ sees more gains from fruitful Saudi trade links

Zespri launches Sungold
NZ sees more gains from fruitful Saudi trade links

New Zealand Ambassador Hamish MacMaster has reiterated the importance of Saudi Arabia for his country as a major economic partner.

“Saudi Arabia has been our largest trading partner in the GCC. More than 85 New Zealand companies export their products to the Kingdom, accounting for $ 500 million worth of exports to Saudi Arabia,” he said.

The ambassador made his remarks as he led the recent launch of a new kiwifruit variety — Zespri Sungold — in Saudi Arabia at the New Zealand Embassy in Riyadh.
He said Saudi Arabia is the first GCC country where “we are launching Zespri Sungold kiwifruit. We’re expecting the arrival of several tons of the fruit in a few days’ time.”

The New Zealand envoy said he expects the fruit to help increase his country’s bilateral trade with Saudi Arabia which amounts to $ 1.5 billion.

“Our exports to the Kingdom totals $ 600 million and our imports touch $ 900 million. Our exports include food and dairy products while we import mainly energy from Saudi Arabia,” he said.

He said that the introduction of the new kiwifruit variety is a “new milestone in our bilateral relationship with the Kingdom which started in the 1980s.”

Ben Hughes, Zespri International Limited’s regional manager for the Middle East, Latin America, Africa and India, added that Zespri is one of the world’s largest marketer of kiwi fruit, with the Zespri brand recognized as the world leader.
“Based in New Zealand, Zespri are 100 percent owned by kiwifruit growers, employing almost 300 people. We represent 2,700 growers and manage kiwifruit innovation, production, distribution management and marketing of all varieties of Zespri kiwifruit,” he said.

“Our success around the world is built on solid foundations, working with great people and experienced distributors who understand local conditions and the markets in which they operate,” he said.

He said: “Saudi Arabia is the classic example of this where Zespri is partnering with the Mohammed Abdallah Sharbatly Co. Ltd. which has 10 branches across the Kingdom and throughout the GCC.”


Publication date: 6/6/2014

MERS virus discovered in bat near site of outbreak in Saudi Arabia

Aug. 21, 2013 — A 100% genetic match for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) has been discovered in an insect-eating bat in close proximity to the first known case of the disease in Saudi Arabia. The discovery points to the likely animal origin for the disease, although researchers say that an intermediary animal is likely also involved.

Led by team of investigators from the Center for Infection and Immunity (CII) at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, EcoHealth Alliance, and the Ministry of Health of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the study is the first to search for an animal reservoir for MERS in Saudi Arabia, and the first to identify such a reservoir by finding a genetic match in an animal. Results appear online in Emerging Infectious Diseases, a journal of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“There have been several reports of finding MERS-like viruses in animals. None were a genetic match. In this case we have a virus in an animal that is identical in sequence to the virus found in the first human case. Importantly, it’s coming from the vicinity of that first case,” says W. Ian Lipkin, MD, director of the Center for Infection and Immunity and a co-author of the study.

MERS was first described in September 2012 and continues to spread. Close to 100 cases have been reported worldwide, 70 of them from Saudi Arabia. The causative agent, a new type of coronavirus, has been determined; however, the origin of the virus has been unknown until now.

Over a six-week period during field expeditions in October 2012 and April 2013, the researchers collected more than 1,000 samples from seven bat species in regions where cases of MERS were identified in Bisha, Unaizah, and Riyadh. Extensive analysis was performed using polymerase chain reaction and DNA sequencing revealed the presence of a wide range of alpha and beta coronaviruses in up to a third of bat samples. One fecal sample from an Egyptian Tomb Bat (Taphozous perforatus) collected within a few kilometers of the first known MERS victim’s home contained sequences of a virus identical to those recovered from the victim.

Bats are the reservoirs of viruses that can cause human disease including rabies, Hendra, Nipah, Marburg, and SARS. In some instances the infection may spread directly from bats to humans through inadvertent inhalation of infected aerosols, ingestion of contaminated food, or, less commonly, a bite wound. In other instances bats can first infect intermediate hosts. The researchers suggest that the indirect method for transmission is more likely in MERS.

“There is no evidence of direct exposure to bats in the majority of human cases of MERS,” says Ziad Memish, MD, Deputy Minister of Health, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and lead author of the study. “Given that human-to-human transmission is inefficient, we speculate that an as-yet-to-be determined intermediate host plays a critical role in human disease.”

“We are continuing to look for evidence of the virus in wildlife and domestic animals, and investigating the mechanisms by which the virus causes human disease,” adds Dr. Lipkin. “This is but the first chapter in a powerful collaboration amongst partners committed to global public health.”

In the coming days, the group will be reporting the results of its investigation into the possible presence of MERS in camels, sheep, goats, and cattle.

ScienceDaily: Agriculture and Food News