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Prior import license required for milk
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The Cabinet agreed to the Ministry of Agriculture’s request to prohibit milk and white cheese from being imported without prior license.

This decision aims to decrease the amounts imported per year, as well as to impose Customs fees on imported dairy products. According to Hassan Jaroudy, Chairman of Lebanese Shipping Agencies Syndicate, the Ministry began implementing the decision a month ago, but no licenses have yet been granted.

In 2014, around 3,700 tons of Ultra High Temperature (UHT) milk, valued at of $3.5 million was imported mainly from Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, earning a 40 percent market share.

Sami Merhi, Sales Manager of Dairy Khoury said that local producers are able to fulfill market needs especially in February, March, April, and May, when there is an oversupply in milk production. Local milk producers can provide up to 2,600 tons monthly. He said that importers should be given import licenses, seasonally, to supply the local market only when there is need.

Merhi said that the price of one kilogram of imported UHT milk costs $0.30, while locally produced milk reaches $0.67, and this is keeping producers from competing. The price of one kilogram of imported white cheese is sold to the end customers at $4, while it costs local producers $7.

Milk producers proposed imposing a 70 percent Customs fee on UHT milk, and Value Added Tax (VAT) on cheese.

Jaroudy said that local producers are harmed from illegally imported milk from Syria, more than from the UHT milk that comes from Saudi Arabia and Turkey. “This license will not ban the entrance of illegal milk, and it will not bring the required results,” he said.

“The decision will leave a negative impact on milk importers, and will lead to loosing the agencies they hold.
Reported by Rania Ghanem
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Date Posted: Apr 29, 2015