Saudi Arabia bans import of Lebanese fruits, vegetables over drug smuggling concerns

Saudi Arabia has announced a ban on the import of Lebanese fruits and vegetable over drug smuggling concerns, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Friday.

The ban will come into force on Sunday (March 25) and will apply to produce that originates from Lebanon or has transited through the country, according to the report.

Saudi Arabia has noticed an increase in drug smugglers in Lebanon targeting Saudi Arabia, the report citing a statement from the Ministry of Interior.

Lebanese products are being used to smuggle drugs into the Kingdom’s territory, either through consignments intended for Saudi markets or those that transit through the Kingdom on their way to neighboring countries. The most common products used to smuggle the drugs were fruits and vegetables, the report added.

The ban will last until Lebanese authorities provide guarantees that they will take the necessary measures to stop systematic drug smuggling operations.

The Ministry of Interior will continue to follow up and monitor consignments of other products coming from Lebanon to see whether similar measures needed to be taken against them.

Commenting on the move, Lebanon’s caretaker Agriculture Minister Abbas Mortada said that Saudi Arabia’s ban on his country’s fruit and vegetable exports was a “great loss” as the trade was worth $24 million a year, Reuters reported.

“The issue is very serious especially if it negatively affects the rest of the Gulf states that could take similar or stringent measures,” Mortada was quoted as saying. (SG).

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