KARACHI: Pakistan could double its fruit and vegetable exports to Arab Gulf countries that have banned imports from India due to an outbreak of the deadly Nipah virus, said Waheed Ahmed, vice president of the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI), reported Arab News.
On May 30, Kuwait followed the UAE and Bahrain in banning fruit and vegetable imports from India until further notice.
Indian media report that the virus outbreak has so far claimed 18 lives, while nearly 1,945 people are under medical supervision.
“Pakistan already has a presence in Middle Eastern markets, and following the ban on Indian products, exports could double depending on demand and our capacity to meet that demand,” Ahmed told Arab News.
The brain-damaging virus has affected the Indian state of Kerala, from where some 150 tons of fruits and vegetables are exported to Gulf countries daily.
Pakistan has achieved a bumper crop of potatoes, onions and chillies that could easily meet demand, Ahmed said.
“Pakistan already exports large quantities of mangos to Gulf countries. This ban may increase those exports even more,” he added.
As Indian authorities struggle to contain the Nipah outbreak, there are reports of a second one.
The virus was first detected in Malaysia in 1998, in the village from which it takes its name. This is the third outbreak in India. The previous ones occurred in 2001 and 2007.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has included Nipah in its list of diseases most likely to result in a global pandemic, alongside Ebola and Zika.