By Massoud Derhally
US exports to Saudi Arabia plunged 30.5% in the first six months of 2002 from the same period a year earlier, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Foreign Trade Division in Washington, D.C.
US exports to Saudi Arabia plunged 30.5% in the first six months of 2002 from the same period a year earlier, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Foreign Trade Division in Washington, D.C. Saudi Arabia imported US $2.2 billion worth of American products in the first half of 2002, a decline of US $974 million from the first half of 2001 and the most significant drop from a high of US $5 billion in exports in 1998.US exports to the Kingdom for the first half of 2002 compared to figures for the first half of 1992 show a 44% decline.Since the Israeli offensive against the Palestinians on March 29, a grassroots campaign to boycott American products has gathered momentum across a wide demographic and economic spectrum. Protesting against what many see as America’s overwhelming support for Israel, the boycott campaign has grown through a variety of communication networks including: mosques, the media and press, the internet, and text messaging through mobile phones.Those feeling the most pressure are American fast food chains, beverage and tobacco companies.Figures for the first quarter of 2002 compared to the same period a year earlier, show a rise of 20 percent in Japanese exports to Saudi Arabia, increasing from US $731 million to US $877 million, according to Reuters. While reports from the French Embassy in Riyadh show French exports have also increased, to 533 million euros for the first four months of 2002, up 12.9 percent from the same period a year ago. British exports rose to 339.6 million pounds during the first four months of 2002, a 12 percent increase from a year earlier, according to a commercial officer at the British Embassy. German exports for the first quarter of 2002 rose to 779 million euros, an increase of 12.65 percent from the previous year, according to Oliver Parche at the German Saudi Arabian Liaison Office for Economic Affairs in Riyadh.Saudi exports to the US also dropped to US $5.6 billion for the first half of 2002 from US 7.4 billion first half of 2001, a decline of 24.2%. Lower oil prices and a reduction in OPEC output could certainly explain why Saudi export figures to the US show a 24.2% decline for the six months of 2002. As of May 2002, Mexico replaced Saudi Arabia to become the principal supplier of crude oil to the United States, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.