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US exports to Saudi
plunged to a 12-year low

Agence France-Presse
August 22, 2002


RIYADH, US exports to Saudi Arabia in the first half of 2002 plunged to a 12-year low, a report said Thursday amid strained relations between the traditional allies almost a year after the September 11 attacks.

The value of reached 2.2 billion dollars on June 30, a drop of 30.5 percent from the same period in 2001, the Foreign Trade Division of the US Census Bureau said in figures released on the internet.

The figure is the lowest for US exports to Saudi Arabia since 1990 -- when Iraqi forces invaded Kuwait, which led to the 1991 Gulf War. Then, first-half exports reached only 1.7 billion dollars.

It is also less than half of an all-time high of five billion dollars in a half year recorded in 1998.

Saudi exports to its main western ally also dropped 24.2 percent to 5.6 billion dollars in the first half from 7.4 billion dollars a year earlier.

The value of the kingdom's exports to the United States reached 13.3 billion dollars last year, of which 12.6 billion dollars, or 95 percent, were oil and gas related products.

The drop in US exports to Saudi Arabia is attributed mainly to a 39 percent decline in exports of machinery and equipment from 2.1 billion dollars in the first half of 2001 to 1.28 billion dollars.

Exports of beverages and tobacco plunged by 55 percent to just 59.6 million dollars from 132.5 million dollars.

A grass-roots campaign to boycott US products in Saudi Arabia was launched in April following what Saudi nationals said was a Washington-backed Israeli military offensive against Palestinians.

The campaign was conducted from mosques, schools and universities, and through newspapers, the internet and mobile phone text messages urging consumers to shun products originating from the United States.

Saudi Arabia has been the United States' main trading partner in the Middle East, with US civilian and military exports valued at 6.2 billion dollars and imports at 14.2 billion dollars in 2000, according to official figures.