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Increase has been rapid in Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Pakistan.

In 2001 the top five date producing countries (Table 14) were Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia Pakistan and Iraq, accounting for about 69 percent of total production.

If the next five most important countries are included, i.e.

It is interesting to note that exports from Iran increased from 13 000 tonnes in 1989 to 120 000 tonnes in 1994, partly compensating Iraq's reduced exports. 23 shows that the UAE is the leading exporting country in terms of gross exports. Their price of US$1 700 and 1 400 per tonne respectively in 2000, is due to their strategy of targeting the high value European markets while Iran, which exports much lower quality dates, only achieved US$240 per tonne in 2000.

However, if imports are deducted from gross exports, the five leading net exporting countries since 1991 have been: Iran, Pakistan, Tunisia, Algeria and Saudi Arabia. Figure 23 shows clearly the dominance of the UAE and Iran in the export market regarding volumes.

These high prices are achieved by growing varieties such TABLE 15Export prices achieved by leading exporting countries Source: FAOSTATIt is interesting to note the price that France achieves on its re-exports mainly to other European countries.

France's strategy is to import good quality fruit in bulk and then repack in Marseilles into "glove boxes" for the higher income market.

The world production of dates has increased from about 1.8 million tonnes in 1961 to 2.8 million in 1985 and 5.4 million in 2001 (Figure 20).

The increase of 2.6 million tonnes since 1985 represents an annual expansion of about 5 percent.

This is a clear reflection of North Africa's strategy to target the high value markets of Europe.

Asia on the other hand is exporting lower quality dates at much lower prices, mainly to India.

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