Benefiting Commercially from Untapped Plant Natural Resources: Caper as a Case study

Caper spreads widely in the MENA countries, particularly in Syria. About 60 countries trade capers, and the annual growth rate of caper trade is about 6%. Major exporting countries are Turkey, Lebanon, Morocco, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Syria. The price of I Kg caper ready for consumption is about US$ 25 in the USA markets. Syria’s production of caper in 2006 was estimated at 4,000 tons, and formal statistics show that Syria had exported different amounts of caper products before 2007. Caper exportation was oriented towards “preserved-temporarily”, a form that is not suitable for immediate consumption. The relative unite value (RUV) for each product is calculated as the average value of Syrian export unit divided on the average value of international export unit. The reference point or the average of RUV is 1, and if the index reached 1.15 or above, this would mean high level of quality competitiveness. Using the ITC (International Trade Center) database, we found that RUV for Syrian exports of caper preserved temporarily had increased, thus exceeding 1 even during the years of war imposed on Syria. On the other hand, the revealed comparative advantage (RCA) index shows whether the performance of a given exported commodity is higher than other exported commodities in terms of its share in international markets. Thus, if a commodity has a good share in international markets – to be divided on the share of the total Syrian exports in international markets, it can be considered that it has comparative advantage. Applying this index on Syrian caper’s exports of the ITC database, we find that the Syrian caper has a very good comparative advantage. The above findings emphasize the importance of caper, and the urgent need to benefit from it commercially. However, the big gap between the export unit value of caper preserved temporarily and caper ready for consumption must not be ignored; this gap reaches US$ 25 – US$ 45, which highlights the urgent need to export caper as a final product rather than preserved temporarily, thus benefiting from the added value of the processing stages.

Issue Date:
May 01 2015
Publication Type:
Working or Discussion Paper
PURL Identifier:
Total Pages:
Series Statement:
working papers

 Record created 2017-04-01, last modified 2017-04-26

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