Egypt says strategic stock of wheat safe despite Russian export ban

13:43, August 09, 2010      

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Egypt said on Sunday that its strategic stock of wheat is safe and covers four-month needs despite a Russian export ban.

Following a meeting with senior officials to discuss the impact of Russia's decision to ban grain exports, Egyptian Minister of Trade and Industry Rashid Mohamed Rashid said there is nothing to worry about after the Russian ban as there are other wheat markets in many other countries including the United States, Australia and Argentina.

The meeting has also tackled the legal situation regarding previously-signed contracts with Russia in this respect, state-run MENA news agency reported.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin announced Thursday that his country would impose a temporary ban on grain exports due to hot weather and drought, driving the benchmark wheat futures to a 23-month high in global markets.

Egypt is the world's largest wheat importer. Egypt's General Authority for Supply Commodities (GASC) currently purchases an average of 8 million tons of wheat annually for the production of subsidized bread.

An average of two to three million tons are purchased from domestic market while five to six million are imported from abroad, a statement by the Ministry of Trade and Industry said.

Egyptian Minister of Social Solidarity Ali el-Mesilhi also said Saturday that Egypt had diverse sources for wheat, predicting that the surprise surge in global wheat prices would not lead to an increase in the prices of heavily subsidised bread in Egypt.

Rashid met with the Russian charge d'affaires in Cairo and handed him a message to the Russian minister of trade on amending the contracts signed by GASC and Russian companies ahead of the exportation ban.

In the fiscal year 2009-2010, which ended in June, Russia was the biggest wheat exporter to Egypt with a 59 percent share of the latter's imports. France ranked the second with 27 percent and the United States the third with seven percent. The rest are purchased from other trade partners.

Source: Xinhua


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