Egypt turns to 4 countries, namely France, Argentina, India and the United States, to offset its imports of Russian and Ukrainian wheat.
On Monday, Egyptian Prime Minister Mustafa Madbouly said Egypt relies on France to meet its wheat needs if the Russo-Ukrainian war drags on.
Madbouly added: “Egypt is counting on its strategic relations with France to secure some supplies of basic goods such as wheat, if the crisis drags on,” according to Reuters.
Egypt is the world’s largest buyer of wheat and relies on Russia and Ukraine to meet its needs, according to a report this month from the US Department of Agriculture.
Egypt is seeking alternatives to grain exports from the Black Sea, which have been affected by the Russian military operation in Ukraine.
French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire had said during an official visit to Cairo on Monday that France would ensure Egypt met its wheat needs in the coming months.
“We will support Egypt to ensure that it gets the wheat it needs in the coming months,” Le Maire added.
Conversations with Argentina, India and America
And last Thursday, Egypt’s Supply Minister Ali Al-Moselhi said his country is in talks with France, Argentina, India and the United States about future wheat imports, explaining that he is in no rush to buy at the moment. .
Al-Moselhi stated that there is no need to issue tenders at this time, but the government is planning for the whole year, “so we are open to all possibilities and are preparing backup plans.”
He added that Egypt could start offering tenders again in the middle of the harvest season, which usually starts in April and ends in July or August each year.
The Egyptian government also raised its targets for the amount of wheat it plans to collect from farmers this year, saying it would start the wheat receiving season early next month and earmarking around 36 billion pounds to buy wheat.
The government has also raised prices for farmers’ wheat imports this year, ranging from 865 to 885 pounds, depending on how clean the wheat is.
The Egyptian government aims to buy 6 million tons of the local wheat crop this year.
The minister said that the government has already held talks with the United States and France, and will meet with representatives of Argentina next week.
For its part, India’s Commerce Ministry said it is in final talks to start exporting wheat to Egypt.
Indian suppliers still have to apply for accreditation from the General Authority for the Supply of Commodities (GASC), the state grain buyer in Egypt.
Last month, Egypt decided to cancel two General Authority for the Supply of Commodities tenders due to a lack of participants and high bid prices.
Egypt has a wheat reserve of up to 4 months, and the local supply season is expected to increase this reserve to more than that.
Find an alternative
Timothy Kaldas, political fellow at the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy, said in a report to the German network “Deutsche Welle” that Egypt has enough wheat to cover its needs until the end of this year, but has yet to find an alternative solution to wheat imports from Ukraine and Russia.
Caldas added that importing wheat is necessary for Egypt, and the government will work to raise more money and find alternative sources, such as India or the United States.
The government set a fixed price for unsubsidized bread this week, after prices rose 25% to 1.25 Egyptian pounds ($0.07) a loaf at some bakeries.
Meal prices also reached high levels, reaching 11,000 Egyptian pounds ($602.70) a tonne in the weeks after the start of the war.
Egypt’s Supply Ministry said it will start supplying flour to private-sector mills at a price of 8,600 pounds ($471.23) per tonne, and impose penalties on offenders for selling at fixed prices.
Expectations of a decrease in wheat imports from Egypt
A US Department of Agriculture report on Monday forecast that Egypt’s wheat imports would decline this season, which ends next June, as a result of high prices and reduced supplies from Russia and Ukraine due to to the war.
The US Department of Agriculture’s monthly report on grains said about 80% of Egypt’s wheat imports in the first half of the current season came from Russia and Ukraine, including imports from the private sector, which It represents approximately half of the total imported. amounts of wheat.
The report expected Egypt’s imported wheat quantities to decline by 551,000 tonnes to 13.7 million tonnes during the current season, which started last July and ends next June.
Ukraine may resume exports
For his part, Ukraine’s Economy Minister Taras Kachka told the Bloomberg News Agency on Monday that his country could ease restrictions on wheat exports as soon as next month, once it is confident that the season spring farming is going well despite the Russian invasion. according to the country’s trade official
He added that export capacity is still strained, with some ports effectively closed due to the fighting.
The government introduced new license conditions for exporters this month to limit exports of Ukraine’s key agricultural products, including wheat, corn, sunflower oil, poultry and eggs, following the start of the Russian military operation in Ukraine.
However, restrictions on corn and sunflower oil were lifted last week as Ukraine has sufficient stocks and farmers need foreign exchange to continue their operations.
“Hopefully we can resume exports of wheat as well. The planting process has started, it will be as good as possible, and once we see the future of this year’s crop, and what our local stocks are, we will take stock in balance.” . decision,” Kachka said.