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Egypt seeks extra 60,000 T/mth wheat after Russia ban

Hopes Russia will honour signed contracts.

August 6, 2010 9:10 by

Egypt’s main state wheat buyer said on Thursday he would seek an additional 60,000 tonnes of wheat per month to make up for any shortfall after Moscow said it was temporarily banning grain exports.

Egypt is the world’s largest wheat importer and the government has signed contracts for the purchase of 540,000 tonnes of wheat from Russia for delivery between Aug. 1 and Sept. 10.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who announced the ban on Thursday, is seeking to keep inflation in check after the worst heatwave on record ravaged crops.

Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the ban would become effective from Aug. 15 and apply to contracts already signed. News of the ban sent wheat prices to contract highs.

“I will seek 60,000 tonnes every month in addition to my needs,” said Nomani Nomani, chairman of Egypt’s General Authority for Supply Commodities (GASC). “These 60,000, I will distribute them over several months.”

“Just because the situation is pressing doesn’t mean my inventory has dropped and I have to immediately buy,” he added. “We have inventory for crisis situations.”

Nomani had said he hoped Russia would honour existing wheat contracts.

“If a decision is issued and it is an official decision the Russian government has to … allow (buyers) to implement the contracts that have been completed, then ban any other contracts after Aug. 15,”

“The Russian government has the right to take any decision that suits it,” Nomani said by telephone.

Nomani said he was not sure how much of the wheat on order would be affected should the decision be applied fully.

“I’m still making an inventory of the quantities that have been contracted for … and what’s been shipped of it,” Nomani said.

“There is a meeting with the (Egyptian trade) minister to study this situation,” Nomani said.

Nomani said a shipment of Russian wheat from Valars for Aug. 1-10 was in a Russian port and had already been loaded onto a vessel.

“The 60,000 tonnes are within the shipping period before the ban period. It arrived in Russian ports and the window should be opened for it to ship (to Egypt).”

He added that Egypt had more than four months’ wheat supply for the local market, but that GASC was “continuously present” in the international market.

Egyptians traditionally increase their consumption of wheat during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which begins next week.

(Reporting by Shaimaa Fayed, Editing by Patrick Werr and Anthony Barker)

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