Egypt hikes rice export duty
Cairo, March 8, 2008
Egypt has raised the export duty on rice to 300 Egyptian pounds ($54.84) a tonne, from 200 pounds, the state news agency Mena said on Saturday.
Egypt introduced the duty last September to ensure supplies of rice to the local market and hold down domestic prices. Mena said trade and industry minister Rachid Mohamed Rachid had increased the duty in response to higher world prices.
The government justifies the duty by saying that rice exports indirectly export water, which is a scarce resource subsidised by the government. Egypt produces about 4 million tonnes of milled rice a year and consumes about 3.2 million tonnes. It exports its own short-grain rice, mainly to other Arab countries, and imports some long-grain rice from Asia.
The retail price of local rice has risen by up to 30 per cent in recent months, along with sharp rises in the prices of other staple foodstuffs. The government tried to persuade rice dealers to impose their own voluntary restrictions on exports but the prices on offer abroad were too high to resist, said an expert familiar with the rice trade.-Reuters