Egypt cautious on Russia wheat
Cairo, May 31, 2011
Egypt, the world's biggest wheat importer, said it welcomed the lifting of a Russian grain export ban but would exercise caution in its purchases.
Nomani Nomani, vice chairman of the General Authority for Supply Commodities (GASC), told Reuters that GASC had sufficient funds to finance wheat purchases in international tenders and that economic problems following an uprising that ousted former President Hosni Mubarak have not affected its budget.
Russia, formerly the world's third-largest wheat exporter, plans to lift its grain export ban from July 1, imposed since last August after the worst drought in over a century devastated crops.
'Russia will return once again but it will be dealt with cautiously,' Nomani said in an interview. 'We have to make sure they are capable of exporting.'
'Russia is the closest exporter (in proximity) to the Middle East, so in the landed costs, Russian wheat is the most competitive,' he said.
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said on Saturday his government would monitor the situation and ensure domestic farmers were given proper support to cope with the lifting of the ban. He gave no specifics.
'Putin said (Russia) will begin exporting and 'monitor'' Nomani said. 'Does that mean there could be a new decision to ban its (wheat) exports?' He added that he was seeking more clarity on the situation.
'We do not want to fall into the same problem we fell into last year,' he said. Egypt was forced to scramble to replace more than 500,000 tonnes of Russian wheat purchases when Moscow imposed the ban. - Reuters