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Thursday, 19 October 2017

France gives assurances to send “high quality” wheat, Swiss grain trader sues GASC

France gives assurances it is selling us “high quality” wheat: France’s ambassador to Cairo Stéphane Romatet assured Supply Minister Ali El Moselhy that France is keen to keep participating in Egypt’s wheat tenders and continue providing “high quality” wheat, El Moselhy said on Wednesday. The statements followed a sit-down with the ambassador and representatives of a French wheat market association, according to Al Masry Al Youm. El Moselhy appears to have stressed the need to implement both EU and Egyptian quality control standards on inspections of wheat imports. The statement, which is playing out in the local press as France striking a more conciliatory tone, follows a tussle between Egyptian inspectors and traders from France after a shipment of French wheat was seized for allegedly containing poppy seeds. A separate Romanian shipment was also seized. We noted yesterday that the disruptions have thrown off the market, with traders alleging that inspectors angry at a change in the inspection system.

On a related note, Geneva-based grain trader Grainbow filed a lawsuit against the General Authority General Authority for Supply Commodities (GASC) and the General Company for Storage and Silos at an Egyptian administrative court, Reuters’ Arabic service reports. The firm reportedly demanded a USD 1.2 mn payment from the state buyer over a Russian wheat shipment delivered in early March, according to Ivan Vikoulov, a partner at Gibraltar-based grain trader Quorum Capital Ltd, which works closely with Grainbow. The disagreement started over demurrage fees Grainbow had to pay due to delays in the inspection and processing of the shipment at its destination port, said one of three unnamed sources in Cairo who confirmed the story to the newswire.

In other industry news, US Wheat Associates is closing its office in Egypt after nearly 40 years of operating in the market, Reuters says. The trade group that promotes US exports is scheduled to shut down on 1 December, reflecting the loss of market share for US wheat in the country as Egypt switches to supplies from the Black Sea region and Russia. The move will not impact the local market or the bread subsidy system, since the US Wheat Associates dealt mainly with the private sector, Supply Ministry adviser Mohamed Sewed tells Al Ahram.

This came as GASC launched a tender yesterday to purchase an unspecified amount ofwheat for delivery between 1-10 December, the newswire also notes. The authority is eying supplies from North America and Russia, as well various eastern and western European markets, including France, Germany, Romania, and Poland.

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