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Egypt can still buy Indian wheat despite export ban

Flare, Light, Plant Thomson Reuters/VALENTYN OGIRENKO
A heatwave in India hit wheat stocks hard which drove the price up

Any agreements by Egypt’s government to purchase Indian wheat will not be affected by an export ban announced by New Delhi, Egypt’s supply minister said yesterday.

“For India, we are talking with them on the basis of a government agreement. The ban exempts governments including the government of Egypt,” minister Ali Moselhy said.

Egypt, the world’s largest wheat importer, faces a challenge securing wheat after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine further inflated high global prices and disrupted relatively cheap Black Sea supplies that Egypt had increasingly relied on.

It approved the import of Indian wheat, only for India to ban wheat exports on Saturday as a scorching heat wave curtailed output and domestic prices hit a record high.

However, India said it would still allow exports backed by letters of credit that were already issued, and sales to countries that request supplies “to meet their food security needs”.

Egypt’s government had agreed to buy half a million tonnes of wheat from India, Moselhy said in separate comments to Reuters on Sunday.

Egypt’s state grains buyer, the General Authority for Supply Commodities (GASC), typically purchases wheat through international tenders, but Moselhy told the news conference that the cabinet had approved direct purchases from countries or companies.

Egypt was in talks with India, Australia, Kazakhstan and France for such deals, he said.

Moselhy also said Egypt had turned away a ship which Ukraine’s embassy in Cairo has alleged was carrying wheat from Russian-controlled areas of Ukraine, on the grounds it did not have the proper paperwork.

“There were no shipping documents and there was no request for purchase from any private or government body. We refused its entry to Egyptian ports,” Moselhy said.