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Egypt's deal for Indian wheat stands: minister

A worker sifts wheat before filling in sacks at a market yard on the outskirts of Ahmedabad
A worker sifts wheat before filling in sacks at a market yard on the outskirts of Ahmedabad

CAIRO: Egypt's supply minister said on Monday that an agreement to buy wheat from India still stood despite recent curbs on Indian exports, although it is unclear when the grain will be shipped.

Egypt, one of the world's biggest wheat importers, has sought to diversify its suppliers since facing higher global prices and disruptions to purchases from the Black Sea after Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February.

Supply Minister Aly Moselhy said in June that Egypt had contracted to buy 180,000 tonnes of wheat from India, after initially agreeing to purchase 500,000 tonnes.

"We have an agreement on quantity and price - 180,000 tonnes of wheat, and price was $400 per tonne," Moselhy told reporters on Monday, disclosing the price for the first time. The wheat had not yet left India, he added however.

India, the world's second biggest producer of wheat, banned private overseas sales of the grain on May 14, but made allowances for countries like Egypt with food security needs.

A scorching heatwave has curtailed India's output this year.

"You know about the strong heatwave that happened in India and that affected next year's harvest, so it's natural that they would want to keep their own supply. It's their right," said Moselhy. "But to be honest our cargo is at the port."

In an effort to boost its strategic wheat reserves, Egypt's government has bought around 1.8 million tonnes of wheat since the start of the current fiscal year, Moselhy said, making big purchases from countries including France and Russia since the Indian deal was announced.

Moselhy said Egypt's strategic wheat reserves currently stand at around seven months.

ARAB SUMMIT: Meanwhile, Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al Sisi is to host a five-nation Arab summit on Monday with the Ukraine war-related energy and food crisis on the agenda, a government newspaper said.

Sisi, Emirati President Mohamed bin Zayed al Nahyan, Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al Kadhemi and the kings of Jordan and Bahrain, Abdullah II and Hamad, respectively, are to meet in El Alamein, northwest of Cairo on the Mediterranean coast, Al Ahram said.

Al Ahram, which cited a diplomatic source, said the dispute pitting Egypt and Sudan against Ethiopia over its Renaissance Dam on the Nile would also be up for discussion, as well as the conflicts in Yemen, Syria and Libya, and the latest Israel-Gaza round of fighting earlier this month. - AFP

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