A dispute between the Egyptian government’s wheat buyer and the American grain exporter CHS Inc. over a 60,000 tonne wheat shipment did not just stem from the cargoes’ descriptions, but also from its country of origin.
The General Authority for Supply Commodity (GASC) rejected the Canadian wheat shipment sold by US-based wheat exporter for having higher than the agreed-on levels of ambrosia seeds. It was reported that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) officials in Cairo later stepped in to resolve the issue.
Director of the Wheat and Flour Department at GASC Sameh Sayed explained that the shipment violated the criteria set, as the shipment received was Canadian and not American.
He added that “the USDA did not interfere to fix the problem.”
“The shipment we received from America was inspected like any other shipment to ensure it met our standard qualifications, but it did not,” Sayed said.
“It’s true that we did find ambrosia seeds, but our major concern was that the wheat we received was coming from Canada and not America as requested, which made us suspicious of the whole deal,” he explained. He added that the matter was resolved after the “issue was addressed legally and another shipment was received.’’
This is considered Egypt’s first wheat shipment since February, when 400,000 tonnes of wheat were imported from the US, France and Romania to cover the first six months of 2013.
Since then, Egypt, the world’s biggest wheat importer, had to cut down on imports of the grain from an annual 10 million tonnes to 4-5 million tones, due to lack of foreign currency reserves, while raising dependency on local harvest.
Egypt’s foreign currency reserves reached $16.04bn in May, a noticeable increase compared to a low of $13.4bn in March, which was sufficient to cover only three months worth of imports.
Despite the USDA’s forecasts in April that Egypt’s wheat stocks would plunge below 1 million tonnes by 30 June, GASC said last week that there is at least five months’ worth of wheat stocks to last until the end of the year. Wheat exporter Hesham Abul Dahab said, “With the falling foreign currency reserves, the plan is to depend more on the country’s local production; that’s the only way to cope with the situation.”