Egypt exempt from India’s wheat export ban, minister says

The world's largest wheat importer faces a challenge securing wheat because of the Ukraine war that has inflated already high global prices

Egypt is trying to increase its domestic wheat production as the war in Ukraine has strained international supplies of the grain. The government had agreed to buy half a million tonnes of wheat from India. AP
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Any agreements by the Egyptian government to purchase Indian wheat will not be affected by an export ban announced by New Delhi, Egypt's supply minister said on Sunday.

"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 at a news conference.

Egypt, the world's largest wheat importer, faces a challenge in 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 heatwave 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, Mr Moselhy said in separate comments to Reuters on Sunday.

Egypt's state grains buyer, the General Authority for Supply Commodities, typically purchases wheat through international tenders, but Mr 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.

Mr Moselhy also said Egypt had turned away a ship, which Ukraine's embassy in Cairo had 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," Mr Moselhy said.

Updated: May 16, 2022, 8:15 AM