News / Europe

Russia Urges Discussion on Providing Wheat Aid to Egypt

A tractor sorts through grain at a warehouse near the village of Moskovskoye, outside Stavropol in southern Russia, June 26, 2013.
A tractor sorts through grain at a warehouse near the village of Moskovskoye, outside Stavropol in southern Russia, June 26, 2013.
Reuters
Russia's Agriculture Ministry offered to hold discussions on possible humanitarian deliveries of wheat to Egypt, a reversal of policy that Egyptian officials and traders interpreted as a sign of political support.

Egypt, the world's biggest wheat importer, has less than two months' supply of imported wheat left in its stocks, ousted President Mohamed Morsi's minister of supplies said last week.

“We need to discuss questions related to humanitarian aid deliveries to Egypt with the world community... There have been no requests [from Egypt] yet,” Russia's Deputy Agriculture Minister Ilya Shestakov told a news briefing in Moscow on Monday.

Shestakov's remark appeared to be a reversal of policy since Russia rejected a request from former president Morsi in April when he visited Moscow for help securing supplies of vital commodities on concessionary terms.

Officials and traders in Egypt saw the proposal as a political statement to help support Egypt at a time that a military-backed interim government is taking over.

“Politics has entered into economics here,” a source in Egyptian government said.

“The previous government, before the mass protests of June 30 and the events that followed, had tried to get some kind of wheat aid from Russia but was refused, and now that the situation has changed, this is a political statement more than anything,” he added.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the Egyptian government source said Egypt, meanwhile, was not in urgent need of wheat aid after receiving financial help from Gulf countries.

Since the army ousted Morsi last week, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait have promised $12 billion in cash, loans and fuel, which economists say buys Cairo several months to fix its finances.

Abdolreza Abbassian, a senior FAO economist said, “We do not see any urgent disruption in the food chain as a result of the domestic political problem for the time being.”

Big commercial supplier

Even so, a Cairo-based trader said that from the market point of view, if Russia supplies wheat aid for free or as a long-term financing, Egypt will definitely accept it.

“Right now economically, with the money from the Gulf, Egypt is in a better position compared with two weeks ago,” the trader added.

The idea that Russia could send wheat as humanitarian aid came as a surprise also because of Russia's status as a big commercial supplier to Egypt and the fact that its own wheat stocks are low after last year's drought.

“It wouldn't make much sense really, because the wheat trade is in the hands of the private sector rather than the government, unless they have some old crop wheat that they would like to give as aid when they are cleaning up their silos,” a second Cairo-based trader said.

As of last week, Egypt, which usually imports about 10 million tons a year, with Russia as a major supplier, had just 500,000 tons of imported wheat left. The government's total stocks including wheat from the domestic crop amounted to about 3.5 million tons.

Earlier this month, Egypt bought 180,000 tons from Romania and Ukraine on the international market on commercial terms for delivery in early August.

Grain traders expect Egypt's state grain buyer, the General Authority for Supply Commodities (GASC) to issue a new tender to purchase wheat soon, although GASC's vice chairman said last week that high prices and availability of stocks made that unlikely.

The Russian government, meanwhile, plans to start buying grain on the domestic market to replenish state stocks after the end of harvesting campaign in late September or October, Shestakov said. Officials said previously that Russia might buy 6 million tons of grain for its stocks this year.

Taking into account state restocking campaign and low carryover stocks, Russia's supply and demand balance of grain will be tight this 2013/14 marketing year, which started on July 1, Shestakov said.

He kept the ministry's 2013 grain crop forecast unchanged at 95 million tons and said that from this amount 71 million tons would be used to cover domestic demand. He pegged the 2013/14 exportable grain surplus at 20 million tons.

You May Like

Australia-Cambodia Resettlement Agreement Raises Concerns

Agreement calls for Cambodia to accept refugees in return for $35 million in aid and reflects Australia’s harder line approach towards asylum seekers and refugees More

India Looks to Become Arms Supplier Instead of Buyer

US hopes India can become alternative to China for countries looking to buy weapons, but experts question growth potential of Indian arms industry More

Earth Day Concert, Rally Draws Thousands in Washington

President Obama also took up the issue Saturday in his weekly address, saying there 'no greater threat to our planet than climate change' More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?i
X
Steve Sandford
April 17, 2015 12:50 AM
Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Sierra Leone President Koroma Bemoans Ebola Impact on Economy

In an interview with VOA's Shaka Ssali on Wednesday, President Ernest Koroma said the outbreak undermined his government’s efforts to boost and restructure the economy after years of civil war.
Video

Video Protester Lands Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn

A 61-year-old mailman from Florida landed a small aircraft on the Capitol lawn in Washington to bring attention to campaign finance reform and what he says is government corruption. Wednesday's incident was one in a string of security breaches on U.S. government property. Zlatica Hoke reports the gyrocopter landing violated a no-fly zone.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.
Video

Video Sidemen to Famous Blues Artists Record Their Own CD

Legendary blues singer BB King was briefly hospitalized last week and the 87-year-old “King of the Blues” may not be touring much anymore. But some of the musicians who have played with him and other blues legends have now released their own CD in an attempt to pass the torch to younger fans... and put their own talents out front as well. VOA’s Greg Flakus has followed this project over the past year and filed this report from Houston.
Video

Video Iran-Saudi Rivalry Is Stoking Conflict in Yemen

Iran has proposed a peace plan to end the conflict in Yemen, but the idea has received little support from regional rivals like Saudi Arabia. They accuse Tehran of backing the Houthi rebels, who have forced Yemen’s president to flee to Riyadh, and have taken over swaths of Yemen. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, analysts say the conflict is being fueled by the Sunni-Shia rivalry between the two regional powers.

VOA Blogs