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

Lion Cecil's Killing Sparks 'Canned Hunting' Debate in S. Africa

Conservationists believe incident, which triggered worldwide outrage, will reshape debate about practice in which hunters are allowed to target animals bred for hunting More

Taliban's New Leader Says Jihad Will Continue

Top US Afghan diplomat also meets with Pakistani, Afghan officials following news of Mullah Omar's death More

Environmentalists Issue Warning on Mekong Biodiversity

Scientists say decades of economic development, hydropower-dam construction, lax law enforcement and trafficking have taken their toll More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missionsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
July 30, 2015 8:59 PM
Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.

VOA Blogs