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

New England Bears Brunt of US Blizzard

Boston, surrounding region grapple with as much as 3 feet of snow, coastal flooding; leaders in New York, spared most severe weather, criticized for being overly cautious More

China Lifts Lid on Sale of Fake Goods Online

A recent survey found nearly 60 percent of a random sample of items bought from Taobao were fake More

Upward Aims to Create Old-girls Network in Silicon Valley

Lisa Lambert, an executive with Intel Corp.'s venture-capital unit, responds to the gender-disparity debate by creating a new social organization More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visiti
X
Aru Pande
January 26, 2015 9:33 PM
U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video US, EU Threaten New Russia Sanctions Over Ukraine

U.S. President Barack Obama has blamed Russia for an attack by Ukrainian separatists that left dozens dead in the port of Mariupol and cast further doubt on the viability of last year’s cease-fire with the Kyiv government. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Kerry Warns Against Violence in Nigeria Election

US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Nigeria Sunday in a show of the level of concern within the U.S. and the international community over next month’s presidential election. Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Saudi, Yemen Developments Are Sudden Complications for Obama

The death of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and the collapse of Yemen’s government have cast further uncertainty on U.S. efforts to fight militants in the Middle East and also contain Iran’s influence in the region. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports on the new complications facing the Obama administration and its Middle East policy.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid