Egypt lifts ban on rice exports

Egypt’s Ministry of Trade and Industry has lifted a ban on rice exports due to an expected surplus of the staple and will impose an export tariff of 2,000 Egyptian pounds($255.43) a tonne, it said on Sunday. The ruling will come into effect from the date it is published in the official gazette and remain in place for six months, the ministry said in a statement. It did not give a publication date.

Rice exports were banned on September 1 to satisfy domestic consumption. The agriculture ministry said at the time it expected production of 2.7 million tonnes of white rice in the 2015-2016 season, less than estimated annual consumption of 3.6 million tonnes.

But the banning decision was later cast in doubt after the agriculture minister resigned and was subsequently arrested on corruption charges.

Trade Minister Tarek Kabil said on Sunday figures indicated there would be surplus production this season as well as a surplus carried over from the last season.

Sunday’s statement also said letters of credit would have to be provided for rice sales or a transfer of the full amount of the deal in foreign currency to a bank operating inside Egypt.

Egypt’s agricultural export council said last month the country could export up to one million tonnes.

Egyptian medium grain rice mainly competes with US, Russian and Italian rice on the international market.

Egypt first imposed a ban on exports in 2008 saying it needed to save rice for local consumption and wanted to discourage rice farmers from growing the crop to save water.

Rice exporters have complained that the bans on free exports have led to illicit trading.

Copyright Reuters, 2015


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