Egypt plans to cut its state wheat imports this year by around 10 percent, with the world’s largest grain importer relying instead on its domestic crop and building storage, Egypt’s Agriculture minister said on Tuesday. Egypt is the world’s biggest wheat importer, buying about 10 million tonnes a year or around half of its consumption, with purchases shared between state wheat buyer General Authority for Supply Commodities (GASC) and private importers.
But two years of political turmoil and economic crisis since the ousting of autocrat Hosni Mubarak have eroded hard currency reserves at a rate of about $1 billion a month, raising questions about Egypt’s ability to purchase in open tenders. Supply Minister Bassem Ouda was quoted last week as saying he expected US and European exporters to provide “easy terms” as it seeks to replenish falling stocks.
Egypt needs around 9 million tonnes of wheat for its subsidised bread programme, Salah Abdel-Momen told Reuters in an interview on the sidelines of an industry conference in Dubai. Egypt produced 8.4 million tonnes of wheat last year. The US Department of Agriculture and International Grain Council predict it will increase production only marginally to 8.5 million tonnes this year.