CAIRO, March 29 Egypt will not ban the private
sector from importing wheat while it buys up the local harvest,
the supply ministry said on Wednesday, appearing to backtrack on
what its minister said earlier this week.
Instead of a blanket ban on private sector imports during
the local procurement season, the ministry will instead closely
monitor the movement of grain, a ministry spokesman said.
"The wheat will be carefully tracked from the ports but it
is not a ban," he said.
Egypt has been tightening up on its policing of the wheat
market in an effort to prevent fraud.
More than 2 million of Egypt's 5 million tonnes of wheat
bought by the government last year may have existed only on
paper, according to grain industry experts and lawmakers who
investigated the matter.
Egypt said earlier this week that state grain buyer, the
General Authority for Supply Commodities (GASC), would continue
to import wheat from abroad during its local buying season, set
to run from April 15 to July 15, in an effort to increase its
But Supply Minister Ali Moselhy said that private sector
imports would be banned during this period, leading confused
traders to question how such a ban could be implemented and
vexing private millers who wondered how they would get grain.
Moselhy has said that Egypt expects to buy about 4.5 million
tonnes of wheat from local farmers this year.
In previous years GASC has typically slowed or stopped
completely the tendering of foreign supplies during the local
GASC however has been making larger than usual purchases
from foreign grain suppliers in recent months amid high demand
for state-subsidised bread.
Its season total of 5.6 million tonnes of contracted wheat
for 2016-17 is nearly 25 percent up on the previous year.
(Reporting by Maha El Dahan; Writing by Eric Knecht; Editing by