Egypt issues guidelines on wheat shipments amid inspection concerns

06.11.2017

Egypt’s agriculture ministry has issued a list of guidelines for port inspectors detailing which wheat shipments should be accepted or rejected by the world’s largest buyer, a document seen by Reuters showed.

Egypt is looking to address the concerns of suppliers who have been adding risk premiums of up to $500,000 per cargo because of what they say are inconsistent import rules and erratic inspection procedures.

The guidelines include a provision calling for inspectors to accept wheat shipments that contain non-drug-producing poppy seeds, which in recent months have been the subject of a dispute when two state-purchased cargoes were halted.

Some traders who have complained of uncertainties in selling to Egypt welcomed the move.

“It’s a good step...The picture is now clearer. There was confusion before, and things were vague,” said one Cairo-based trader.

Traders say they expect more guidelines to be circulated soon.

The agriculture ministry was not immediately available for comment.

\The latest guidelines, which do not contain new regulations, state that shipments containing less than 0.05% ergot, a common grain fungus that caused disruptions last year, should be accepted after sieving.

They also say cargoes containing dead insects should be released for immediate sieving rather than being held up at ports, which often leads to high demurrage costs.

Wheat shipments to Egypt have been disrupted in recent months after inspectors were stripped of travel benefits related to inspecting cargoes abroad, part of an inspection system introduced this year after a nearly year long-row over imports.

Traders say government inspectors at Egyptian ports, angered over the loss of the travel benefits, have been applying inconsistent rules in protest and driving up the cost of doing business.

But some inspectors have told Reuters that they were simply upholding quality standards.

People buy bread at a bakery in Cairo. Egypt is looking to address the concerns of wheat suppliers who have been adding risk premiums of up to $500,000 per cargo


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