Syria buys Russian wheat, seeks more after poor crop output


Syria’s state grain agency is seeking to buy 400,000 tonnes of milling wheat in two separate tenders after buying 200,000 tonnes of Russian wheat in January, sources said on Tuesday.

Syria is projected to import around 1.5 million tonnes of wheat as this year’s crop was the smallest in three decades after war and drought cut its production by around 30 percent.

The fall in output has put President Bashar al-Assad’s government under increasing pressure to import wheat and Syria’s General Establishment for Cereal Processing and Trade (Hoboob) bought 200,000 tonnes of Russian wheat at an average price of $270 a tonne cost and freight (C&F) in January.

“The new tenders shows the demand is present in the country. The civil war has damaged Syrian agriculture seriously and imports appear to be needed on a large scale,” one European trader said.

Syria’s wheat output of 1.2 million tonnes in 2018 was the lowest since 1989 and compared with a pre-crisis average of 4.1 million tonnes a year, when it was able to export 1.5 million tonnes in a good year.

Although foodstuffs are not restricted by Western sanctions, banking sanctions and asset freezes have made it difficult for most trading houses to do business with Syria although trade with ally Russia poses fewer problems.

“If the tenders are successful they may encourage more mainstream traders back in,” the trader said.


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