Egypt has agreed with Vietnam to import 1 million tons of white rice in three to four months after curtailing cultivation earlier this year, the head of the rice division of the Egyptian Federation of Industries said on Thursday.
"The visit of the President of Vietnam to Egypt resulted in a trade cooperation agreement involving the supply of 1 million tons of white rice, with the agreement coming into force next week," Rajab Shehata told Reuters by telephone.
"These quantities are in batches of three to four months, which will strengthen the strategic reserve of rice for the next year and the presence of domestic rice stocks in the markets."
In an attempt to rationalize the use of water resources, Egypt this year reduced the area allowed for rice cultivation and imposed tough new penalties on farmers who cultivate it illegally.
Traders said the policies would most likely push Egypt to import up to 1 million tons of rice next year after decades of surplus domestic production.
"Importation will be the responsibility of the government, not the private sector," Shehata said.
He did not mention the price of Vietnamese rice but said it would be cheaper than the rice imported from China.
Egypt consumes about 3.3 million tons of rice annually, and still expects to cover most of that amount through local harvest, which is usually done in August and September.