Egypt to import wheat from Serbia, Romania

Habiba Hamdy , Wednesday 8 Feb 2023

Egypt has reached an agreement to import wheat from Serbia and Romania through the port of Constanta, and is conducting discussions with the European Investment Bank (EIB) on financing the construction of a large field silo in Damietta's port, a statement by the Egyptian Supply and Internal Trade said on Wednesday.

Egyptian Minister of Supply (left) meets with former Serbian President Boris Tadić

The agreement was announced following a meeting held in Cairo on Wednesday between Minister of Supply and Internal Trade Ali Moselhy and a delegation from Serbia headed by former Serbian President Boris Tadic.

Serbia is a landlocked country in South East Europe.

According to the statement, Moselhy discussed with Tadic importing nearly 1 million tons of Serbian wheat which will be shipped from the Romanian port of Constanta to the Egyptian ports of Alexandria and Damietta.

The discussions with the Serbian side also tackled supplying Egypt's needs of corn to meet the needs of poultry breeders, the statement noted.

Tadic’s visit and agreement come as a culmination of President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi’s visit to Serbia in July, said Moselhy.

The agreement also comes three days after Romanian Prime Minister Nicolae Ciuca’s visit to Cairo.

"We [Romania] will exert our utmost efforts to avoid a food crisis, and we will seize every opportunity to secure all Egyptian needs and make up for any shortages," the Romanian premier said in a joint news briefing with his Egyptian counterpart on Monday.

Wednesday’s announcement should be seen within the context of Egypt's attempts to diversify the sources of the country's wheat imports in light of the shortage in wheat since the outbreak of the Russian-Ukrainian war.

Before the conflict, 80 percent of Egypt's imported wheat came from both Russia and Ukraine. 

Egypt needs to import five million tons of wheat during the fiscal year 2022/23, according to a previous statement by Moselhy.

Discussions to finance a large silo in Damietta

In a separate meeting on the same day, Moselhy discussed with the EIB delegation, headed by bank official Lionel Raphael, the construction of a large silo in Damietta's port with a storage capacity of 200,000 tons.

The discussions also touched upon constructing 5 other field silos in Sharkia, Kafr El-Sheikh, Dakahlia, Minya and New Valley with a capacity of 5,000 tons each, according to the statement.

The silos will contribute to increasing the storage capacity of wheat in both mainland and port silos once the necessary financing procedures have been undertaken, asserted Moselhy.

The locations for the planned field silos came after intensive studies of the areas that are highest in wheat production; the silos' proximity to these areas would save farmers' time , said CEO and Managing Director of  Egyptian Holding Company for Silos and Storage (EHCSS) Sherif Basili.

In recent years, Egypt launched a national project to secure stockpiles of  strategic foods through the construction of nearly 50 silos distributed over 17 governorates, with a storage capacity reaching nearly 1.5 million tons.

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