A file photo for harvest in Egypt (Photo:Reuters)
Egypt will send a technical delegation to Russia at the end of September from the ministries of trade and agriculture to discuss the temporary ban by Russia on the import of Egyptian agricultural products, Egypt's Minister of Trade and Industry Tarek Kabil announced Saturday night after meeting with the Russian ambassador to Cairo.
Kabil met with Russian ambassador Sergei Kirpichenko to discuss the implications of the ban put in place by Russian state agricultural safety agency Rosselkhoznadzor.
Last week, Rosselkhoznadzor announced that the imports of Egyptian agricultural products would be banned starting Thursday until Egyptian authorities take steps to ensure their safety.
The Russian decision comes after Egypt changed its import regulations to state that the country would no longer accept any amount of ergot – a toxic fungus – in its imported wheat, a decision that will hurt Russia, Egypt's number one wheat supplier. In the past, Egypt accepted imported wheat with a maximum of 0.05 percent ergot fungus.
After the meeting with Kirpichenko, Kabil issued a statement stressing that an increase was recently achieved in the export of Egyptian agricultural products, not only in the Russian market but in other foreign markets.
"It is important to find an urgent solution... as the new export season will start in November, especially for citrus, which reached 400,000 tonnes in the previous season," the Egyptian trade minister said in his statement, adding that citrus makes up 30 percent of Egyptian agricultural products exported to Russia.
According to Kabil, Egyptian agricultural exports to Russian are valued at $350 million annually.
Vegetables and fruits are the number one export to Russia from Egypt, with exports increasing in 2015/2016 following Russian restrictions on Turkish imports.
Egypt is considered the world's largest wheat importer, with wheat imports in 2016/2017 estimated at 11.5 million tonnes, according to the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation.
According to an official Egyptian report issued in July, Egypt has imported from Russia 2,152,000 tonnes of wheat in the first six months of 2016.