Egypt hires Swiss firm to inspect imported wheat shipments

Ahram Online , Tuesday 27 Sep 2016

File photo: Hassan, a 65 year-old farmer harvests wheat on field in Fayoum, Egypt (AP)

Egypt's agriculture ministry said a Swiss inspection company will examine imported wheat shipments after the recent trade tension with Russia over the staple crop.

The ministry has contracted the Geneva-based SGS group to examine and test wheat Egypt imports to ensure they are in compliance with Egyptian standards, ministry spokesman Hamed Abdel-Dayem told Aswat Masriya news website.

The company, which got a no-bid contract under a cabinet decision, will replace quarantine committees that had previously inspected imported wheat shipments abroad, the spokesman added.

Shipments will continue to be inspected in the country of origin before they are sent to Egypt for a second inspection.

Exporters traditionally covered the cost of Egyptian committees inspecting wheat imports overseas, though it is not immediately clear who will pay the Swiss company, Abdel-Dayem said.

Earlier in September, Egypt, the world's largest wheat importer, formally rejected a Russian wheat shipment due to finding trace levels of the common grain fungus ergot. Russia is one of the major suppliers of wheat to Egypt.

The move followed a tightening of regulations last month by Cairo to ban any amount of ergot in imported wheat, with Egypt failing to approve any Russian wheat shipments since the measure was adopted.

After adopting the new measure, Egypt failed to attract a single offer at its state grain tender, forcing it to cancel its third consecutive wheat purchase tender amid a standoff with suppliers over the new import policies.

Egypt later scrapped the restrictions and is now back to accepting shipments containing a maximum 0.05 percent ergot in imports, a quantity considered the standard limit by many countries.

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