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Egypt studies buying Polish, Hungarian wheat

Commodities body examines alternative for wheat in a bid to lower the cost of imports, which add up to more than 3.5 million tonnes since July

Reuters, Sunday 27 Nov 2011

Egypt, the world's biggest wheat importer, said on Sunday it could add Polish and Hungarian wheat to its list of origins in international tenders but said the move would take time as Egyptian officials would first have to visit the countries.

"This matter is still under study," Nomani Nomani, vice chairman of the General Authority for Supply Commodities (GASC), the main state wheat buyer, told Reuters.

Egypt added Ukraine wheat to its tender list in October after a visit to the country, saying it wanted to boost competition amongst Black Sea origin wheat.

GASC said it would follow the same steps in trying to add Polish and Hungarian wheat.

"We are currently looking into the matter to see the condition of the crops and specifications and the shipping ports and after we finish all these studies we then arrange a visit to the countries to see how the markets operate," Nomani said.

Nomani said he did not expect the origins to be added soon.

"We will see the appropriate timing as we still have to conduct a lot of studies and the Polish crop for example this season isn't that good," he said.

Since the start of the 2011/12 fiscal year on July 1, GASC's purchases have been dominated by Black sea origin wheat. GASC purchased 2.88 million tonnes of Russian wheat, 180,000 tonnes of Romanian wheat, 120,000 tonnes of Kazakh wheat, 300,000 tonnes of Ukrainian wheat and 60,000 tonnes of Russian, Ukraine or Kazakh wheat at the seller's option.

Traders said the move to add the two new origins could add pressure to Russian wheat prices offered in GASC tenders.

"They are trying to keep Russian wheat prices cheap by including offers from origins of similar specifications and prices," a trader, who asked not to be named, said.

"This is exactly what GASC was trying to do when it added Ukraine wheat," he said.

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