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Egypt's GASC seeks wheat, first tender in a month

Egypt's main state wheat buyer returned to global markets on Friday after an absence of nearly a month to buy supplies of the grain

Reuters, Saturday 5 Feb 2011

Egypt, the world's top importer of wheat, was seeking supplies from some of the world's top exporters of the grain, including the United States, Canada and Australia.

Cairo's announcement of the tender to purchase wheat comes after a spell of panic buying by restive North African and Middle Eastern countries in the wake of violent riots toppling the president of Tunisia, another major wheat importer.

U.S. wheat shipments were disrupted this week by the turmoil in Egypt because of problems related to letters of credit. Some shippers sought to amend letters of credit, but banks in Egypt were closed so the large wheat transactions were essentially put on hold.

A U.S. wheat trader said the issue was "mostly resolved" as Egyptian banks were set to reopen by Sunday so grain exporters should be comfortable offering wheat in the latest tender.

"People may price in some added risk, but I don't think people will be too afraid to offer," said the trader, who asked not to be named.

The tender was set by the General Authority for Supply Commodities (GASC), which was seeking an unspecified amount of hard and soft wheat.

GASC last bought wheat on global market on January 8, and this tender is the first since pro-democracy protests erupted on January 25.

Numerous neighboring countries have stepped up imports of food staples like wheat in hopes of soothing growing anger over poverty and unemployment in the food-import-dependent region, including Algeria, which purchased more than 2 million tonnes of wheat last month.

Private buyers in Egypt have bought modest volumes of wheat in recent weeks. But GASC, which last week said it had six months of supplies on hand, has not been in the market since making a 175,000-tonne purchase on January 8.

Nomani Nomani, vice chairman of GASC said on Friday he was seeking offers for cargoes of soft wheat for March 21-31 shipment and hard wheat for April 1-10 shipment.

He gave the following breakdown of origins and volumes:


* 55,000-tonne cargoes of U.S. hard red winter wheat

* 60,000-tonne cargoes of U.S. hard red spring wheat; U.S. dark northern spring wheat; hard Canadian wheat; and Australian hard wheat


* 55,000-tonne cargoes of U.S. North Pacific soft white wheat

* 60,000-tonne cargoes of U.S. soft red winter wheat; Canadian soft wheat; French milling wheat; Australian standard white wheat; German milling wheat; Argentine bread wheat; UK milling wheat (ukp or uks variety)

Wheat bids should be free-on-board, with a separate freight offer.

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