Egypt in talks with Russia for release of impounded orange shipments

Mai Ghandour, Tuesday 8 Feb 2022

Egypt's Minister of Trade and Industry Nevine Gamea discussed on Tuesday with Russian Ambassador in Cairo Georgiy Borisenko ways to find an urgent solution to release Egyptian orange shipments impounded at a Russian port and destined for the Russian market.

Egypt oranges
File Photo: A worker collects oranges harvested at a farm in El Nobaria, northeast of Cairo, Egypt taken on December 23, 2020. REUTERS.

According to a statement by Egypt's cabinet, Gamea stressed that the Egyptian government is currently conducting intensive contacts with the Russian side to resolve the problem.

In December, Russia’s Federal Service for the Oversight of Consumer Protection and Welfare (Rospotrebnadzor) decided to suspend imports of a number of vegetables and fruits from certain producers in countries including Egypt, China and Iran in order to prevent the spread of large-scale poisoning among the population."

The Russian decision applies to specific producers not countries as a whole.

According to Gamea, Egypt is the number one exporter of oranges in the world at 2 million tonnes annually, pointing out that Egyptian oranges are also exported to the European Union, China, Japan and others.

“The Egyptian government is keen to export products that conform to international standards and are approved by the relevant Russian authorities,” Gamea said. 

From his side, Borisenko said that the Russian embassy in Cairo is following up with great interest the latest developments in the orange shipments designated to the Russian market, pointing out that the embassy has coordinated with relevant Russian authorities to pay more attention to this problem and work to solve it as soon as possible, the statement said.

Economic momentum

During the meeting, Gamea indicated that currently “there is an unprecedented economic momentum between Cairo and Moscow” based on the steady increase in the annual trade exchange rates and the ongoing negotiations of a free trade agreement between Egypt and the Eurasian Union countries, in addition to the project of establishing a Russian industrial zone in Egypt.

The Russian market, Gamea indicated, is one of the most important markets receiving Egyptian exports, with  Egyptian exports to Russia last year amounting to $489 million, compared to $416 million in 2020 - an increase of 17.5 percent.

Borisenko stressed that Russia and Egypt have solid strategic bilateral relations based on a long history of economic cooperation in various fields.

He also emphasised the Russian side is looking forward to further strengthening the frameworks of joint cooperation, especially in light of the great interest of the political leadership in the two countries to move forward on achieving a qualitative leap in joint economic relations.

Moreover, Gamea said that the meeting also dealt with preparations for holding the meetings of the Joint Egyptian-Russian Committee for Trade, Economic, Scientific and Technical Cooperation during the second half of March, with the participation of the two countries’ trade ministers.

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