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Egyptian-Russian Negotiations to End Crisis of Wheat and Potatoes Shipments
Published in Almasry Alyoum on 28 - 05 - 2009

Sharif al-Beltagi, head of the Export Council of Agricultural Crops, said: "Russia has refused to release the Egyptian citrus shipment in reaction to Egypt's decision to stop importing Russian wheat."
The Russian side saw Egypt's decision to seize the Russian wheat shipment as a deliberate measure to tarnish the Russian wheat's reputation in favor of other competitors such as the US, France and Ukraine.
 
"The Egyptian citrus shipment was returned to Egypt to be re-checked in Cairo. The results showed that it was not infected with fruit fly or any other diseases," al-Beltagi said, referring to the fact that the Russian action was a "retaliatory" reaction to the Egyptian measure.
"It is the Egyptian citrus companies that pay the price of the conflict between wheat importers," he added.
 
On the other hand, an official source at the Ministry of Agriculture's Plant Quarantine said the ministry has not received any notification on seizing any shipments. "No citrus or wheat shipments have arrived to the Egyptian ports after being rejected by the Russian side," he said, ruling out that the Russian authorities would take such procedures.
 
For his part, head of the Exporters General Division of the Federation of Egyptian Chambers of Commerce said an Egyptian shipment of potato returned from the Russian ports to Egypt. The plant quarantine agencies of the two countries began discussions on the problem and the Russian side stressed that it did not take retaliatory reaction to the Egyptian stance towards Russian wheat.
 
An official in the Egyptian plant quarantine said the Russian side is committed to some measures to regulate the import and export of shipments between the two countries. The Egyptian shipments will be examined before being shipped to Russia. If they have insects, they will be returned to Egypt.
Khaled Abu Ismail, head of the Committee on Citrus in the Export Council of Agricultural Crops, said Egypt's exports of citrus to Russia this year reached 80,000 tons. The exports of potatoes are expected to reach 60,000 tons. This is good, but we have concerns over some warning messages from the Russian authorities to their counterparts in Egypt in response to what he called the Egyptian "lurking" the Russian wheat.
 
An official source at the Ministry of Trade and Industry said Egypt will not stop importing Russian wheat just because it had some reservations on a certain shipment.
The Egyptian Minister of Trade and Industry Rashid, Mohamed Rashid, will take part in the Egyptian-Russian committee's meetings to be held in Moscow next week. Rashid will tell the Russian side that what happened with the last Russian shipment of wheat was an ordinary procedure aiming to check the authenticity of the shipment.
Such a procedure is applied to all shipments in order to ensure that they are free of insects and weeds and that they are not harmful to human health.
 
With regard to the procedures for releasing citrus shipments, the source said: "There is an agreement with the Russian side that experts will check citrus shipments that arrive to the Egyptian ports before exportation. The shipments will be released in the ports of arrival."


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