Egypt has banned the entry of a ship carrying 55,000 tons of Indian wheat originally bound for Turkey, Egypt’s factory quarantine chief Ahmed El Attar said on Saturday.
“We rejected the ship before it entered Egypt,” he said Reutersadding that the Turkish quarantine authorities had already blocked the ship’s arrival.
Separately, Egypt, the world’s largest importer of wheat, was expecting the arrival of its first-ever Indian wheat shipment later on Saturday, which was bought by Egypt’s private sector.
Supply Minister Aly Moselhy said in May that a deal with India to buy 500,000 tonnes of wheat directly outside of the usual bidding system had been agreed but not signed.
In April, Egypt’s Agriculture Ministry said it had approved India as a source for wheat supplies as the North African country seeks to replace purchases disrupted by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The Indian government confirmed it would continue to allow shipments awaiting customs clearance and exports to Egypt.
Moselhy previously said the Indian ban would not apply to any government deal with Egypt.
Egypt has so far sourced 3.5 million tons of local wheat during the harvest season, a senior agriculture ministry official said Reuters on Saturday.
The wheat sourcing season ends in August, he added.
Amid reports that Turkey is refusing an Indian shipment of wheat on quality grounds, Food Minister Sudhanshu Pandey had said on Thursday the government had sought details from Turkish authorities on the matter, as affected exporter ITC Ltd had claimed that the shipment of 60,000 tonnes all had required clearances.
Asked if Turkey rejected the Indian wheat shipment on phytosanitary grounds, Pandey told reporters, “We have reviewed that report. It was ITC and it met all the quality requirements.” The shipment had around 60,000 tons of wheat, he said.
ITC, a major wheat exporter, has informed the government that it sold the wheat to a Geneva-based company, which resold the goods to a Turkish company. All financial transactions have taken place, Pandey said.
“All local clearances must have been completed prior to payment. Quarantine had also happened in India. The company informed us. … Your financial transaction … including the Turkish importer was complete,” he added.
The secretary said the Ministry of Agriculture and the Agricultural Export Promotion Corporation APEDA have contacted Turkey’s quarantine authorities on the matter.
“You haven’t heard from them. There is no formal communication yet,” he noted.
India banned wheat exports on May 13 to keep local prices in check amid a slight drop in domestic production. However, it allowed shipments registered before the ban came into force to be sent.
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