CAIRO, EGYPT — Egypt’s state commodities buyer will suspend a 15% price advantage given to National Navigation Company, Egypt’s state shipping line, to transport government-tendered wheat, Egyptian and European traders told Reuters on Oct. 19.

The General Authority for Supply Commodities (GASC) traditionally has used Egyptian state-owned ships to carry its wheat imports. But with shipping costs skyrocketing due to the global supply chain crisis, the GASC could be looking to decrease costs by increasing shipping, the traders told Reuters.

Egypt is perennially the world’s largest wheat importer and is among the biggest consumers of bread, which is subsidized by the government.

Ocean shipping prices are at near-record levels in part because supply chain bottlenecks have developed in the midst of the global COVID-19 pandemic. The congestion is particularly severe in China, the world’s biggest overall exporter of goods, which has shut down entire ports for periods of time to prevent the spread of COVID-19.