CAIRO, EGYPT — Egypt’s imports of Russian wheat increased 84% in the March-May period compared with a year earlier, Reuters reported.
Egypt is one of the world’s top wheat importers and is heavily reliant on Russia and Ukraine, which have been at war since Russia's invasion on Feb. 24. Imports from Ukraine have stopped with its seaports on the Black Sea under a blockade while imports from Russia in the three-month period increased to 1,056,290 tonnes from 573,213 tonnes a year earlier.
From January-May, Egypt’s total wheat imports dropped 24%, and those from Russia dropped 30%, Reuters said. But wheat from Russia still accounted for more than 50% of the total.
Most imports of Russian wheat have come through the private sector. Ukraine has accused Russia of stealing Ukrainian wheat. In May, Ukraine thanked Egypt for sending back a cargo Kyiv said was stolen and which Cairo said did not have proper paperwork, Reuters said.
Some Egyptian banks have refused payments to Russian entities because of sanctions, but traders said importers have made purchases through suppliers in third countries including the United Arab Emirates and Switzerland.
One of the traders, all of whom asked not to be named, said banks still required extra paperwork if the cargo was Russian.
“Egypt is still price-oriented,” a trader told Reuters. “They look at it from an economic point of view. No one cares about the politics of it.”Egypt’s state grains buyer, the General Authority for Supply Commodities (GASC), has continued purchasing Russian wheat but faced challenges finding freight offers to transport it in its last tender this month, four traders toldReuters.