ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA, U.S. — Government officials and executives with trading and flour milling companies from Egypt and Libya are traveling in the U.S. Sept. 5 to 14 to learn about the U.S. wheat production and marketing system and to strengthen commercial relationships with the U.S. wheat industry. The visit is sponsored by U.S. Wheat Associates (USW), the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Kansas Wheat Commission.
“Because each country must import wheat, both Egypt and Libya make it a policy to provide bread for their people at a very low cost,” said Hesham Hassanein, regional marketing and special projects manager with the USW regional office in Cairo, Egypt. “We want to help prove to both government officials and private buyers that they can rely on the United States as a wheat supplier by demonstrating first-hand the distinctive qualities of U.S. wheat and by building trust in the U.S. supply chain and inspection procedures.”
The members of this team are all directly involved in wheat buying or flour milling. The team includes the newly appointed head of Egypt's Central Administration of Plant Quarantine which is responsible for certifying the acceptance of incoming grain cargos. The team also includes the owner and general manager of an Egyptian trading and flour milling company with annual trading volume of more than 1.2 million tonnes of wheat. The Libyan members of this team include two general managers of major private milling companies operating at the east side of Libya with combined daily milling capacity of 1,600 tonnes.
Although Egypt is the world's largest wheat importer, the amount of U.S. wheat purchased each year can vary greatly. The landed cost of U.S. wheat is often higher than wheat from the nearby Black Sea region but Hassanein said quality is also important to both private and government importers. In Libya, the complicated public-private wheat acquisition and subsidy system present similar challenges and opportunities. Libya has only purchased significant quantities of U.S. wheat in two of the past 10 years, but the interim government is trying to stabilize the country and feeding its people is a priority. The key to competing in these important markets, Hassanein said, is to constantly emphasize the value elements associated with U.S. wheat and the unique features of the U.S. grain marketing, inspection and quality assurance systems.
The team will start its visit with a briefing by USW staff and representatives from local wheat industry organizations at the USW Headquarters Office in Arlington, Virginia, U.S. After private meetings at the Egyptian and Libyan embassies, the team will learn about world wheat supply and demand and USDA’s Federal Grain Inspection Service (FGIS). Meetings with private wheat exporters at the North American Export Grain Association rounds out the team’s Washington, DC, visit.
The team then travels to New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S., to observe grain inspection and ship loading at an export elevator. In Kansas City, Missouri, U.S., the officials will see how U.S. wheat prices are discovered at the Kansas City Board of Trade and learn more about the integrity of U.S. wheat inspection at the FGIS Technical Center. In Manhattan, Kansas, U.S., the team will get more information on wheat production and uses from the Kansas Wheat Commission, Kansas State University’s International Grains Program and AIB International.