Egypt likely to reject Romanian wheat cargo as prosecutor decides fate

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Egypt’s public prosecutor is looking likely to reject and re-export a cargo of Romanian wheat shipment bought by its state grain buyer GASC for containing poppy seeds, a judicial source told Reuters on Tuesday.

If re-exported, the cargo would be the first GASC wheat purchase to be turned away from an Egyptian port since a French wheat cargo sold by Bunge was rejected for containing the common grain fungus ergot in late 2015.

A report on the 63,000 tonne cargo, which was inspected at the Red Sea port of Safaga, was submitted to the prosecutor’s office and contains evidence of the presence of poppy seeds, sources said.

“There is an inclination towards rejecting the shipment and re-exporting it,” one of the sources said.

Traders said any rejection of a wheat cargo purchased by GASC could again make global wheat suppliers hesitant to do business with Egypt after a near year-long row over import requirements last year that led many of them to boycott state tenders.

Egypt’s agriculture quarantine service threw the country’s grain trade into disarray last year when it began imposing a total ban on the common grain fungus ergot and rejected a French wheat cargo for containing trace amounts.

Egypt subsequently scrapped its zero-ergot policy and came into line with international standards to win back traders to its tenders. It also stopped sending Egyptian quarantine inspectors abroad to check on grain shipments and started using private companies instead.

But the new system was successfully challenged in court by a group of quarantine inspectors who argued it had allowed contaminants hazardous to plant and animal health into the country.

The government has not implemented the court order and is appealing the decision, leaving the new system in limbo. Source: Reuters