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Egyptian Min To Visit Australia For Wheat Supply Talks
Finance, May 5, 2004
Egypt's minister for supply and internal trade will visit Australia next week to discuss the long-term supply of wheat, Warren Truss, Australia's agriculture minister, said Wednesday.

Truss said he is optimistic Hassan Khedr's visit could lead to a substantial long-term agreement for Australia to supply Egypt with wheat, and possibly barley and pulses as well.

Australia is a major supplier of wheat to Egypt, one of the world's biggest importers of the grain. Australia has around 19 million tons of wheat available for export, out of its last crop of 25 million tons.

Truss said he is enthusiastic about the potential for Australia's grain trade with Egypt, which could become Australia's biggest wheat customer this year.

"A long-term agreement would provide stable trade with Egypt and security for Australian wheat farmers," he said in a statement.

Peter McBride, a spokesman for wheat export monopoly operator AWB Ltd., said AWB, which holds a 30% stake in Five Star Flour Mill in Egypt, is hopeful a framework can be agreed next week to investigate a long-term supply agreement.

Such a framework agreement would build on AWB's relationship with Egypt that extends back for more than 50 years, he said.

Exports to Egypt from Australia's new wheat crop harvested in November and December have already reached 2.3 million metric tons, valued at more than A$500 million, he said.

Exports this year are well up from a 5-year annual average for exports of around 800,000 tons, so "we're back in, in a big way," he told Dow Jones Newswires.

Truss invited Khedr to visit Australia during meetings in Egypt in recent days with ministers as part of a 12-day mission to the Middle East to secure future agricultural trading opportunities for farmers, he said.

Truss also visited the site of a proposed grain handling and storage facility at Sokhna Port on the Gulf of Suez in the Red Sea.

"The new port, which is currently under construction, is an important strategic investment for Egypt and will see it become a major trading hub for the region," he said.

Egypt imports between 6 million tons and 7 million tons of wheat a year, he said.

Egypt is developing demand for harder, higher protein wheat types, with about a quarter, or 500,000 tons, of Australian wheat sales to Egypt this year falling into this category, he said.
MGR Archive 6.5.2004
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Russia Rapan $ 700
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