Egypt’s GASC again cancels tender to buy rice
Rice plant - YOUM7 (Archive)

ABU DHABI: Egypt’s state grain buyer, the General Authority for Supply Commodities (GASC), said on Monday it had cancelled an international tender to buy an unspecified amount of rice.

GASC Vice chairman Mamdouh Abdel Fattah did not give a reason for the cancellation.

Traders said GASC had received only two valid offers for the tender, all for Indian origin rice.

A third offer had been rejected for lack of necessary paperwork.

Another tender seeking an unspecified amount of rice will be held with deadline for offers on April 2, Abdel Fattah said.

The tender was the second since Egypt announced in October it was lifting an export ban on rice and placing a 2,000-Egyptian-pound-per-tonne ($225.23) export tariff on the crop.

GASC cancelled its first tender on Jan. 27 saying it needed to give more time to suppliers to issue necessary paperwork.

Egypt is attempting to import rice to fill a supply gap in subsidized domestic goods despite having a surplus of the crop.

The North African country produced 3.75 million tons of rice in the 2015 season and carried over 700,000 tonnes from 2014. With consumption at 3.3 million tons, that leaves a surplus of more than 1 million tonnes.

But the government’s failure to stockpile rice earlier in the season has left it at the mercy of traders, who are unwilling to sell to the state and choosing to stockpile instead as domestic prices of rice are rising daily.

Previous governments have stockpiled 200,000 to 500,000 tons of rice at the beginning of the season to prevent traders from stockpiling the grain to raise prices, but current Minister of Supply Khaled Hanafi did not buy a strategic reserve.

GASC’s attempt to import cheaper Indian rice is seen as a way of tackling the stockpiling problem as it would force local traders to lower their prices.

($1 = 8.8799 Egyptian pounds

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