The world’s largest importer of wheat has criticized Russia for withdrawing from the grain deal

Russia’s attempts to win over the countries of the “global South” may be thwarted by its decision to withdraw from the grain agreement with the UN, thanks to which many of these countries bought Ukrainian products.

Egyptian authorities on Thursday criticized Russia for its actions and said it would continue to buy wheat from Ukraine. “We are unhappy with Russia’s withdrawal from the UN grain export agreement,” Ali al-Moselhi’s domestic trade and procurement official told Bloomberg. He called on Moscow to reconsider its position.

The war in Ukraine has seriously complicated the situation on the food market in Egypt, which is the world’s largest importer of wheat. Its annual consumption is almost 25 million tons, while the domestic market produces about 12 million tons. The country bought most of its foreign wheat from Russia and Ukraine, the latter accounting for 20% of imports. Imported wheat makes half of the flour used in the government-subsidized bread program. It has been operating since the 1940s and now allows 72 million Egyptians to get cheap bread every day, said Jessica Barnes, a geography professor at the University of South Carolina.

Egypt resumed purchasing from Ukraine in late 2022 thanks to a grain deal concluded last summer.

The prices of wheat, corn and many other goods exported by Ukraine rose sharply in the first half of 2022, but then fell. They jumped this week after Russia announced it was pulling out of a grain deal and then threatened to sink ships bound for Ukrainian ports.

In addition, in recent days, Russian troops have been conducting massive shelling of Odessa and Mykolaiv, including attacks on granaries and ports. The largest Ukrainian agricultural holding, Kernel, announced that it will take at least a year to repair one of the damaged facilities.

Attacks on such infrastructure “mark a new phase of the conflict,” said experts from the Paris-based consulting firm Agritel.

According to al-Moselhi, Egypt intends to continue importing Ukrainian wheat through Europe. The government is negotiating with the UAE to raise $400 to finance the purchases.


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