SOCHI: Russia will increase exports of wheat to Egypt and imports of other agriculture products from it, Russian officials said yesterday as the two countries discussed the potential for free trade.
The move comes as Russia seeks new sources of supply after it banned most food imports from the United States, the European Union, Australia, Canada and Norway last week in retaliation for Western sanctions over the crisis in Ukraine. “Egypt has already increased (agricultural) supplies to our market by 30 percent (and) is ready to increase (supplies) by yet another 30 percent in the near future,” Russian President Vladimir Putin said after meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi.
Increased Egyptian shipments of products such as potato, onion, garlic and oranges will compensate for up to half of the shortfall of these products caused by the ban, Russian Agriculture Minister Nikolai Fyodorov told reporters in Sochi. Egypt is the world’s biggest wheat importer and the largest buyer of Russian wheat. The North African country bought 3.6 million tonnes of Russian wheat in the marketing year to end-June.
Putin and Al Sisi also discussed the creation of a free trade zone between Egypt and the Moscow-led Customs Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan.