After Egyptian decision to ban food exports: FAO calls to stop non-export policies

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The Ministry of Trade and Industry decided to ban the export of all kinds of oils, grits and corn, for a period of three months.

Several days ago, the Ministry had banned the export of five other commodities: beans, lentils, pasta, wheat and flour. These decisions come at a time when Egypt is facing a severe economic crisis, a significant increase in the prices of basic commodities in the local market, and a rise in inflation to the worst rate in two and a half years.

The head of the Oils Division in the Federation of Industries, Zakaria Al-Shafei, said, “What concerns us now is that the state allows exporters to implement contracts signed before the export ban decisions.”

The Food and Agriculture Organization had issued a report that recommended countries not to resort to export ban policies. The report noted that reductions in import tariffs or the use of export restrictions could help improve availability in domestic markets in the short term, but would increase upward price pressure on international markets. Mohamed Shaaban, director of export at one of the largest pasta exporters, explained that the problem with the decision lies in its issuance without giving exporters a grace period to export part of the quantities previously contracted. The former head of the Mills Division, Walid Diab, indicated that the production capacity of white flour mills in Egypt reaches 11 million tons, while the local market needs only six million.

A source in the Legumes and Agricultural Crops Division described the decision as harsh because it would negatively affect the prices of the bean crop expected to be harvested next month. The Agricultural Crops Division of the Cairo Chamber of Commerce called on the Minister of Trade and Industry to cancel the decision to ban the export of beans and lentils, considering that stopping the export of legumes opens the way for competing countries to take the place of Egyptian exporters.