Issues with rice exports have yet to be resolved, Minister of Supply and Internal Trade Khaled Hanafy said late Saturday, adding that the media would be informed of any updates.
On 3 March, the minister told state-owned news agency MENA that he would reconsider a decision suspending rice exports. There have since been demands to resume rice exports, Hanafy said, “in order to open new rice markets abroad, and contribute to revitalising the economy.”
“As soon as the rice merchants heard about the possibility of exportation, they stopped selling it,” said the Vice Chairman of Rice Division in the Federation of Egyptian Industries (FEI) Mostafa Atallah. “Rice merchants withhold their stocks so that they can make more profits in exporting it.”
Earlier in November, then Minister of Industry and Foreign Trade Mounir Fakhry Abdel Nour announced that the government plans to export 100,000 tonnes of rice, that was set to take place between mid-November and January 2014.
According to Atallah, these plans were suspended, due to domestic shortages because of merchants attempting to monopolise the market and raise prices.
Atallah added that the issue of rice exports is “not expected to be addressed before September.”
Former Minister of Supply Mohamed Abu Shady meanwhile made a contradictory announcement to Abdel Nour’s in October, saying that rice exports would be halted “until all ration needs of the grain are met”.
“I will not pay heed to the interests of a few dozen rice exporters at the expense of domestic markets,” Abu Shady told the Daily News Egypt in a November interview.