Egypt directly buys 240,000 tonnes of Russian wheat

Stalks of wheat are pictured in a field in Al Qalyubia Governorate, Egypt, May 19, 2022. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

CAIRO, Aug 23 (Reuters) - Egypt's state grains buyer directly purchased 240,000 tonnes of Russian wheat on Monday, the supply ministry said in a statement to Reuters, continuing its recent trend of buying without issuing international tenders.

The General Authority for Supply Commodities (GASC) bought six 40,000 tonne-cargoes on a cost and freight basis, with payment via 180-day letters of credit, two people with knowledge of the matter said.

The ministry did not disclose the price or the supplier but traders said they thought it was sold by trading company GTCS at a price of $368 per tonne, around an 8% drop from its last purchase in July.

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The state buyer has so far purchased around 1.8 million tonnes of imported wheat since the beginning of the new fiscal year via tenders and direct purchases, the supply minister told reporters on Monday.

Egypt's strategic reserves of wheat currently stand at seven months, one month longer than its usual target of six months.

Egypt, one of the world's top wheat importers, has become heavily reliant on Russian and Ukrainian grain in recent years.

The private sector and Egypt's state grains buyer have tried to diversify their wheat sources this year but significant purchases of Russian wheat continued in the months following Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Russia calls its actions in Ukraine "a special military operation."

The six cargoes will be shipped over the following periods: Sep. 20 to Oct. 10, Oct. 11 to Oct. 30 and Oct. 21 to Nov. 10, the ministry added.

Further direct purchases could still be made as talks were still ongoing, the people said.

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Reporting by Sarah El Safty and Michael Hogan; Editing by David Evans, Mark Porter and Josie Kao

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