Russia lifts ban on import of Egyptian fruits and vegetables

The Russian Ministry of Commerce announced on Monday that it would lift the temporary ban that had been imposed last week on the import of Egyptian fruits and vegetables, with the decision following negotiations with an Egyptian delegation to Moscow and the receipt of a Russian wheat shipment.

The ban was announced on September 18, after Egypt rejected a Russian wheat shipment that contained trace amounts of the common grain fungus ergot.

Egypt’s wheat import policy has vacillated between the internationally recognized standard, which allows for shipments contain a 0.05 percent trace of ergot, and a zero-tolerance mandate that was first introduced in December 2015 and was accompanied by a claim that the fungus could be harmful, if consumed in large quantities.

Following pressure applied by Russia, as well as other wheat exporters, in response to Egypt recently reinstating the zero-tolerance ergot policy, the Egyptian government backed down on Saturday, accepting 240,000 tons of Russian wheat in accordance with the 0.05 percent international standard.

The decision to accept the shipment came one day before an Egyptian delegation was scheduled to travel to Moscow to address the Russian ban on Egyptian products. Agriculture Ministry consultant Saad Nassar headed the delegation that included government officials, wheat exporters and agricultural experts.

Egypt sold US$350 million in agricultural commodities to Russia in 2015, according to a statement from Trade and Industry Minister Tarek Qabil. Approximately 30 percent of Egypt’s orange exports — a total of 400,000 tons — were sold to Russia last year, reported Reuters.


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