Egypt suspends rice and cement exports

Egypt is to suspend rice exports for six months, from April until October, to try to meet the demands of its own people hit by soaring food prices, a commerce ministry official said on Friday.

Egypt suspends rice and cement exports
"We have taken this decision to provide for the needs of the local market," Sayyed Abul Komsan, advisor to Commerce Minister Mohammed Rashid said.

"Rice is a staple food in Egypt and the main substitute for dough whose price has gone up following wheat price rises on the international market," he explained.

Egypt produces around 4.5 million tonnes of rice a year, of which 3.5 million is allocated to the local market, said Komsan. Most exports go to Turkey, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan.

The country, with a population of 80 million, was due to have exported between 300,000 and 400,000 tonnes in the coming six months, he said.

The commerce minister said in the local press on Friday that cement exports were also being suspended over the same period to combat price rises on the local market.

"We export two million tonnes cement a year, amounting to a tiny share of the international market," said Abul Komsan.

Faced with unprecedented social unrest, the Egyptian government has been trying to tackle rampant inflation which reached an annual rate of 12.5 percent by the end of February.

According to official figures, staple food prices including for unsubsidised bread have spiralled in Egypt, the world's largest consumer of bread, by 26.5 percent in a year.

The UN's World Food Programme estimates that average household expenditure in Egypt has risen by almost 50 percent since the start of 2008.

Last Mod: 28 Mart 2008, 16:28
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