CAIRO (Reuters) – Egypt’s agriculture ministry has formed a high level committee to try and resolve a trade standoff with Russia over agricultural commodities, the ministry said on Sunday.
Russia said on Friday it would temporarily suspend imports of fruit and vegetables from Egypt starting Sept. 22.
The Russian ban came shortly after Egyptian quarantine inspectors rejected a 60,000-tonne shipment of Russian wheat because it contained trace levels of the common grains fungus ergot, which Cairo recently banned.
Egypt is the biggest buyer of Russian wheat and Russia is a top export market for Egyptian fruits.
Moscow has a history of using threats and limiting imports in trade disputes, but Cairo’s policy over the ergot fungus has created a headache for all of Egypt’s wheat suppliers, who say guaranteeing zero ergot in shipments is impossible.
Egypt said it will send a team to Russia at the end of September to discuss the trade standoff, just ahead of the start of its citrus export season.
The ministry of agriculture’s committee will also meet with the Russian ambassador in Cairo to discuss Russia’s ban and to “avoid any obstacles” to solving the issue, the ministry said in a statement.
(Reporting by Eric Knecht; Editing by Susan Fenton)