Egypt Seen Asking France for Delayed Payment for Grain Imports

Egypt, the world’s biggest importer of wheat, asked France for permission to delay paying for grain purchases for nine to 12 months after loading, according to a group representing French cereal growers.

Egypt also is seeking free storage in France for its imports for as long as six months and aid in building silos at home, the Paris-based Association Generale des Producteurs de Ble said in a report on its website, without saying where it got the information.

Egypt uses the wheat to make subsidized bread that helps feed the Arab world’s largest populace. Twenty-five percent of Egyptians lived below the poverty line in 2011, according to state figures. The nation is mired in a polarizing battle between backers and opponents of Islamist President Mohamed Mursi, more than two years after Hosni Mubarak was ousted.

“Two years of political turmoil and economic crisis have diminished Egypt’s financial resources, making food and energy imports difficult,” the AGPB said.

The foreign-trade department of France’s finance ministry referred inquiries to Franc Secula, the head of its Cairo economic service, who didn’t immediately reply to e-mailed questions. Egypt is the world’s biggest wheat buyer.

Egypt has bought 750,756 metric tons of wheat from France in the current 2012-13 season. Shipments of French wheat to the country in the past decade ranged from as much as 2.55 million tons in 2002-03 to as little as 125,999 tons in 2007-08, trade figures show.

France’s finance ministry and grain exporters in the European country are considering a response to Egypt’s request, according to the AGPB.

To contact the reporter on this story: Rudy Ruitenberg in Paris at rruitenberg@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Claudia Carpenter at ccarpenter2@bloomberg.net

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