• State buyer canceled local tender as hoarding led to high cost
  • Country plans import tender Saturday to try to contain surge

Egypt will ban rice exports in its effort to end a surge in prices partly driven by local traders hoarding the grain. 

The ban, effective April 4, will help “achieve stability in rice prices for consumers,” the ministry of trade said in an e-mailed statement on Thursday.

The decree comes just days before the government’s grain purchaser seeks to buy rice in an international tender on Saturday. Even as Egypt produces a surplus of the grain, the country has been hit by local traders holding back supplies to try to push up prices. That has left rice in short supply for weeks at stores selling state-subsidized food. A tender for domestic supplies on March 19 was canceled because of the high prices offered.

Food shortages and price jumps carry a political risk for Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi as millions of Egyptians depend on state subsidies to eat. He’s already battling a drop in foreign-currency inflows as Gulf Arab allies cut aid amid tumbling oil prices and as the tourism industry suffers following political tumult and terror attacks.

Egypt lifted a ban on rice exports for six months last October.

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