Egypt Independent

Trade minister: Rice smuggling attempts will be dealt with firmly



The Trade Ministry in coordination with the Finance Ministry will firmly deal with any attempts to smuggle rice out of the country by monitoring land and sea ports said Foreign Trade and Industry Minister Mahmoud Issa on Wednesday.

According to a ministry statement released on Thursday, during his meeting with a number of Chamber of Commerce board members in Cairo on Wednesday evening, Issa reviewed the most important challenges faced by traders; including the smuggling of rice and the difficulties they face in trying to enter the market in COMESA countries.

Issa said the ban on rice exports is still in effect and that there was no plan to reverse it.

Concerning the demands for the Chamber of Commerce to reconsider the establishment of an integrated business city, Issa said the ministry has no objections to the establishment of such a city in coordination with the Social Solidarity and Domestic Trade Ministry. He said the city would contribute to the circulation of goods and the creation of modern markets. He called on Chamber of Commerce board members to provide an integrated study of the establishment of such a city as soon as possible.

Reuters reported last month that the smuggling business is so large that a January report by the embassy attache for the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates Egypt will export up to 600,000 tons of contraband rice in the marketing year 2011-2012, which runs from October to September. That would total around half of the 1.1 million tons it needs every year for its subsidy program.

Egypt banned rice exports in 2008, regularly renewing the ban to try to protect its domestic market and ensure low prices. It last renewed the ban in October.

Translated from Al-Masry Al-Youm