India may allow exports of up to 500,000 mt wheat to Egypt and Jordan at a time when both the countries are finding it challenging to secure wheat supplies, officials with India’s food ministry told S&P Global Commodity Insights.
Egypt is one of the key importers of wheat from Black Sea. However, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has reduced supplies from the region. Egypt is the world’s largest wheat importer. Jordan is also among major wheat importers in the region.
India, the world’s second-largest producer, emerged as a major supplier of wheat in the aftermath of the invasion.
However, it restricted wheat exports as severe heatwaves across north Indian states weighed on India’s wheat output, creating price panic in domestic markets.
India’s wheat output estimate for marketing year 2021-22 (April-March) was reduced to 106.4 million mt in May, down 5% from initial estimates in February when export prospects were strong. India’s wheat output is now seen 3% lower on the year.
However, Egypt and Jordan have requested India to allow shipments to ensure domestic food security.
“We received a request from Egypt for wheat supplies. The commerce ministry will take a final call on the matter,” an official with the food ministry added.
If India approves the shipments, this will be the fourth time that India has allowed wheat exports since it imposed a ban on May 13.
“Since the exports from Black Sea disappeared Egypt has been struggling with wheat supplies to make up for its domestic consumption,” a trader based in Cairo said.
Egypt has been reeling under severe food inflation since the invasion began and global wheat prices shot up. Egypt’s food inflation was up 25% year on year in May, compared with 26% higher on the year in April, according to data released by Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics.
Egypt-India swap deal
To cope up with the depleting supply, Egypt is also in talks with India for a potential wheat-for-fertilizer swap deal.
“India and Egypt are in talks to chalk out a deal to exchange wheat for fertilizers and other goods,” an official with the India’s trade ministry said.
Similar to the situation with Egypt, India has been facing shortages of fertilizers. India usually imports nitrogen-based fertilizers from the Black Sea region. However, the invasion led fertilizer prices to shoot up.
Through the deal, India will be able to procure cheaper wheat while Egypt may source cheaper wheat.
Prices of Indian wheat are sharply cheaper compared with traditional sources like Russia, Europe, from where Egypt sources its wheat.
Currently, Indian wheat costs Rupee 23,000-25,000/mt ($295-320/mt), including wholesale prices and inland freight costs.
Platts assessed Russia’s 12.5% wheat FOB prices at $420/mt and Romania’s 11.5% wheat FOB from Constanta at $418.25, according to S&P Global Commodity Insights data.
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