Egypt Embraces Russia-Linked Soyuz As Wheat Official Supplier
Published Friday, 08 June 2012 11:43 | Written by Amwal Al Ghad
Soyuz Commodities, which has links to Moscow's state grain exporter, has won recognition as an official supplier to the world's largest wheat importer Egypt, positioning the year-old firm to become a major player in grains markets.
Egypt's state grain buyer, the General Authority for Supply Commodities (GASC), said on Thursday it had officially registered Switzerland-based Soyuz, the grain-trading arm of Russian investment group Summa Capital. Just one month ago, Summa bought a stake in Russia's state trader United Grain Company (UGC).
"To expand supplier sources and increase competitiveness and offers, GASC seeks to increase the number of wheat-supplying firms registered with it, and as such has added Soyuz Commodities," Nomani Nomani, vice chairman of GASC, told Reuters.
Nomani said a second firm, Switzerland-based Solaris, had also registered as a wheat supplier for GASC. Solaris also trades grains from Russia, which competes with rivals including the United States, Australia, France and Black Sea region producers to supply the huge Egyptian market.
Egypt is the world's largest wheat importer and has imported between 10 and 11 million tonnes of wheat annually for the past three years, according to International Grains Council (IGC) data.
Soyuz was first listed in June 2011 on Switzerland's commercial business register as a firm involved in the trade of goods and commodities including grains, sugar, metals and petrochemicals.
In late May Summa bought a stake of 50 percent minus one share in Russia's UGC, which combined with Summa's control of the port of Novorossiisk and existing grain trading operations, gave it a big role in one of the world's largest wheat markets.
The local agent for Soyuz Commodities in Egypt is Royal Company for Trading, Export and Import, Nomani said.
Summa Capital declined to comment.
Russian grain trader Solaris Commodities SA was first listed in December 2011 on Switzerland's commercial business register as a firm involved in cereals and any agricultural raw material.
"We're looking forward to supplying significant volumes of Russian wheat to GASC and private Egyptian buyers this season as Russian wheat has been the most competitive origin in recent years and Egypt is a key market for us," said Swithun Still, director at Solaris.
A large chunk of Egypt's wheat imports are typically sourced from Russia. The state's main grain buyer GASC is responsible for the majority of Egypt's wheat imports.
According to the IGC's May report, in 2011/12 Russia is forecast to be the world's third largest wheat exporter behind the U.S. and Australia.