Thursday, September 27, 2007

Is wheat the new oil?

"In the long term, if this situation persists it will cause major economic ramifications but for now many of these countries cannot afford to leave populations hungry in addition to all the political tensions,” a senior Jordanian official involved in grains purchases said.

For the moment, though, Iraq, Jordan, Egypt and Algeria will not stop scaling down purchases, despite the higher import bills, analysts, millers and state buyers said.

State purchasing agencies have made massive buys in recent weeks in large tenders that have actually have tightened supply and contributed to a doubling of wheat prices since April.

They are announcing new tenders to ensure smooth deliveries in the coming months.

International traders, millers and officials say state purchasers cannot risk tampering with subsidy regimes that have dulled the impact of steep bread price rises after hikes years ago that sparked civil unrest in several countries, including Egypt and Jordan.

Analysts and industry experts say social stability outweighs the fiscal gains from subsidy reductions in a region which feeds a majority of its rising population on imports."

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