Egypt’s agriculture ministry updates policy to end ergot confusion

Egypt, the world’s biggest importer of wheat, consumes 17 million tons of the grain per year but produces no more than 9.6 million tons. (Reuters)
Updated 14 December 2017
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Egypt’s agriculture ministry updates policy to end ergot confusion

DUBAI: Egypt’s agriculture ministry has officially brought its policy on common grain fungus ergot into line with other government agencies, in a move traders hope will end long-running confusion over import requirements at the world’s biggest wheat buyer.
“We want to reassure our suppliers,” Hamed Abdel Dayem, spokesman for the ministry, told Reuters on Thursday, confirming its new decree.
Reuters reported late on Wednesday the new decree, dated Dec. 12, stated that any wheat with an ergot content above 0.05 percent would be rejected, while shipments infected below that level would be treated and accepted.
This fixes a discrepancy in regulations governing the work of the agricultural quarantine agency, which falls under the agriculture ministry.
Confusion over Egypt’s ergot policy wreaked havoc on global grain markets in 2016 until a decree by the prime minister put an end to the crisis by enforcing the common international 0.05 percent tolerance level over the stricter zero tolerance policy practiced by agricultural inspectors.
The root of the problem was a 2001 regulation used by the country’s agriculture quarantine inspectors which stipulated, until this week’s decree, a zero tolerance for ergot.
That regulation had remained unchanged despite the prime minister’s decree issued more than a year ago.
Other Egyptian officials and bodies followed a different specification issued in 2010 by the Egyptian Organization for Standardization and Quality allowing trace levels of up to 0.05 percent, the common worldwide standard and the one stipulated by Egypt’s grain-importing body, the General Authority for Supply Commodities (GASC).
The agriculture ministry’s latest decree changes that.
“This means officially by the law, there should be no more ergot issues,” a Cairo-based trader said.
In November, Egypt filed a legal complaint against a court ruling issued earlier in the month that effectively reinstated zero tolerance for the fungus.
GASC has continued to retain its 0.05 percent tolerance level in shipments despite the court ruling.


Pompeo says China is engaging in ‘predatory economics 101’

Would China have allowed America to do to it what China has done to America asked US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. (AP)
Updated 18 June 2018
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Pompeo says China is engaging in ‘predatory economics 101’

  • He said China’s recent claims of “openness and globalization” are “a joke.”

DETROIT: China is engaging in “predatory economics 101” and an “unprecedented level of larceny” of intellectual property, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told a business audience Monday.
Pompeo made the remarks at the Detroit Economic Club as global markets reacted to trade tensions between the US and China. Both nations started putting trade tariffs in motion that are set to take effect July 6.
He said China’s recent claims of “openness and globalization” are “a joke.” He added that China is a “predatory economic government” that is “long overdue in being tackled,” matters that include IP theft and Chinese steel and aluminum flooding the US market.
“Everyone knows ... China is the main perpetrator,” he said. “It’s an unprecedented level of larceny.”
“Just ask yourself: Would China have allowed America to do to it what China has done to America?” he said later. “This is predatory economics 101.”
The Chinese Embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Pompeo raised the trade issue directly with China last week, when he met in Beijing with President Xi Jinping and others.
“I reminded him that’s not fair competition,” Pompeo said.
President Donald Trump has announced a 25 percent tariff on up to $50 billion in Chinese imports. China is retaliating by raising import duties on $34 billion worth of American goods, including soybeans, electric cars and whiskey. Trump also has slapped tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Canada, Mexico and European allies.
Wall Street has viewed the escalating trade tensions with wariness, fearful they could strangle the economic growth achieved during Trump’s watch. Gary Cohn, Trump’s former top economic adviser, said last week that a “tariff battle” could result in price inflation and consumer debt — “historic ingredients for an economic slowdown.”
Pompeo on Monday described US actions as “economic diplomacy,” which, when done right, strengthens national security and international alliances, he added.
“We use American power, economic might and influence as a tool of economic policy,” he said. “We do our best to call out unfair economic behaviors as well.”