Egypt’s GASC to pay for wheat within 180 days instead of immediately

Egypt, the world’s largest wheat importer, will go back to paying its grain suppliers within 180 days instead of immediately, a government source and traders said. Egypt’s state grain buyer GASC had said in January it would start immediate on-site payment after obtaining financing from Islamic Trade Finance Corp. for its international purchasing tenders.

Before that announcement, GASC had for years used a deferred payment system introduced at a time when foreign-exchange shortages plagued Egypt’s economy, pushing up wheat prices offered to the state buyer at its international tenders.

The state buyer secured $1 billion of a $3 billion Islamic Trade Finance Corp. deal to fund its wheat purchases in January. Prior to that deal, GASC’s letters of credit — banking guarantees for on-time payment to sellers — were being issued prior to shipment, with payment guaranteed within 180 days. GASC is reverting to that deferred payment system for its upcoming tender, the government source said.

A senior government source told Reuters in January that the financing from Islamic Trade Finance could be renewed when the initial $1 billion tranche was used up, so deferred payments would no longer make purchases more expensive for GASC.

Egypt said at the end of February it had used $213 million in funding from Islamic Trade Finance for wheat purchases so far, buying 1.02 million tonnes.

This latest reversal indicates that more funding from that facility is not now readily available, traders said. The question being asked is how much money Egypt has.

On-site payment means cheaper offers by suppliers because the cost of financing deferred payment would be taken out of traders’ calculations when making offers to GASC at international tenders.

Shekhar Ghosh is consulting editor, Indoasiancommodities.com. He has edited and written for publications like Business India, Business Standard, Business Today, Outlook and many other international publications. He can be reached at shekhar.ghosh@indoasiancommodities.in.

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