France fears its dominant position in Algeria’s market could be challenged as Russia is seeking to gain access to the North African country’s import tenders. Given Russian lobbying to enter the Algerian market, France will organise a trip to to the North African country to promote the wheat export.
Russian wheat exporters want to register with the Algerian authorities by the end of the year to start a process aimed at securing access to a market now dominated by France, the Russian authorities said. Russia also recently hosted a tour of Algerian officials and plans to send a trial shipment of wheat to Algeria soon, the agricultural agency Rosselkhoznadzor told.
Several Russian firms interested in exporting to Algeria planned to register with Algeria’s watchdog so they could submit samples for analysis, Yulia Melano, a spokeswoman for Russia agriculture watchdog Rosselkhoznadzor, told Reuters. Once registered, the firms would then send grain samples to the Algerian authorities for analysis, she said, adding that registration was expected to be completed before the end of 2018 and samples might also be sent by then.“We hope that our Algerian colleagues will discuss this issue with their watchdog and that it will take a decision,” Melano said.But she said could “not guarantee so far that there will be a decision” to grant approval for Russian suppliers to bid.
Algeria effectively bars Russian wheat due to a strict limit on bug damage in grain, making it one of the few import markets not to have seen a rise in flows from Russia, the world’s largest wheat supplier. To allow imports of Russian wheat, Algeria would need to increase the maximum permitted bug damage to around 0.5 percent from 0.1 percent, several traders said.
Algeria, with a population of 41 million, imported 8.2 million tonnes of wheat in 2017 and 8.4 million tonnes the previous year. This year, it expects to buy 7.2 million tonnes after recording its largest harvest in five decades
FRANCE TO SEND A DELEGATION TO ALGIERS
If cheaper Russian wheat is successful at gaining more access to Algeria, the world’s third largest wheat importer, farmers in Europe, especially France, could lose out. Given Russian lobbying to enter the Algerian market, France, top wheat suplier to Algeria, will send a delegation to North African country early next year to discuss grain sales, an official said. French wheat producers fear their dominant position in Algeria’s market could be challenged as Russia is seeking to gain access to the North African country’s import tenders.
Following a promise to the grain industry last month to organise a trip to Algeria, French junior trade minister Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne asked export promotion agency Business France to prepare a visit for the first half of 2019, an official at the minister’s office said. The visit would be preferably in the first quarter, the official said.
Algeria in recent years has accounted for around half of French soft wheat exports outside the European Union, and the share has been even greater so far in the 2018/19 season at about 80 percent. France has exported 1.75 million tonnes of wheat to Algeria since the start of the 2018/2019 season on July 1, according to Refinitiv Eikon data.