(Adds comment, additional offers including shipping costs)
By Maha El Dahan and Michael Hogan
DUBAI, Nov 16 (Reuters) - Only six suppliers presented offers to Egypt’s state grain buyer, the General Authority for Supply Commodities (GASC), for its international wheat purchase tender, traders said on Thursday.
Several major trading houses were absent with dealers saying uncertainty about whether shipments will again be rejected because of Egypt’s food safety inspection system.
The tender is taking place two days after an Egyptian court reinstated a ban on wheat imports containing the common ergot fungus, renewing uncertainty over a policy that has disrupted trade.
Egypt’s agriculture ministry has said that business will take place as usual until clear directions come from the country’s cabinet pertaining to the court order.
The world’s largest wheat buyer stunned grain markets last year when it imposed a zero-tolerance level on ergot, prompting a supplier boycott of state tenders until Egypt adopted a tolerance of 0.05 percent, a common international standard.
Tuesday’s court ruling cancelled that decree, according to a lawyer that raised the case.
Italian trading house Casillo said it was not participating in the GASC tender today.
Jean Philippe Everling, CEO of Casillo’s French subsidiary TransGrain, said concern about ergot was a factor along with delayed payments and continued uncertainty about cargoes being rejected because they contained poppy seeds.
“A lot of ships were unexpectedly rejected by Egypt because of the sudden ban on ergot which caused heavy losses to the trading houses involved,” one trader said. “The court case has again created the impression of new risk in selling wheat to Egypt. People are waiting for a clearer picture.”
The lowest offer on Thursday was from GTCS at $194.55 a tonne free on board (FOB) for 55,000 tonnes of Russian wheat, traders said.
Traders said the following offers were made in dollars per tonne FOB:
* GTCS: 55,000 tonnes of Russian wheat at $194.55, 60,000 tonnes of Russian wheat at $195, 60,000 tonnes of Russian wheat at $195.
* Daewoo: 60,000 tonnes of Russian wheat at $194.99.
* Garant Logistics: 60,000 tonnes of Russian wheat at $195.
* Union: 60,000 tonnes of Russian wheat at $195.50, 55,000 tonnes of Russian wheat at $195.55.
* Alegrow: 60,000 tonnes of Russian wheat at $197.12.
* Cofco: 60,000 tonnes of Romanian wheat at $203.99.
Traders said these were the c&f offers in the tender including ocean freight (shipping) costs from the respective port:
* GTCS: 55,000 tonnes at $194.55 plus $14.50 total $209.05 Tuapse port
* Daewoo: 60,000 tonnes at $194.99 plus $14.80 total $209.79 Novorossiysk port
* Garant: 60,000 tonnes at $195.00 plus $14.80 total $209.80 Novorossiysk port
* GTCS: 60,000 tonnes at $195.00 plus $14.80 total $209.80 Novorossiysk port
* Union: 60,000 tonnes at $195.50 plus $14.50 total $210.00 Novorossiysk port
Reporting by Maha El Dahan and Michael Hogan, additional reporting by Valerie Parent; editing by David Goodman and Jason Neely