Egypt seeks to resolve trade dispute with Russia
CAIRO - Egypt announced Sunday it will hold talks with Russia to try to resolve a trade dispute over agricultural produce that has strained their relations.
Moscow has accused Cairo, the largest export market for Russian cereals, of "haggling" as a marketing strategy by halting wheat imports from Russia on health grounds.
In response, Russia has suspended imports of citrus fruits from Egypt starting on September 22.
"A high-level committee has been formed... to negotiate with the Russian side, represented by the embassy... on issues of quarantine," Egypt's agriculture ministry said on its website.
"A meeting will be held with Russia's ambassador to Cairo to study issues to be resolved to lift any obstacles," it said in a statement which praised the level of relations with Moscow.
Egypt, the world's top importer of wheat, at the end of August toughened its stand against the presence of any trace of ergo, a common fungus, in its imports and has since suspended consignments from Russia.
A senior Russian agriculture ministry official, Vladimir Volik, on Wednesday accused Cairo of "haggling" at a time when Russia is primed for a bumper harvest of wheat.
Russian sanitary officials two days later slapped the ban on citrus fruits from Egypt on sanitary grounds.
Egyptian citrus fruit exports to Russia are worth hundreds of millions of dollars a year and have been on the rise since Moscow slapped an embargo on a number of fruit and vegetable imports from Turkey.