Syria buys 100,000 tonnes Ukraine wheat

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A Syrian woman carries a sack of food as she walks past Free Syria Army fighters patrolling a street in the Old City of Aleppo. Photo – Marco Longari/AFP

Syria’s state-run General Establishment for Cereal Processing and Trade (Hoboob) announced on Monday it purchased 100,000 tonnes of soft wheat from a Middle Eastern trading firm despite reluctance by foreign banks, shipowners and grain traders to sell and transport grain to the war-torn country.

A Hoboob source told Reuters by phone that wheat was bought from Ukraine at €287 ($370) a tonne, on a cost and freight basis.

“The wheat was purchased from a Middle Eastern trading company,” he said.

Syria had on 17 September bought 100,000 tonnes of wheat from the international market. Traders had said that all four bids presented in that tender were from Lebanese trading firms and no international traders had participated.

This latest purchase, also from a Middle Eastern company, underlines the reluctance of international traders to participate in Syrian tenders.

Wheat is excluded from the Western sanctions imposed on Syria because of the government’s attempts to suppress the uprising.

But traders say difficulties in financing purchases have frozen Syria out of the international grains market and led to a series of small wheat deals over the past few months, often arranged by dealers in the Middle East and Asia.

Hoboob had issued the tender to purchase and import 100,000 tonnes of soft wheat of bread-making quality on 17 September, with shipment sought within two months from the opening of a letter of credit on the purchase.

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