Egypt oranges

The Egyptian government has announced that it will hold talks with Russia to defuse the current trade dispute between the countries, which represents a grave threat to the start of the Egyptian citrus season.

In response to Cairo’s rejection of a 60,000-tonne wheat shipment from Russia due to issues with ergot fungus, Russia announced a temporary suspension of imports of fruit and vegetables from Egypt beginning on 22 September.

Russia's food safety watchdog Rosselkhoznadzor did not disclose a full list of products that could be banned. But it did raise concerns of a 'systematic breach of international and phytosanitary requirements' in 'massive supplies' of Egyptian citrus destined for Russia, according to Reuters.

Russia imported around US$150m of Egyptian citrus in 2015, approximately 13 per cent of its total citrus imports.

Egypt’s minister of trade and industry, Tareq Qabil, said that a delegation including representatives of relevant bodies would visit Russia at the end of September to discuss the issue.

Just last month Egypt, which is the world's top importer of wheat, toughened its stance on imports bearing traces of ergot, a common fungus.

However, one official from the Russian ministry of agriculture, Vladimir Volik, accused Cairo of 'haggling' on the eve of a bumper wheat harvest for Russia.

The dispute is a further blow to relations between the countries. Flights to Egypt are yet to resume after Russia suspended them following the explosion of a Russian passenger jet over the Sinai desert last October.