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Senior Egyptian Minister to visit Australia.



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DAFF04/107WT - 5 May 2004

Senior Egyptian Minister to visit Australia

The Egyptian Minister for Supply and Internal Trade, Dr Hassan Khedr, will visit Australia next week to discuss long-term supply arrangements for Australian wheat to Egypt, Australian Minister for Agriculture Warren Truss announced today.

Mr Truss said he was optimistic that Dr Khedr's visit could lead to a substantial long-term agreement for Australia to supply wheat to Egypt.

Work on the agreement comes as Australian wheat sales to Egypt are heading toward a record for the 2004 marketing year - having already passed 2 million tonnes.

"I am enthusiastic about the potential of Australia's grain trade with Egypt," Mr Truss said.

"This country could become our biggest market for wheat this year, and a long-term agreement would provide stable trade with Egypt and security for Australian wheat farmers."

Mr Truss extended an invitation to Mr Khedr to visit Australia during meetings in Egypt in recent days.

Mr Truss is on a 12-day mission to the Middle East to secure future agricultural trading opportunities for Australian farmers. During his visit, he has held high-level meetings with Egyptian Government Ministers including Dr Khedr, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Agriculture and Land Reclamation, Dr Youssef Wali, the Minister of Foreign Trade, Dr Youssef Boutros Ghali, and officials to discuss a range of agricultural trade issues.

Mr Truss also visited the site of a proposed new grain handling and storage facility at Sokhna Port on the Gulf of Suez in the Red Sea.

"The new port, which is currently under construction, is an important strategic investment for Egypt and will see it become a major trading hub for the region," Mr Truss said.

"Egypt is one of Australia's longest held customers and one of the world's biggest wheat importers, and has now expressed interest in Australian barley and pulses as well.

"After drifting out of the market over recent years, Egypt has returned to Australia for some of its wheat purchase. This year's sales will provide more than $500 million to Australian wheat growers."

Egypt is one of the world largest wheat purchasers, importing about 6 to 7 million tonnes of wheat annually, and its emergence as Australia's largest market this year reflects the high quality of Australian wheat in meeting Egypt's demand for bright white bread-making flour. Egypt is also now developing a demand for harder, higher protein wheat types, with about a quarter, or 500,000 tonnes, of our wheat sales to Egypt falling into this

category.

Further media inquiries:

Minister Truss' office: Tim Langmead - 02 6277 7520 or 0418 221 433

http://www.affa.gov.au/ministers/truss/releases/04/04107WT.html

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