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Thu 21 Feb 2008 02:23 PM

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Egypt's rice export limits break down

Attempt by Egypt to restrict rice shipments breaks down as government approves 485,000 tonnes.

An attempt by Egypt to restrict rice exports has broken down and the government has approved the export of 485,000 tonnes since February 12, newspaper Al Yom Al Yom said on Thursday.

The US Department of Agriculture said in January Egypt would ban rice exports indefinitely from Jauary 19 to hold down prices on the local market. But the Egyptian Agricultural Products Export Council said the ban was voluntary.

"Some companies have adhered to it and others have not," one council official said on Thursday.

Al Alam Al Yom said Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif had approved rice exports to the amount of 500,000 tonnes. Nazif's spokesman was not immediately available to comment on the report.

Egypt is usually a major exporter of medium and short-grain rice, with annual exports of about 1 million tonnes, mostly to Middle Eastern countries. It imports long-grain rice from Asia.

The retail price of local rice in Egypt has risen by up to 30% in the last few months, to between 2.75 and 3.50 Egyptian pounds a kg (between 23 and 29 US cents a lb), consumers said on Thursday. (Reuters)