Egyptian man carries bread, at the vegetable market in Cairo, Egypt, October 2, 2017. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany
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Traders say the new system has backfired as inspectors are now rejecting cargoes at Egyptian ports on arbitrary and unpredictable grounds.Getting cargoes passed under the old system often came down to keeping government inspectors comfortable, traders said.When a $6 million wheat cargo at a port in Ukraine suddenly stopped loading two years ago, its agent found Egyptian inspectors had halted the process because their hotel would not give them a late breakfast, traders said. Six other traders described the system in similar terms, saying shopping for electronics and clothes, expensive dinners, and hotel room upgrades were the cost of keeping their grains moving out of ports from Odessa to Dunkirk.One trader said the money paid to inspectors could equal their annual salary.A group of traders, including Soliman, persuaded the government to ban traveling delegations, which Egypt did in a prime ministerial decree in late 2016 that handed inspections abroad to private companies and made the agriculture quarantine inspectors subject to the oversight of a Trade Ministry authority.Since January, when the new inspection regime came online, inspectors in Egypt have subjected nearly all shipments to costly processes before being approved at Egyptian ports, which add tens of thousands of dollars in costs.
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