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North Africa Projected to Be Top Wheat Importing Region

14.08.2020 12:25 "Agro Perspectiva" (Kyiv) According to the report of the USDA Grain: World Markets and Trade (August 2020), North Africa is poised to become the worlds leading wheat importing region for the first time in 3 years. Growing demand and reduced production is expected to push imports for the region to a record. Egypt, the worlds leading buyer, is projected to import a robust 13.0 million tons in 2020/21, down slightly from 2019/20, which was a record partly due to government stockpiling during the COVID-19 pandemic. Algeria, the worlds fourth largest importer, is forecast to import 7.0 million tons with continued growth in demand and flat production.

Morocco is projected up significantly to a record 6.2 million tons as its crop has been ravaged by drought and the government is allowing duty-free wheat imports through the end of 2020. It is worth noting that Moroccos imports at the end of 2019/20 were also large in anticipation of tighter new-crop supplies. Imports for Tunisia and Libya are expected to be nearly unchanged.

Historically, the Middle East and North Africa were the top importing regions, but this dominance waned significantly in the last decade as imports by Southeast

Asia and Sub-Sahara Africa rose substantially. In the last few years, the major wheat importing regions have ebbed and flowed in terms of importance

depending on market conditions. For instance, Southeast Asia briefly became the worlds leading import region in 2018/19, but has since lost that position

as demand there has flattened with lower feed use roughly offsetting stronger milling demand. The Middle East was the worlds leading importer in 2019/20 as

tightening supplies led to massive purchases for Turkey and Iran. Now, markets have shifted, and North Africa is once again the top importing region.

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