Jordan sees major fall in tenders for grain imports
Jordan's tougher grain tender terms have disrupted the country's supply chain for importing wheat, potentially putting centralised stocks under strain as international suppliers shy away from higher risks and costs.
The changes, introduced early this year with the intention of raising food quality standards, have in recent months become a focal point for a tussle between several government agencies and international suppliers.
International suppliers complain of tougher inspections before cargoes are discharged from the port of Aqaba and tender terms that include higher penalties for contract violations that raise both costs and risks.
"Nobody is going to bid as long as the tender terms remain so exorbitant and the inspections so arbitrary. No miller anywhere in the world treats their suppliers like they do," one European trader told Reuters.
Although Jordan has bought some wheat in recent months to meet its 85,000 tonnes of monthly consumption, purchases were not taking place with the usual frequency, local traders said. Jordan had to cancel at least eight tenders this year due to a lack of offers.
The country has been forced to buy wheat from the only bidder who made an offer in one tender, a move that has rarely happened before and last week it cancelled a tender to buy 100,000 tonnes of wheat for the second time after a lack of bids.
Some officials have reportedly told Reuters that they see the lack of bids as an attempt to put pressure on the authorities to back away from the tighter tender terms. Jordan’s Ministry of Trade and Industry, which is the sole buyer of the country's grain imports, has bought 650,000 tonnes of wheat so far this year.
There are seven 50,000-tonne wheat cargoes expected to arrive by the end of January, while another 250,000 tonnes of wheat are already in state silos.