DUBAI: Syria's state grain buyer Hoboob bought 200,000 tonnes of Russian wheat in its latest international purchasing tender, a government source said on Monday.
The wheat was bought at $255 a tonne, cost and freight, through Middle East companies, the source said. The price was considerably higher than Hoboob's previous purchase.
In its last reported tender on Sept. 19, the Syrian agency bought about 200,000 tonnes of Russian wheat at $224.50 a tonne C&F.
"First assessment is that the Syrian purchase is above levels other countries are paying," one European trader said.
Russian milling wheat was offered at prices ranging between $235 and $240 a tonne, C&F, in Egypt's recent state tender, he said.
"The Syrians did negotiate a long time in the tender, they did get offers but I think the mainstream players were absent."
Foodstuffs are not restricted by Western sanctions on the government, but banking sanctions and asset freezes have made it difficult for some trading houses to do business with Syria. Trade with ally Russia poses fewer problems.
According to Russian customs data, Russia supplied 146,600 tonnes of wheat to Syria in the year 2017-2018. It also supplied 34,400 tonnes in from July to September 2018.
Syria's wheat crop this year was the smallest in three decades as war and drought cut production by around 30 percent, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.
The fall implies the government needs to import over one million tonnes to feed the areas it controls.
In July, Syria's internal trade minister told Reuters his country would import around 1.5 million tonnes, mostly from Russia, to fill the gap between supply and demand.
Flat bread is a subsidised staple for Syrians, who have suffered under a conflict estimated to have killed several hundred thousand people and forced millions to flee their homes.