Morocco Sees Rising Soft Wheat Imports After Duty Scrapped

Morocco, North Africa’s third- largest wheat buyer, forecast rising imports of the grain and improving stockpiles after customs duties on soft wheat were scrapped at the start of the month.

Stocks of wheat, barley and corn totaled 2.19 million metric tons at the end of September, stable from a year earlier, state grain buyer ONICL wrote in an online report. Soft-wheat stocks were 1.69 million tons, it said.

Grain imports rose to 1.07 million tons between June 1 and the end of September from 590,000 tons in the year-earlier period, according to Rabat, Morocco-based ONICL. Morocco’s soft- wheat harvest (ALHVS) plunged 34 percent to 2.74 million tons this year from 4.17 million tons in 2011 after dry weather hurt crops, increasing the need for imports.

“Soft wheat imports are expected during the month of October after the suspension of the customs duties,” ONICL wrote. “This stock level should improve.”

Imports of soft wheat in the 2012-13 market year stood at 20,000 tons at the end of September from zero a year earlier. The grain was imported from Brazil, according to ONICL. Morocco shipped in 180,000 tons of durum wheat at the end of last month from zero at the end of September 2011, with the grain supplied by Canada.

Egypt is the north African region’s largest wheat buyer, followed by Algeria and Morocco, according to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Barley imports stood at 70,000 tons, with 60,000 tons sourced from France, according to ONICL. That’s down from 90,000 tons imported at the same time a year ago.

Morocco’s corn imports at the end of September totaled 800,000 tons from 500,000 tons a year earlier. Brazil was the largest supplier with 480,000 tons, followed by Argentina with 300,000 tons and France with 20,000 tons, the ONICL data show.

“With regards to corn, two countries continue to share the Moroccan market, Brazil with 60 percent and Argentina with 37 percent,” ONICL wrote.

The country’s durum wheat stocks were 130,000 tons at the end of last month, barley inventories were 180,000 tons and corn stockpiles 200,000 tons, the state grain office said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Rudy Ruitenberg in Paris at rruitenberg@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Claudia Carpenter at ccarpenter2@bloomberg.net

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