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Morocco Plans to Suspend Soft-Wheat Import Duties as of Oct. 1

Sept. 21 (Bloomberg) -- Morocco, North Africa’s third-largest wheat buyer, will suspend import duties on soft wheat as of Oct. 1, the Agriculture Ministry said.

Wheat imports starting next month should for a large part be used for blending with local grain in the final months of 2012, and will serve to keep stocks at “a comfortable level,” the ministry wrote in an online statement dated yesterday.

Morocco typically taxes soft wheat imports as of June 1 to help local farmers sell their crop to the country’s millers, before lowering or lifting the duties as the season progresses and local supplies run out. This year’s soft-wheat harvest fell to 2.7 million metric tons from 4.2 million tons in 2011, state grain buyer ONICL and the ministry reported last month.

“The suspension of customs duties on soft-wheat imports comes in a global economy characterized by the surge in global cereal prices,” the ministry wrote.

Morocco will also introduce import restitutions next month to make up the difference between the cost for buying wheat in international markets and a government target price, aimed at keeping the price of flour at the same level, the ministry said.

Milling wheat futures have climbed 34 percent on NYSE Liffe in Paris since the start of the year to 262.50 euros ($341.67) a ton on concern drought in Russia and Ukraine will reduce availability.

Morocco’s wheat imports are forecast to jump to 5.1 million tons in the 2012-13 season from 3.4 million tons a year earlier, the International Grains Council forecasts.

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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