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Russia to Decide on Duty-Free Regime for Grains Before April

Russia, the world’s third biggest wheat exporter last season, will decide on measures to cancel the country’s 5 percent import duty on grains before April.

“The decision will be made in the first quarter,” Aliya Samigullina, Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich’s spokeswoman, said by phone in Moscow today. Duty-free proposals from the ministries of agriculture and economy are being considered, she said.

The Agriculture Ministry wants the duty-free period to last until at least July 1, or mid-summer, while the Economy Ministry wants it to go until Aug. 1, she said. Last week, Dvorkovich expressed support for the Agriculture Ministry’s proposal, however a final decision still needs to be made, Samigullina said.

Crops in Russia were seared by drought this season and the country aims to increase domestic grain supplies by selling cereals from state stockpiles. Cutting the import duty on wheat, barley, rye and corn could be positive for the domestic market, Dvorkovich said last week.

Russia harvested 70.7 million metric tons of grain in 2012-13, or 25 percent less than a year earlier, according to state statistics data.

Wheat for March delivery dropped 0.6 percent to $7.515 a bushel on the Chicago Board of Trade by 1:26 p.m. Moscow time, and is down 3.4 percent this year.

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