White House discusses duty-free grain imports

The Ministry of Economic Development has submitted a proposal to the government to lift the import duty on wheat, rye, barley and maize for the period up to 1 August 2013, said the Russian White House after a conference held on 1 February by Vice-Premier Arkady Dvorkovich. The aim of the initiative is to stabilise grain prices on the domestic market, which are now $100 per tonne higher than world prices. According to ProZerno, the asking price for third-class wheat in the Black Earth Zone is fluctuating between 11,100 and 11,600 roubles per tonne ex-works.

However, given the relatively low level of grain imports into the Russian Federation and the 5% rate of import duty on grain, it should not be expected that lifting the duty will have a marked effect. Thus on 31 January, Agriculture Minister Nikolai Fyodorov noted: “This won’t have a marked effect on the market. We could lift it, but not everyone would approve of this approach.” “Lifting the duty won’t have a big influence on the market situation,” agreed Andrei Klepach, deputy head of the Ministry of Economic Development.

He reckons, however, that “nevertheless, this decision will put a brake on price rises,” explaining that the final decision on lifting the duty will depend on the level of imports. The Ministry of Agriculture estimates that imports in the agricultural year 2012–2013 could amount to 1.2 million tonnes.

Full article in Russian was published in Kommersant.

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