Suspension of Moroccan durum tariff may boost sales

Morocco is temporarily suspending import duties on durum, which could open the door for more export opportunities for Canada, a major supplier.

Morocco’s ministry of economy and finance recently announced on its website that all duties on durum imports will be suspended from Oct. 1 through Dec. 31 this year. Duties on soft wheat will also be suspended from Nov. 15 to Dec. 31.

The import tariff on durum was 80 per cent, while the soft wheat tariff was 135 per cent.

Quality problems with Morocco’s own crop, along with concerns over volatile international prices, were behind the move to suspend the duties, according to the Moroccan government.

Morocco, Canada’s second largest customer for durum wheat after Italy, imported 597,600 tonnes in 2010-11, according to Canadian Grain Commission data.

Looking at the overall market, the lack of tariffs will help boost the demand for durum from Morocco, said Bruce Burnett, director of weather and market analysis with the Canadian Wheat Board.

However, “whether or not Canada gets all, or little, of that (increased demand) is left to be seen,” he added. 

Canada did have a better quality durum crop than the U.S. this year, which should bode well for Canadian exports, said Burnett.

In addition, even if Canada misses out on some of the potential Moroccan business, the resulting strength in the global market should help with opportunities elsewhere.

Morocco has lifted import tariffs in the past, as recently as a year ago, said Burnett. The country typically has a large tariff in place during its own harvest to protect the local market, and then reduces the rates after that, he said.

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