Commission to propose suspension of import duties

Brussels / BE. (eu) Mariann Fischer Boel, Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, announced that she will propose in the coming days the total suspension of cereal import duties for the current marketing year – which ends on June 30, 2008 – unless market conditions justify their reintroduction before that date. The proposal, which was put to EU agriculture ministers, is a reaction to the exceptionally tight situation on the cereals markets and the record price levels.

Although the actual levels of border protection for cereals are rather low, import duties are still applied for certain types of grains that are relevant for the balance of the EU market. At the same time, there are no export refunds on cereal exports. The proposal would have to be approved by the Council of Ministers.

The cereals market is currently characterised by historically high prices. The 2007 cereals crop is now estimated below last year´s level because of dry and unusually hot weather in April followed by adverse summer weather in western Member States and drought and heat-waves in the Southeast of Europe. This outlook is likely to lead to a further reduction in the EU of private cereal stocks by the end of the 2007/2008 marketing year. At global level, closing stocks in 2007/2008 are expected to fall to a historically low level, especially in the major exporting countries (full text).