November 6, 2019 / 7:20 PM / 3 months ago

UPDATE 1-Brazil implements tariff-free 750,000 tns/yr wheat import quota

(Updates with details of decision, context on potential suppliers)

SAO PAULO, Nov 6 (Reuters) - Brazil has put into effect a tariff-free import quota for 750,000 tonnes of wheat per year that is open to any country and has no end-date, the Agriculture Ministry said on Wednesday.

The zero-tariff wheat quota was announced in March when President Jair Bolsonaro visited the White House, much to the concern of traditional suppliers in Argentina, Brazil’s partner in the South American common market Mercosur. But it is only now that it has come into effect.

Industry group Abitrigo has said in the past the measure should mostly benefit producers in the United States, Canada and Russia.

Brazil, one of the world’s largest agricultural producers, is a net importer of wheat, since the cereal grows better in countries with temperate climates.

Brazil produces around 5 million tonnes of wheat per year, compared with total consumption near 12 million tonnes, which requires annual imports of close to 7 million tonnes.

Most of that volume comes from neighbor and Mercosur partner Argentina, who has for years benefited from zero import tax applied to the common market’s members.

The United States has been a regular wheat seller to Brazil, but on a much smaller scale than Argentina. Russian suppliers have also evaluated the market, having sent one or two ship-loads recently.

Abitrigo had said the measure was likely to be implemented early next year, so the publication this week comes earlier than expected.

It happens days after the election in Argentina of left-wing Peronist candidate Alberto Fernandez, who has been criticized by Brazil’s right-wing president Jair Bolsonaro. (Reporting by Gabriel Araujo Writing by Anthony Boadle and Marcelo Teixeira Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

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