EU GRAIN market managers have decided to open a tender for granting export refunds for some 2m tonnes of wheat for sale to the world market.

Once the tender is up and running, it will be the first time refunds have been granted for wheat since June 2003.

“Export refunds are one of the tools the EU commission uses to manage the cereals market,” said a spokesman.

“They will allow EU exporters to be present on the market in the current exceptional circumstances.”

The EU had a very large wheat harvest in 2004 at 125m tonnes compared to 98m tonnes in 2003.

EU exporters are having increasing difficulties competing on the world market because of the recent fall in the value of the dollar – in which cereals prices are quoted – compared to the euro.

“The alternative would have been a rapid build-up in intervention stocks which could not be avoided because the EU is obliged to buy the quantities that are offered into intervention,” said the spokesman.

“This would have been considerably more expensive not least because these stocks cannot be disposed of in the foreseeable future.”

The commission insists that granting export refunds in no way lessens the EU‘s commitment in the ongoing Doha Development Round of WTO talks to phase out refunds, on condition that its trading partners follow suit.