By FWi staff

AFTER weeks of apparent reluctance, European Union officials have finally given the green light to a significant amount of grain exports.

The EU Cereals Management Committee meeting in Brussels yesterday granted a special award for the export of 250,000 tonnes of barley from Spain.

The EU is under mounting pressure to reduce its own grain surplus before this seasons harvest adds to existing stocks. But it is reluctant to undercut US export prices for fear that it could result in a trade war.

Bids received yesterday from various countries to export free-market wheat were rejected. The committee accepted a German bid to export 50,163 tonnes of intervention wheat at a minimum selling price of Ecu 96.36/ tonne.

The committee also accepted bids for the export of 34,000 tonnes of free-market barley at a maximum refund of Ecu 45/ tonne. A German bid to export intervention barley failed.

But committee officials rubber-stamped another German proposal to sell 1,812 of intervention rye at a minimum selling price of Ecu 49/ tonne. Austria was granted the go-ahead to export 39,986 tonnes of intervention maize at a minimum of Ecu 88.30/ tonne.

Analysts at the Home-Grown Cereals Authority warned that the EU export campaign still needs to pick up if it is to reach its annual target of 15m tonnes.