24 November 1995

Export tax just talk

TALK of an export tax on grain sold outside the EU looks set to remain just that – talk.

The first round of "bids" held in Brussels last week saw traders offering to pay just 1ecu/t (86p/t) tax on a meagre 1500t of wheat.

As expected, the commission turned this down, refusing to allow any exports at these levels. Another tender held yesterday (Thursday) was expected to produce a similar response.

As such, sales outside the community will remain limited until the new year at least, as the EC continues to try to keep a lid on internal prices.

But the justification for an export tax is waning anyway, with US wheat becoming more competitive against EU supplies. Home-Grown Cereals Authority figures put US soft red winter wheat at £127.20/t, loaded on a vessel, compared with £131.50 for UK grain.

And though ex-farm prices slipped a bit this week, values are still above those which would encourage fresh export business, according to Tim Pollock of north east co-op, Tynegrain. &#42