Anti-dumping moves will jack up fertiliser cost
By FW reporters
IMPORTED fertiliser prices are set to jump, with the EU about to tighten its anti-dumping measures.
Farmers fear domestic makers will take this chance to raise prices.
The minimum import price, introduced in 1995, is to be replaced by a new system, provisionally agreed in Brussels last week.
Russian ammonium nitrate will, within a few weeks, be subject to a £19/t duty (at current rates) plus a 6.8% import tax, prompting predictions of a £10-£20/t price hike.
With almost half of the 1m tonnes of imported AN coming from Russia, the move follows complaints that the current system has been ineffective. "The MIP has been difficult to police and is open to abuse," says Gary White, Dalgetys national fertiliser manager. He reckons on-farm import values will jump to about £100/t.
Other eastern European producers are likely to lift prices too. "The combined effect will allow UK makers to raise prices up to £115/t and retain the same differential."
With much product still to be placed this season, Mr White says farmers should order soon to beat the price hike and avoid delivery problems. "Huge logistical problems are looming. There are fewer lorries licensed to haul AN, and that could be further hampered by plant breakdowns, bad weather and shipping problems."
Hydro Agris chairman, Tony Robinson, denies manufacturers will see this as an opportunity to turn the screw on farmers. "We do not want to capitalise on the situation, we just want fair trade and a level playing field."
Hydro are pitching delivered AN at about £105-£110/t, expecting an end-of-season level of £115/t.
Terra Nitrogens commercial manager, Stuart Beer, reckons much trading remains to be done, with farmers between 12% and 15% less committed at Christmas than a year earlier. The duty will put a floor in the market, he says. "But imports are not going to go away. Polish and Bulgarian product have been undercutting Russian supplies."
Barry Higgs, director general of the Fertiliser Manufacturers Association, welcomed the move. "It should see off the cowboys, discouraging the speculative trading at the bottom end of the market."
Importers, meanwhile, attacked the change, dubbing it bad news for farmers at a time of falling profitability. *
Gary White: Huge logistical problems are looming.