Canada wheat exports may gain from US-Brazil spat

Tue Mar 9, 2010 1:18pm EST
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By Rod Nickel

WINNIPEG, Manitoba (Reuters) - Canadian wheat exports stand to gain from Brazil's move to triple non-hard wheat tariffs against the United States, a Canadian Wheat Board official said on Tuesday.

The Brazilian government published on Monday a list of U.S. goods subject to import tariffs that will go into effect in 30 days in retaliation to U.S. cotton subsidies. Tariffs on U.S. non-hard wheat would rise to 30 percent, from 10 percent.

That leaves Canada, the world's No. 6 wheat producer, with an export opportunity, said Bruce Burnett, director of weather and market analysis at the Wheat Board, which has a monopoly on marketing Western Canada's wheat and malting barley.

"Certainly in a year like this year when the wheat market is very competitive, it would be nice to have an advantage into that marketplace," Burnett said in an interview with Reuters.

How much of an opportunity Canada has depends on when Brazil's higher wheat tariff takes effect, Burnett said. Brazil's government said there is still time for a negotiated solution with the United States.

Brazil's offshore wheat demand fluctuates widely from year to year, depending on the size of its domestic crop and that of other South American countries such as Argentina that are part of the regional trade agreement Mercosur.

Big South American crops of corn and soybeans are expected to be harvested, but Argentina's wheat crop is small, Burnett said.

Brazilian mills are concerned about the small volume of wheat available, which will keep Argentine wheat prices high, said a wheat trader in Sao Paulo.   Continued...

<p>The last stands of wheat remain before being harvested by the Sawyer family near Acme, Alberta, September 23, 2009 file photo. REUTERS/Todd Korol</p>