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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Europe Pushes Ahead With Grain Barriers

PARIS -- European Commission officials are putting the final touches to a proposal designed to curb surging wheat imports from Russia and Ukraine by setting an annual wheat quota of almost 3 million tons, officials said Friday.

The draft shows that the EC is still aiming to launch import quotas for low-and medium-quality wheat, barley and malting barley on Jan. 1.

The EC has said it intends to bring in the new system at the start of the year and can put in place a temporary regime until the full regulations can be modified.

The draft document also details how the quotas would work in practice.

"In order to allow the opening of the quotas by Jan. 1, 2003, there is a need to depart from the [current] regulation for a transitory period that would expire when the changes to the regulation enter into force, at the latest on June 30, 2003," the document said.

Grain traders have imported huge amounts of wheat in recent months, mainly from Russia and Ukraine, in anticipation of the new quotas.

They have expressed doubts that the commission would be able to meet its January deadline.

The EU has already granted licenses to import more than 7 million tons of wheat since the beginning of the season, more than double the 3.03 million tons imported at the same time last year.

The proposals fall well short of Russian and Ukrainian expectations.

Russia has demanded an exclusive grain quota of up to 5 million tons, while Ukraine has requested at least 3 million tons.

Russia has threatened to slap tough curbs on meat imports next year -- a move that would have a serious impact on Europe's livestock industry.