RABAT - Morocco's government council announced on Thursday it would cut customs duties on soft wheat to 30 percent from November 1 from 135 percent, backtracking on a previous announcement to abolish the duty altogether.
The duty "will help maintain the import price of soft wheat at 260 dirhams per quintal," the government council said in a statement.
The agriculture ministry had announced on October 1 that Morocco would cancel customs duties to ensure regular supply, avert price hikes in the domestic market and help farmers better plan reserves.
The ministry also reported a slow pace in the collection of the local harvest up to October.
Morocco announced a 135 percent customs duty in May following an exceptional cereals output this year of 10.3 million tonnes, including 4.91 million tonnes of soft wheat, 2.42 million tonnes of hard wheat and 2.92 of barley.
French wheat exporters estimated Morocco's import needs of soft wheat at 3 million tonnes in the 2018/19 season.
On October 1, Morocco's wheat reserves covered 4.3 months of the needs of local mills, the agricultural ministry said.
Wheat supply is key to Morocco's stability as bread and semolina are staples for the population of about 35 million.
Morocco subsidies soft wheat prices along with sugar and cooking gas.
(Reporting by Ahmed Eljechtimi Editing by Alexandra Hudson) ((firstname.lastname@example.org;))