Morocco's Attijariwafa Bank to finance $300 mln of Russian wheat imports

RABAT, June 12 Thu Jun 12, 2014 8:40am EDT

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RABAT, June 12 (Reuters) - Morocco's Attijariwafa Bank , one of the three major banks in the North African country, has signed a deal with Moroccan wheat trade federation FIAC to finance $300 million of Russian wheat imports in the 2014-2015 season.

The deal was signed in Moscow when the Moroccan bank's managers attended a Morocco-Russia economic forum on June 10, it said on Thursday. Two trading companies, Louis Dreyfus Vostok and Glencore Grain, took part of the deal, it added.

Morocco, like other North African countries, depends on imports of staple cereals. It is expected to buy around 2.5 million tonnes of foreign wheat in the 2013-2014 marketing year.

"It is a contractual framework under which Moroccan importers would buy the equivalent of $300 million of Russian wheat in the 2014-2015 season," Attijariwafa said in a statement.

Morocco's import campaign typically runs from October to May when the local harvest starts. But millers and wheat importers have asked the government to establish a longer window for imports, which could be a disadvantage for its main supplier, France, in the face of growing competition from Russia and Ukraine.

Black Sea countries such as Russia tend to dominate wheat exports at the start of the international marketing year, which begins in July, as they offload large volumes at often attractive prices.

The Moroccan government is yet to decide on a longer import window.

"We are able now to satisfy the most part of the Moroccan demand. It is a win-win agreement," FIAC president Chakib Alj was quoted as saying in Attijariwafa's statement.

Morocco expects a cereal harvest this year of 6.7 million tonnes, including 3.7 million tonnes of soft wheat, down from 9.7 million tonnes in 2013. (Reporting by Aziz El Yaakoubi; Editing by Mark Potter)

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