Russia approves higher wheat export tax from March 1

MOSCOW, Jan 26 (Reuters) - The Russian government has formally approved a proposal to impose a higher export tax on wheat from March 1, it said on Tuesday, in another push to curb a rise in domestic food prices triggered by the COVID-19 crisis.

Russia is one of the world’s largest wheat exporters. Global wheat prices jumped after the proposal to raise the tax was first announced by Russian officials earlier in January on expectations that it could make buyers prefer wheat from other countries.

The government approved a 50 euro ($61) per tonne wheat export tax starting from March 1 to June 30 compared to the 25 euro-per-tonne tax set for Feb. 15 to March 1. A barley and corn export tax is set at 10 euro/t and 25 euro/t, respectively, from March 15 to June 30.

The move tightens up measures to stabilise grain prices initiated by the government in December. Prices on the domestic grain market are under pressure from global prices which are rising, Deputy Economy Minister, Vladimir Ilyichyov said in a statement.

Moscow will continue monitoring the situation and is ready to further adjust the mechanism for grain export regulation if necessary, he said.

“At the same time, we hope that in the near future the price situation will stabilise and we will be able to switch to a permanent export duty mechanism,” Ilyichyov added.

Moscow will continue taxing wheat exports in the new marketing season that starts on July 1 and will prepare a formula for that, instead of the current fixed tariff, officials have said. ($1 = 0.8218 euros) (Reporting by Darya Korsunskaya and Polina Devitt; writing by Polina Devitt; editing by Andrew Osborn)