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International Grains Council has meeting in Paris

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Dry Bulk,

Members of the International Grains Council (IGC) convened for the 48th Council Session in Paris, on 4 December 2018. Philippe Duclos, Deputy Director for economic and environmental performance of business, Ministry of Agriculture and Food, Paris, gave a welcoming address. The meeting was chaired by Shuichi Akamatsu, Minister, Embassy of Japan, London who thanked the French Minister of Agriculture, Didier Guillaume for hosting the 48th Council Session.

The latest supply and demand outlook and market developments for grains, rice and oilseeds were assessed, while recent changes in national policies and administrative matters were considered. At a three-year low of 2079 million t, world total grains (wheat and coarse grains) production was forecast to be down by 24 million y/y, as an improved maize harvest was seen being outweighed by reductions for other crops. As grains production was again expected to be outstripped by demand, a second consecutive season of world stock depletion was envisaged. Global trade was predicted to stay strong, including record shipments of maize and barley.

The Council’s first projection for all-wheat harvested area in 2019/20 was for a rise of about 1%, the first increase in four seasons. Although gains were anticipated in the EU, Russia, the US and India, inclement weather in the early part of the season was of some concern.

Global rice production in 2018/19 was projected broadly steady y/y, at 491 million t, as a likely policy-driven fall in China was expected to be offset by increases elsewhere in Asia. With consumption seen rising to a new high, carryover stocks were expected to tighten, including in China. Trade was anticipated at a record, including larger deliveries to Africa.

With bigger or record crops in key producers, world soyabean output in 2018/19 was forecast to be up by 8% y/y, to a peak of 367 million t. Despite an expected slowdown in China, global consumption growth was likely to quicken on notable gains elsewhere. Tied to accumulation in the USA, world inventories were predicted to expand by some 30%, to a high of 51 million t. Reflecting the trade dispute with the US, shipments to China were projected to fall by 5%, but would be offset by bigger deliveries to other markets, leaving world trade unchanged y/y.

The IGC Grains and Oilseeds Index (GOI) was little changed y/y. Tighter supply outlooks were helping to keep average wheat, maize and barley export prices above year earlier levels. However, in a period of volatile movements, soyabean values were sharply down, led by a drop in the US, where quotations were pressured by heavy supplies and subdued exports. World markets for white and parboiled rice were modestly weaker on generally comfortable availabilities and sluggish international demand. The Council noted mixed trends in global freight markets, with a 24% y/y drop in the Baltic Dry Index due to capesize losses, but a 12% rise in the IGC Grains and Oilseeds Freight Index.

The Secretariat provided an update on developments in the freight market and presented a new member website tool for the calculation of daily grains and oilseeds cost and freight (c&f) prices for more than 120 routes. Members approved the organisation of a joint seminar with GAFTA on Africa in January 2019, and to the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the IGC and the International Grain Trade Coalition (IGTC).

Gary Martin, President of the IGTC, provided an update on current developments in policy and trade practice. The Council received statements from the OECD and WTO on recent developments, and welcomed representatives from FAO, GEOGLAM and WFP. The Council also welcomed the participation of Brazil and Taipei (Chinese) Separate Customs Territory as observers.

On 5 December, delegates will attend a seminar organised by FranceAgriMer titled ‘Bioeconomy, an innovative way to add value to grains’ and will also visit the Pomacle-Bozancourt biorefinery in Reims (France).

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