Saudi caps profit margins for barley importers
Riyadh, August 26, 2010
Saudi Arabia, the world's largest buyer of barley, has capped profit margins for importers of the grain and threatened to sanction violators and hoarders after a sharp rise in red meat prices.
The commerce and industry ministry said in a statement on Wednesday, due to unspecified 'exceptional conditions', it has capped barley importers' profit margins at 5 per cent and applied a margin of SR80 ($21.33) per tonne for traders. The margins apply after the deduction of a state subsidy and shipment unloading costs.
'The ministry is trying to mitigate additional price hikes on cereals. Barley is a big component of the grains import bill and goes mostly to feeding livestock,' said John Sfakianakis, chief economist at Banque Saudi Fransi.
Importers who violate the new regulations will be ineligible for state subsidies and their import licence will be suspended for at least six months. Trading violations will also result in a six-month suspension.
A private Saudi grains importer said: 'The rise in barley prices has led to a rise in red meat prices but this is not due just to a seasonal surge in demand for red meat but also to concerns about stability of global commodity prices.’ – Reuters