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Canada signs major grain deal with Soviets

Canada will supply a large chunk of the Soviet Union's grain needs for the next five years under a long-term agreement announced here May 26. The $4 billion deal involves the sale of a minimum of 25 million metric tons of wheat and feed grains to the USSR before July 1986. Soviet import requirements total between 25 million and 30 million tons annually.

The average annual level of sales under the contract is about equal to the 5 million metric tons Canada has been selling the USSR in recent peak export years. But it is the first multi-year year contract signed by the two countries since 1969. The contract appears to be part of an effort by the USSR to land secure supplies of wheat in the wake of the grain embargo imposed by the US after Soviet troops invaded Afghanistan.

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The deal with Canada may put the Soviets in an improved bargaining position in its discussions with US officials over a long-term US grain contract that expires in September. The US has been supplying between 6 million and 8 million metric tons of grain annually to the Soviet Union.

This year, Canada is expected to sell 6 million tons of grain to the Soviet Union. Of that total, 2.1 million is derived from a contract signed with the USSR last November following Canada's decision to drop its support for the US-led boyc ott.

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