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Russian ag minister sees no need for wheat export duty, for now

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Grain storage at a Russian seaport. (Pridannikov/iStock/Getty Images)

Moscow | Reuters — Russia’s agriculture minister sees no reason for now to introduce an export duty on wheat and is not considering one, he was quoted as saying by RIA news agency on Tuesday.

A meeting at the agriculture ministry on Friday fuelled speculation among traders that Russia could consider grain export curbs once exports reach 30 million tonnes in the 2018-19 marketing season that began on July 1. The ministry denied export limits were discussed.

“So far there is no basis for the introduction of a grain export duty. The current price is not extraordinary,” Dmitry Patrushev told reporters in Russia’s central city of Vladimir.

“I repeat it again, the introduction of grain export duty is not planned so far.”

Speculation about potential export limits in Russia, the world’s biggest wheat exporter, pushed global wheat prices sharply higher last week, adding to worries about tightening global supplies after lower crops in several producing regions.

Russian exporters may step up grain shipments in the next few months in anticipation the government could put curbs on exports sometime after December, traders said on Monday.

Earlier on Tuesday, the agriculture ministry said it had upgraded its forecast for the country’s 2018 grain crop to 100-105 million tonnes from a previously expected 100 million tonnes.

That would be lower than a record harvest of 135 million tonnes of grain in 2017, but still large compared with the average of recent years.

“Despite unfavourable weather conditions, the crop will be higher than the average level of the last 10 years,” Patrushev said in a statement.

“We currently expect the crop at up to 105 million tonnes. Such a result would allow the country to fully cover its needs in grain and also to send a significant amount of grains for export,” he added.

The agriculture ministry sees Russia’s wheat exports totalling 35 million tonnes in the 2018-19 season.

In July 1-Aug. 15, Russia exported 6.8 million tonnes of grain, up 46 per cent year on year due to an earlier start of the 2018 grain harvest. That included 5.5 million tonnes of wheat.

— Reporting for Reuters by Polina Devitt.

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