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Russia: No ban on grain exports

08/31/2012 @ 7:04am

Russia's Agriculture Ministry slightly dialed back its grain harvest forecast Friday to between 70 million and 75 million metric tons, but ruled out the possibility of export limits while insisting it expects to be able sell 10 million to 14 million tons abroad.

The announcement sent European milling wheat prices tumbling after some traders had bet on Russia enacting export limitations.

"There are no export restrictions being planned. We believe this action would be harmful and inappropriate," Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich said following a meeting of the government's food security commission, according to the Interfax news agency.

Russia maintains grain reserves of roughly 17 million tons and given that domestic consumption is forecast at 72.7 million tons, has insisted there will be sufficient surplus for export.

"Domestic requirements will be covered 100%. There is an exportable surplus of 10-14 million tons," Agriculture Minister Nikolai Fyodorov said after the meeting.

Still, Mr. Fyodorov said Russia may engage in market interventions in specific regions later in the year.

The global grain market had been jittery for days in the run-up to the closely watched meeting to discuss how to cope with Russia's drought-plagued harvest. Russia had enacted a blanket export ban in 2010 following a particularly severe drought that cut the harvest to just 60.9 million tons.

After a record 94.2 million ton harvest in 2011, Russia has steadily reduced its 2012 forecast for grain as this summer wore on. It lowered its official target in late July to 80 million to 85 million tons. In early August it was reduced to 75 million to 80 million tons.

Then, just a week ago, the Ministry of Agriculture lowered its expectations to 75 million tons.

Write to Lukas I. Alpert at lukas.alpert@dowjones.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

August 31, 2012 06:23 ET (10:23 GMT)

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