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Russia will boost transport subsidies to speed grain exports in 2018

MOSCOW, Dec 7 (Reuters) - Russia will spend 2 billion
roubles ($34 million) in grain transportation subsidies to help
to speed exports in 2018, the Deputy Agriculture Minister said
on Thursday.

Already among the world's largest wheat exporters, Russia is
trying to step up a gear after this year's record crop, which is
keeping its grain storage, railway transport and export
infrastructure working at maximum capacity.

"There will be 2 billion roubles next year to stabilise
(grain) prices in the domestic market," Deputy Agriculture
Minister Igor Kuzin told reporters on the sidelines of a
conference in Moscow.

Russia's domestic prices for third-class wheat are down by
20 percent since about the same time last year.

Agriculture Minister Alexander Tkachev said in September
that these subsidies will cost the budget about 3 billion
roubles and make exports of up to 1.7 million tonnes of grain
attractive for suppliers from Siberia, Volga and Central regions
of Russia.

Kuzin estimates that these measures will allow the export of
up to 3 million tonnes from the same regions in 2018. Russia's
state trader United Grain Company and at least three other grain
exporters have already requested subsidies, he added.

The Agriculture Ministry said the measures do not fall foul
of commitments made to the World Trade Organization as part of
the body's efforts to eliminate export subsidies.

"We are not subsidising exporters, we are subsidising
producers," Kuzin said.

Russia competes with the European Union, Ukraine, the United
States and other countries in the global grain markets.

In October the EU told the WTO agriculture committee that it
had learned from various sources that Russia planned to offer
43.4 million euros ($51 million) in discounts on railway
shipments of exported grain originating from seven Russian
regions.

The EU asked how this was compatible with the commitment of
WTO members to eliminate agricultural export subsidies. Russia
replied that the discounts had limited geographical coverage and
would have a modest effect on the agricultural sector.

The Agriculture Ministry expects Russia to export 45 million
tonnes of grain in the 2017/18 marketing year, which started on
July 1. It has already exported 22 million tonnes, up 30 percent
year on year.
($1 = 59.1705 roubles)
($1 = 0.8491 euros)
(Reporting by Olga Popova; Additional reporting by Tom Miles;
Writing by Polina Devitt; Editing by David Goodman)

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