Russia’s economy ministry is backing a proposal made by the agriculture ministry last week to limit Russian grain exports to 7 million tonnes from April through June because of the coronavirus pandemic, it said on Monday.
While the proposal is unlikely to have much initial impact, as 7 million tonnes is roughly what Russia was expected to export in the last quarter of the 2019/20 season, the move has raised expectations tougher steps may follow, traders said.
“We agreed on such a draft resolution on March 27 as part of our work against the coronavirus,” the economy ministry said in response to a request for comment.
Russia exported 25.2 million tonnes of wheat, rye, barley and corn in the first six months of the 2019/20 season and shipped a further 7.2 million tonnes between the start of 2020 and March 26.
The government has yet to approve the proposal though SovEcon, one of the leading agriculture consultancies in Moscow, said officials were under pressure from consumers to regulate the market as domestic prices rise.
SovEcon also said the proposed limit was reasonable and would probably not be reached.
The agriculture ministry tried to introduce a grain export quota earlier this year but the economy ministry requested additional work on that proposal.