Ukraine’s government will not introduce any limits on grain exports because it has enough grain to cover domestic needs and export demands, Prime Minister Mykola Azarov said last Friday.
“We do not plan any kind of limits on exports,” Azarov told regional officials in the southern Crimea region.
“Despite the drought, we have harvested enough grain to cover all export and domestic needs,” he said.
After the searing drought in July and August, Ukraine’s grain crop is likely to fall to 40 million tonnes from 46 million in 2009, according to the ministry of agriculture. But it is still well above domestic needs of 26 million tonnes.
After Russia introduced a grain export ban in August, the Ukrainian government proposed limiting exports of wheat and barley to 2.5 million tonnes between September and December, though it then said that a final decision would be made only in October.
Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Slauta said Ukraine was able to export up to 16 million tonnes of grain this season, against 21.5 million in 2009-10.
In spite of what the government says, the customs service is carrying out de facto curbs on exports by holding up shipments in Black Sea and Azov Sea ports, trade sources say.
The customs service says its checks are directed at stopping an outflow of illegal grain.
The grain traders’ union UZA said last week that customs officials had blocked 24 vessels with 379,647 tonnes of grain, mostly wheat, for export without offering any explanation.
A senior customs official said last Friday that the customs service was at present holding between 12 and 15 ships loaded with grain but did not say how much grain was on board.