Market News & Headlines >> Russian Export Restrictions Still Wheat Market Concern

Wheat market concerns about Russia’s exports rose again on Monday after the country’s agriculture minister told TASS news agency that the government should limit grain exports through companies registered offshore, suggesting a possible way it could curb exports as it has sworn off an embargo.

 "The only thing which we should look at is limiting of grain exports which go through shell offshore firms," Agriculture Minister Nikolai Fyodorov said. The Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance Service (VPSS) has proposed to stop giving "third-country" phytosanitary certificates to exporters, Fyodorov told TASS in an interview published on Monday.

 "We came to the conclusion that it is necessary to restore order here," he said, adding that he did not see the need for an immediate decision. Fyodorov did not elaborate on what he meant by offshore firms or how much grain is being sold through them, while VPSS was not available for comment, according to Reuters News Service.

 Many foreign traders, who have firms in Moscow, sell grain to key customers in North Africa and the Middle East through their main offices in Switzerland.

 Russia can export 30 million metric tons of grains during the 2014/15 marketing year, which started on July 1, without hitting domestic supplies, the minister said. So far the country has exported 19 million tons of grains, including 15 million of wheat.

Russia is exporting grains at a record pace this year as a weak ruble makes them cheaper in foreign markets. The ruble hit another all-time low against the dollar in Monday trade as falling oil prices kept pressure on Russia’s economy. However, the ruble jumped against the dollar in early Tuesday trade after Russia’s central bank raised its key interest rate to 17% from 12.5%.