* Deputy prime minister to chair grain market meeting on
* Sees no grounds to ban exports
* Top analyst slashes harvest, export forecasts
By Darya Korsunskaya and Melissa Akin
MOSCOW, July 17 Russia has no grounds to ban
grain exports this year, a senior government official said on
Tuesday as a top analyst said drought damage and low stocks
could slash Russian wheat exports to just 10 million tonnes.
A newly formed commission on food security is due to meet on
Wednesday under the chairmanship of Deputy Prime Minister Arkady
Dvorkovich, in charge of industry and commodity producers in the
new government of Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.
"There will be a meeting on the grain market," Dvorkovich
told Reuters on Tuesday. "I see no basis for limiting exports."
Russia banned exports in 2010 to restrain prices and ensure
domestic supply in response to a catastrophic drought that
destroyed a third of the crop.
The ban shook the trust of longtime consumers and Russia has
since sought to assure markets that a repeat is unlikely.
But a spring drought in the key export regions of on the
Black Sea slashed yields, and later spread to parts of the Volga
River valley and Siberia, renewing questions about export
restrictions. Market sources cited a Goldman Sachs report
as saying they appeared possible this year.
"The state's opportunities to regulate the domestic market
through export limits look rather limited," Andrei Sizov Sr.,
chief executive of Russia's SovEcon consultancy, said. "After
joining the World Trade Organization, rapid imposition of export
duties, especially "floating" ones, is practically impossible,
and a ban on exports is politically unacceptable."
Sizov slashed his harvest forecast by several million tonnes
to 78.5-81.5 million tonnes, down from 94 million tonnes last
year, and said Russia may export just 10 million tonnes of wheat
this year as grain exports fall by half from last year's record
28 million tonnes, which included over 21 million tonnes of
"At forecast production levels, with a reduction in
carryover stocks, and an insignificant increase in domestic
consumption, Russian grain exports in the 2012/13 agricultural
year could fall by half to 13-14 million tonnes, including 10
million tonnes of wheat," Sizov said.
"These volumes would be achieved through a significant
increase in external prices, which will support export,
regardless of rising domestic prices."
Exports have been off to a slow start this year as Russian
grain prices have shot up with world prices, and traders are
waiting for prices to drop.