* Wheat exports are near maximum agreed volume
* Wheat crop fell by the a third due to bad weather
By Pavel Polityuk
KIEV, Nov 13 Ukraine's authorities are only a
few steps away from making a decision on whether they should
limit exports of wheat to ensure that the population has enough
cheap bread, analysts and traders said on Tuesday.
According to a letter from the Agriculture Ministry obtained
by Reuters, the ministry has informed traders that the exports
of wheat have almost reached the maximum volume originally
agreed by officials and exporters for this season, which runs to
"The decision on future wheat export policy must be adopted
as soon as possible," a large foreign trader said.
In August, the ministry and traders agreed that wheat
exports could not exceed 4.0 million tonnes this season, but in
October the maximum volume was increased to 5.5 million tonnes.
The official data show that Ukraine exported 4.78 million
tonnes of wheat as of Nov. 12 and that an additional 617,000
tonnes would be shipped abroad in the near future.
It showed that 303,000 tonnes of wheat were already loaded
into vessels and another 314,000 tonnes were collected in port
silos for forthcoming shipments.
"I'm sure that the export of wheat will be stopped from Dec.
1, but it is still unclear when the ministry could make the
decision," said analyst Yelizaveta Malyshko from UkrAgroConsult
Grain traders union UZA said last week the Ukrainian
government could introduce curbs on wheat exports early in
December but feared that instead of an official ban it might opt
for informal restrictions.
Grain traders prefer a clear-cut ban, because unofficial
barriers, which involve increased red tape, tend to favour some
privileged companies, which could hurt Ukraine's image as a
Ukraine in the 2010/11 season imposed informal export
barriers on wheat after a disappointing harvest. Exporters faced
huge costs because they failed to meet contracts.
Agriculture Minister Mykola Prysyazhnyuk said last month the
government would halt wheat exports from Nov. 15 due to a fall
in the harvest to prevent a rise in domestic bread
Subsequently after criticism from the European Union and
Ukraine's main importers, the ministry softened its talk of an
outright ban. It said it would apply "necessary measures" to
limit sales if a critical shortage of food grain appeared.
The former Soviet republic consumes 12 million tonnes of
wheat, including 4.7 million tonnes of food wheat, per season.
The wheat harvest fell by a third to 15 million tonnes in
2012 after a drought during the sowing and severe frosts in the
(editing by Jane Baird)