Russia may force foreign seed firms into joint ventures - report

FILE PHOTO: A sunflower field is seen along the way to Russia's southern city of Rostov-on-Don, September 8, 2010. REUTERS/Ilya Naymushin

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia may require foreign seed producers to create joint ventures with local scientific firms in order to continue working in the country, the Vedomosti newspaper said on Tuesday.

According to the report, foreign seed makers would be forbidden from operating in Russia unless they enter the joint ventures, where their stake may not exceed 49%.

Reuters was not able to independently verify Vedomosti’s report, which cited two sources and a representative from the agricultural ministry.

The new rules could come into effect from Sept. 1, the paper said.

Since Russia sent tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine last February, dozens of foreign companies have left the Russian market, often because of difficulties arising from sanctions.

While its food exports have not been directly targeted, Russia has sought to tighten control of the seed sector to avoid risks to its sowing campaign.

Russia is one of the world’s largest sunflower oil exporters and sells millions of tonnes annually, much of it to major importers India and China.

Reporting by Olga Popova and Caleb Davis; Editing by Christian Schmollinger