Russia to Export 14 Million Tonnes of Grain by July 2003

Russia will export 14 million tonnes of grain by July 1, 2003. As a Rosbalt correspondent reports, this was announced on Wednesday, December 4, by Russian Minister for Agriculture Aleksei Gordeyev. He pointed out that experts had previously estimated that Russia would only export 8-10 million tonnes of grain in 2003. Russia will already have exported 9 million tonnes of grain by January 1.

The minister said that 87 million tonnes of grain were harvested in 2002, 1.8 million more than last year. Mr Gordeyev also pointed out that Russian agricultural production has grown overall in the last four years by 5%.

However, the minister also made the point that Russia's export plans may depend on the EU, which intends to introduce strict quotas on the import of grain. The US quota has already been announced and is higher than last year's import level. Quotas for Russia and Belarus however will be three times smaller than last year according to Mr Gordeyev. He emphasised that tense negotiations are currently going on to resolve this situation. The minister added that if the EU does introduce such quotas, Russia 'will be forced to change its quotas on meat and milk import.'

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