Russia is prepared to take measures in reply to the European Union's increase of grain import duties

On Tuesday Russian vice-premier and minister of agriculture Alexei Gordeyev told journalists that Russia was prepared to undertake adequate measures in reply to the increase by the European Union of duties on export of grain from the country.

According to him, introduction by the European Union of increased import duties "became a prohibitive obstacle for Russian grain and as a result of that we could not be competitive in this market." Nevertheless, according to Gordeyev, Russia was prepared to take "adequate steps" by introducing increased duties on import of meat and milk products from Europe. Thus, Gordeyev stated, growth of cattle-breeding in Russia would be ensured which in its turn would make it possible to deliver grain to the internal market where it would become the major consumption product in cattle-breeding. At the same time adoption of reciprocal measures was the subject for discussion by the government.

Earlier the vice-premier stated that Russia was prepared to export up to 5 million tonnes of grain.

The minister also reported that because of the dry spring the grain harvest figures in 2002 in Russia might be lower than predicted. At the beginning of the year, according to forecasts of the Ministry of Agriculture, the country planned to harvest 70-73 million tonnes of grain. The ministry will be able to submit the final spring crops forecast in July.

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