Russian grain export ban will not impact EU: official

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The European Union has plenty of crops in stock and will not suffer from Russia's decision to ban grain exports due to a record drought, an EU spokesman said on Tuesday.

The EU imports less than one million tonnes of cereal from Russia while the 27-nation bloc produces around 300 million tonnes a year, said Frederic Vincent, a European Commission spokesman.

"Put together, these numbers clearly indicate that the impact will be minimal or even almost non-existent for the European cereal market," Vincent told a press briefing, adding that the EU has "big stocks of cereal."

"There are no concerns regarding the stocks of cereal in the European Union," he said.

The Russian ban, which came into force on Sunday, was ordered by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in a bid to keep the Russian domestic market well supplied with grain and prevent sharp rises in prices.

According to a government decree signed by Putin on August 5, the ban will extend from August 15 to December 31, although the powerful premier has indicated it may even extend beyond that date if the harvest is bad.

Russia, the world's number three wheat exporter last year, has already warned that its grain harvest this year will be just 60-65 million tonnes, compared to 97 million tonnes in 2009.

The drought amid the worst ever heatwave in Russia's history has ruined one quarter of the country's crops, according to President Dmitry Medvedev.

© 2010 AFP

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