MOSCOW, Nov 9 (Reuters) – Russia, one of the world’s largest wheat exporters, aims to increase its grain export capacity by 50 percent to 7.5 million tonnes a month within three years, Russian First Deputy Agriculture Minister said on Thursday.
Russia’s grain exports are expected to hit a record 45 million tonnes this 2017-18 marketing year, which started on July 1, but limited infrastructure has put a brake on further expansion, analysts have said.
“We are not satisfied with the existing amount of grain transhipment,” Deputy Minister Dzhambulat Khatuov told an agriculture conference in Moscow, adding that there are several projects in progress to boost capacity.
Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the conference, he said that a number of investment projects in Russia’s Black Sea port of Taman and in Russia’s far east and northern regions would allow it to increase export capacity to 7.5 million tonnes of grain a month from the current 5 million tonnes.
Russia has achieved a ninefold increase in grain export capacity over the past 15 years to about 45 million tonnes. Some analysts have said it would be able to export more than 45 million tonnes in 2017-18 if there was no limit on capacity.
The agriculture ministry also expects Russia’s 2017-18 grain exports to hit 45 million tonnes, with the need to expand transport capacity as the main issue, Khatuov said.
Russia’s grain exports are up 23 percent so far this marketing year, he added, but the country also needs to expand grain exports to Asia and Latin America.
In particular, Russia wants to start commercial supplies to Venezuela in addition to the previously signed intergovernmental deal, Olga Garshina, the head of the ministry’s international cooperation department, told the conference.
Egypt and Turkey are currently the largest buyers of Russian wheat, but trade relations with the latter have been strained for several months because Russia has not fully restored imports of tomatoes from Turkey.
Russia recently agreed to resume limited tomato imports from Turkey in line with quotas set by the Agriculture Ministry.
“As far as I understand, all questions about Turkey have been resolved,” Khatuov said.
Russia is also in talks about a potential decrease in Morocco’s wheat import duty from Dec. 1 and will start discussing potential wheat supplies to the Philippines in December, Garshina added. Cuba has also purchased its first large supply of Russian wheat and is in talks about further purchases, she said.