Russia bans grain exports to Belarus, Kazakhstan until Apr. 30

MOSCOW, February 18 (RIA Novosti) - Russia banned on Monday grain exports to Belarus and Kazakhstan until April 30 in an apparent effort to stabilize domestic bread and flour prices.

A resolution on banning wheat exports to Belarus and Kazakhstan, part of a Customs Union with Russia, was signed on February 18 by Russian Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov, the government's press office said.

In late January, the Russian government imposed a 40% export duty on grain exports to stabilize retail bread and flour prices. However, the duty, which will also remain in place until April 30, did not apply to the member states of the Customs Union, prompting the Russian government to impose a direct ban on exports to the two ex-Soviet republics.

The need for grain intervention arose when grain prices reached a record level of 6,300 rubles ($250) per metric ton of class 4 wheat and 5,700 rubles ($226) per metric ton of forage fodder in July 2007. Prices of bread, flour and other wheat-based food products also grew as a result.

According to Russia's Federal Customs Service, Russia exported in 2007 about 1.4 million metric tons of wheat to the Commonwealth of Independent States, a loose association of former Soviet republics.

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