Prime Minister Vladimir Putin holds working meeting with First Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov
Transcript of the beginning of the meeting:
Vladimir Putin: Mr Zubkov, it is common knowledge that some grain export restrictions had to be introduced in connection with the 2009-2010 drought. Afterwards we lifted these restrictions, of course. Russia has now regained its position as a major grain exporter. We rank third in the world after the United States and Canada. To the best of my knowledge, we have already exported 22 million tonnes.
Viktor Zubkov: Yes, 22 million tonnes.
Vladimir Putin: Nevertheless, I would like you to monitor the domestic and global markets closely. According to my information, there is no need to introduce any restrictions in the immediate future. I would like to know your opinion on this issue, and I would also like to know your plans for the short term. What are you planning to do in this area?
Viktor Zubkov: Mr Putin, we have monitored the situation on the grain market in line with your instructions. The situation is as follows. In view of last year’s impressive 94 million tonne harvest we have accumulated a substantial grain surplus. There is also the grain in our intervention fund. It is our opinion that by July 1, 2012 we will have accumulated 15 million tonnes of grain in the country overall. This will make it possible to meet the entire domestic demand. Consequently, the current market situation remains stable. Agricultural producers and consumers find the prices to be acceptable. These prices total about 5,500-6,500 roubles per tonne, which is reasonable. In this connection, as you have just said, current grain exports have reached 22 million tonnes. The situation is such that there will be no need to impose any restrictions on grain exports this year. As planned and reported to you earlier, these exports could reach 27 million tonnes.
In light of this, I believe that no restrictions should be imposed this year. I think that grain export companies can safely sign contracts for April, May and June. I think this is correct because this will enable areas in the Urals and Siberia to export additional amounts of grain. We have created very favourable tariffs for grain transportation prices for these regions. The fact is that the current high global prices will have a positive influence on the financial position of Russia’s agricultural producers.
We believe that we have a sufficiently large intervention fund. If necessary, we will be able to sell about 1.5 million tonnes of grain somewhere down south in April and May in order to maintain stable prices there. This affects fodder grain in the main. In addition, we will be able to sell up to a million tonnes of food grain in northwestern Russia this April and May. This will stabilise prices on the domestic market, which is of course important for curbing food inflation this year. Food inflation hit an all-time low last year of 4.1%.
Vladimir Putin: All right, let’s do it. Please work with the exporters. This is the first thing. Secondly, I would like to ask you to prepare a meeting, which I will attend, to assess preparations for this year’s spring sowing season.
Viktor Zubkov: All right, Mr Putin, we will do this.