Ukraine's Agriculture ministry and grain traders' unions have agreed on 2012/13 maximum export volumes at 19.4 million tonnes of grains, traders said on Wednesday.
UkrAgroConsult consultancy said last week that 4.0 million tonnes of wheat, 3.0 million tonnes of barley and 12.4 million tonnes of maize (corn) could be exported in the current season without prejudice to the domestic market.
“Traders agreed on these volume limits in exchange for clear and fair market rules,” one of the traders told Reuters on Wednesday.
The trader made the remarks after the Agriculture Ministry had closed for the day.
The pact came as major importers moved swiftly to secure grain supplies from the Black Sea region, driven by fears that drought-stricken neighbour Russia may eventually be forced to impose export controls.
Ukraine exported 2.99 million tonnes of grain in July-August, 60 percent more than the same period in 2011, Agriculture Ministry figures showed this week.
The ministry’s data showed that the volume included 1.3 million tonnes of wheat, 1.1 million tonnes of maize and 551,000 tonnes of barley.
European traders have said they expect wheat exports from the Black Sea region could run dry by the October/November period whether or not restrictions are imposed.
“This kind of agreement between exporters and officials is a national sport in Ukraine, especially around election time,” one European trader said, referring to parliamentary elections to be held at the end of October.
This type of voluntary and informal limit on exports may well have already occurred last season for wheat, shipments of which from Ukraine were relatively low, the trader added.
The total is below the 21 to 22 million tonnes forecast by Agriculture Minister Mykola Prysyazhnyuk earlier this week and the prior season’s 22.8 million tonnes.
The limits were, however, broadly in line with the International Grain Council’s current forecasts that Ukraine will export 3.5 million tonnes of wheat, 2.6 million tonnes of barley and 12.5 million tonnes of maize in 2012/13.