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Ukraine to seek grain from CIS, Europe and US
KIEV ,Ukraine, expecting a poor harvest this year, could import more than two million tonnes of milling wheat from Russia, Kazakhstan, the European Union and maybe even the United States, analysts said on Friday.
Frost, ice and drought have killed more than a half of Ukraine's winter wheat crops and damaged millions of hectares of spring grains, forcing it to import grain to ensure its 48 million population has enough bread, analysts said.
Agriculture officials have said Ukraine's grain was likely to fall to 25-27 million tonnes this year compared with 38.8 million tonnes in 2002.
They forecast that Ukraine would need to import about 1.0-1.2 million tonnes of milling grain in the 2003/04 (July-June) season, short of analysts' predictions.
"The imports are inevitable. Our milling wheat crop will not ensure us with enough grain," said Mykola Vernytsky, director of ProAgro, one of the country's leading agriculture consultancies.
"Ukraine has to import significant parcels of milling wheat because we need about six million tonnes of milling wheat domestically, while we might only harvest about half of this volume," one Ukrainian trader said.
Millers would turn to Russia first to cover the deficit despite a fall in its neighbour's grain crop to 70-75 million tonnes this year from 86.6 million tonnes in 2002, analysts said.
"Russia is the main source of grain for Ukraine and we hope to buy about 30 percent of total Russian grain exports next season which means one million tonnes out of a total three million," a major Ukrainian trader said.
Andriy Yarmak, an analyst from the APK-Inform consultancy said: "Between 500,000 and 700,000 tonnes of milling grain could be bought in Russia".
Analysts said Russian grain (fourth class with about 11 percent protein content) would be the most favourable.
But they warned that with reduced Russian exports, Ukraine could face strong competition from other traditional buyers - European countries, the Middle East and Africa.
Ukraine would then be forced to look to other sellers, including Kazakhstan, France, Germany and the United States.
"If Russia increases prices we will import grain from Europe. The parliament's decision to cancel the import duty (40 euros per tonne) will help us," Yarmak said.
Russia offered milling grain at about $120 per tonnes DAF last week. This week prices stood at $150 per tonne.
Analysts said Ukraine would most likely take up 500,000-600,000 tonnes of grain from Kazakhstan and could buy up to 400,000 from EU states.
Importers would turn to the United States only if the prices were competitive, they said.
"The market will buy grain if the prices are between $150 and $170 per tonne third class wheat FOB-Ukraine," Yarmak said.
That would mean that Kazakh grain could not exceed $110-120 per tonne DAF (Russian border), while EU and US grain prices could be no more than $120-130 per tonne FOB.
But analysts said Ukraine would find it difficult to buy from the United States or the European Union as to be profitable importers would have to take up larger parcels.
MGR Archive 19.7.2003
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