State Mulls Rapid Food Export Ban

The government may adopt a legislative tool which will enable it to slap an immediate export ban on some agricultural commodities instead of waiting for more than a month, the Economic Development and Trade Ministry said Wednesday.

The tool is necessary to combat inflation, which has returned to double digits on the back of high international food prices and loose monetary conditions and threatens to rise further next year.

If the government now wants to restrict exports of a product, the prime minister has to sign an order setting a high tariff, which becomes effective one month after its official publication in the government newspaper.

In certain cases the tariff is set initially for nine months, and then the government has to consider whether to extend it or not.

A law adopted in 2003 enables the government to elaborate a list of strategic commodities, exports of which it can ban temporarily or indefinitely. But so far the list of such commodities has not yet been elaborated.

A ministry statement said it had proposed that the government sign into order a list including wheat, barley and rye, wheat and rye flour, milk and cream, sunflower seeds, rapeseeds, soybeans, sunflower oil, soy oil, cotton oil, rapeseed oil and mustard oil.

"The list includes basic staples chosen on the basis of monitoring the situation on the domestic market, prices of which have been rising substantially," it said.

A ministry spokeswoman said the government had two weeks to make a decision on the proposal, but she said it could happen later.