Belarus bans exports of rapeseed oil to Europe

Belarus has banned exports to Europe of rapeseed oil, and effectively restricted shipments of rapeseed too, in the latest sign of trade curbs that poor crops are prompting in the former Soviet Union.

The country has, until March, stopped the sale of rapeseed oil to the European Union, following a harvest of the oilseed which fell short of expectations.

"The export ban has been introduced to secure the supply of biodiesel in Belarus," Agritel, the consultancy, said.

And the curbs are expected, in effect, apply to the oilseed itself, a Belarus source told

"Given that there is a deficit of rapeseed, I do not think it will be possible to get it out of Belarus," the official said.

Global ranking

The country is one of the smaller agricultural forces in the former Soviet Union, and in the rapeseed complex ranks well below production giants such as Canada.

Nonetheless, its exports of rapeseed oil were last year, at 80,000 tonnes, not far below those of Australia, viewed as one of the complex's majors, which shipped 94,000 tonnes, according to US Department of Agriculture data.

Belarus's shipments of rapeseed, at 170,000 tonnes, compared less favourably with those of Australia, which exported a little over 1m tonnes.

Tight supplies

The curbs come at a time of a global squeeze on supplies of rapeseed and its canola variant.

Oil World, the German-based analysis group, warned on Tuesday, even while raising its forecast for global production by 900,000 tonnes to 64.42m tonnes, that supplies were still thin enough to require demand rationing - implying that prices will remain supported.

The USDA, which sees global rapeseed production at 57.1m tonnes, on Monday noted that "robust worldwide demand continues to support rapeseed prices in the benchmark Hamburg market", where prices averaged $479 in August, 23% higher than in June.

They also come as Russia and Ukraine, Belarus's partners in a customs, have limited trade in crops at some levels.

Russia has banned grain shipments until the end of the year, and signalled the curbs will last well into 2011, and is considering curbs on sunflower shipments.

Ukraine, which on Wednesday cut its grain export forecast by 1.1m tones to 12.7m tonnes, has not imposed official bans. But merchants have complained over ships being held in port for, what they claim, are unclear reasons, with 24 vessels currently stuck.


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