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Grain and oilseed exports from Russia have increased despite the government’s claims of export challenges, according to a report by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Although the Black Sea Grain Initiative (BSGI) had opened up grain and oilseed exports via sea routes generally, Russia was the leading exporter in the region, the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) 8 May report said.

“Russia’s grain and oilseed exports have thrived during the current marketing year with ample supplies and competitive prices. Export volumes could be even larger, but the Russian government continues to apply export taxes and quotas - trade-restricting measures that are self-imposed,” the USDA said.

Russian production of all major grains and oilseeds increased in the 2022/23 marketing year with record volumes of rapeseed, sunflowerseed and wheat, according to the International Agricultural Trade Report.

The expansion of Russian grain and oilseed production in 2022/23 was due to both an increase in planted area for all crops (except corn and sunflowerseed) as well as increased yields for all of these commodities (with records for all commodities except sunflowerseed, which was the second largest on record), the USDA said.

Actions by the Russian government had made it more challenging to calculate precise export volumes and values over the past year, according to the report.

As Russia had stopped publishing its customs data in last March, the USDA said it used alternative sources of data, such as port loading and vessel data, to track exports of grains and oilseeds from Russia.

USDA said it also used reported import data from key trading partners to monitor the exports of Russian grain and oilseeds exports.

In addition, data from many of Russia’s trading partners’ showed strong exports that took place after Russia stopped publishing its data.

Historical data from the past few years showed some of the consistently large export markets for grains including Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Kazakhstan and Nigeria. Top sunflowerseed oil markets included China, Turkey and Egypt, and top markets for sunflowerseed meal included Turkey, the EU and Belarus.

Many of these countries had reliable, accessible trade data, the USDA said. for example, Turkey was a key trading partner with Russia for wheat and sunflowerseed meal.

Data until February 2023 highlights Russia’s continuing strong exports and expanding market share, according to the report.