* Govt considers corn export limits - econ minister
* Exports could be limited to 29.3 mln tonnes -APK-Inform
* Grain traders union sees no basis for a limit
* (Adds comment of traders union UGA)
By Pavel Polityuk
KIEV, April 24 (Reuters) - Ukraine’s government is considering limiting corn exports for this season and the issue will be discussed next week, deputy economy minister Taras Vysotskiy told Reuters on Friday.
Neighbours Romania and Russia have both restricted some grain exports due to disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Vysotskiy did not say why Ukraine might restrict corn exports, nor what the limit might be.
Ukraine’s corn harvest generally exceeds domestic consumption and the country has not restricted shipments in previous seasons.
Agriculture consultancy APK-Inform said earlier on Friday that exports could be limited to 29.3 million tonnes, quoting a government proposal to traders.
Ukraine harvested nearly 36 million tonnes of corn in 2019 and APK-Inform has forecast exports will total 28.5 million tonnes in the 2019/20 season.
The country’s traders union UGA said there were no grounds to set export limits, adding it expects a further decline in corn exports in the near future.
“UGA is convinced that there are no prerequisites for a shortage of corn in the domestic market, so it is inappropriate to determine the maximum export volume of this crop,” the union said in a statement.
“On the contrary, we need to sell our stocks while international prices are at a fairly decent level, as the next year’s crop prices are much lower and storing corn is much more difficult and expensive than other crops,” UGA said.
The country has already exported 25.2 million tonnes of the commodity, 2.7 million tonnes more than this time last season.
The consultancy said Ukrainian corn export prices fell over the past week on declining demand from exporters and an expected decrease in biofuel production.
Export bid prices for Ukrainian corn fell to $172-176 per tonne FOB (free-on-board) Black Sea as of April 23, from $178-183 per tonne in the middle of last week, it said.
Ukraine, one of world’s top grain exporters, said this month it was ready to ban wheat exports if sales exceeded limits agreed with traders.
It has also temporarily banned buckwheat exports.
The disruptions to supply chains caused by the coronavirus pandemic have prompted neighbouring Romania to ban cereal exports to non-European Union destinations.
Another neighbour, Russia, has also limited grain exports and sold grain from its stockpile to increase supply to its flour millers and bakers. (Reporting by Louise Heavens)