Russian grain embargo 'official'.
-Russia curbs grain exports, traders call it state regulation - RTRS
- Traders say exports go to only four countries
- Countries are Egypt, Turkey, India and Armenia
(Adds details, quotes, context)
MOSCOW, Dec 17 (Reuters) - Russia's food safety watchdog has imposed tougher quality checks on grain exports, a move traders criticised as being little more than the state cutting supplies to only four countries.
Russia's Agriculture Ministry had promised to avoid export curbs on Tuesday, but within hours traders said the watchdog had restricted grain export certificates for some countries. (Full Story)
On Wednesday, the Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance Service (VPSS), confirmed it had started to pay "special attention" to the quality of grain sent for export and was giving certificates only when the quality conformed with the rules of importing countries.
VPSS spokeswoman Yulia Trofimova said: "Russia has always been considered to be a grain power and we cannot lose this status due to defects in the products sent for exports. "She said there was no data available on whether this move was curbing exports.
A Russian grain exporters' lobby - the National Association of Exporters of Agricultural Products - sent a letter to the government to complain that the phytosanitary service was only allowing exports to Egypt, Turkey, India and Armenia.