Vietnam greenlights Russia wheat imports as phyto fears ease

4 Apr 2019 | Masha Belikova

Russia may be poised to restart wheat exports to Vietnam after the Asian country's inspectors concluded an examination of Russia's grain export control system and found it satisfies their requirements, according to a statement from Rosselhoznadzor.

However, trading can only resume if Russia implements a list of special requirements including providing detailed information on hotspots where banned plants such as field thistle are prevalent.

Vietnam requires that imported wheat is free of certain quarantined plants and has asked Russia to provide information about the distribution of field thistle across Russia's regions with a view to sending specialists for further examination.

On that basis, Vietnam is proposing to treat exported wheat from some regions of Russia differently from other regions. 

"The supply of wheat from the Rostov region, free from this quarantined planting and having a transparent system for tracking the movement of grain, has higher priority than from the Krasnodar territory, in which export lots are composed of grain brought from different regions," according to the Vietnamese authorities. 

The two countries have agreed to develop and sign a new document standardising the export of grains and processed products from Russia to Vietnam, as Vietnam has updated its quarantine requirements since the previous agreement was signed in 2000.

Vietnam has imported large volumes of Russian wheat during the last marketing year, with the country registered as the third biggest customer of Russia in the 2018 calendar year importing 2.48 million mt from January to November, according to government data.

However, that pace has slowed down in recent months, as exporters have faced phytosanitary issues and shipments have decreased as Vietnam rejected some cargos amid accusations that they contained quarantined plants.

However, some market sources say the current agreement is unlikely to change the situation, with price still being the biggest factor in buying patterns.

"The (thistle problem) was always there and always will be – Vietnam will starve a little bit and come to their senses. As soon as Vietnam is not be able to buy cheap wheat, they will immediately forget about the thistle," one market source told Agricensus.