SOCHI, Russia (Reuters) - Russia's Deputy Agriculture Minister, Ilya Shestakov, said he was surprised by a sudden statement by Economy Minister Andrei Belousov that Russia could limit grain exports, and said neither a ban nor protective tariffs were under discussion.
"To be honest Andrei Removich (Belousov's) statement was a surprise for me too," Shestakov told reporters in the Black Sea resort town of Sochi at an economic forum.
"We have not even discussed limiting exports and it sounded very strange," he added. "In all the meetings that have happened, the issue of a ban has never been raised and the Economy Ministry has not promoted that idea this year."
He said export tariffs were not under discussion and the Agriculture Ministry was sticking to its plan to manage the domestic market through intervention sales, which would be subject to a decision by the ministry in October.
He said the 72-73 million tonne harvest forecast announced by the Agriculture Ministry in recent days was unlikely to change and did not suggest a "catastrophe" on the level of the 2010/11 harvest, when Russia reaped 66.9 million tonnes and banned exports.
He said the government did not object to the prospect of increased imports from neighbouring Kazakhstan, which are seen as likely to cover regional shortages in drought-hit parts of Russia such as Siberia and the southern Urals.
"We are in a globalised market and there is nothing bad in that because there will be logistic redirection of flows," he said.
"We will export from south and import from Kazakhstan. Under the Customs Union it is not something we have to accept - we consider it correct."
(Reporting by Melissa Akin; Editing by Maria Kiselyova)