Turkey suspends import of grain from Russia

Turkey suspends import of grain from Russia

ANKARA/MOSCOW
Turkey suspends import of grain from Russia

Turkey has suspended the issuance of licenses for the duty-free import of sunflower oil, wheat and corn from Russia, Grain Union President Arkady Zlochevsky told TASS on March 17. 

The reason behind this move may be retaliation against Russia’s ongoing sanctions on some key agricultural products from Turkey, according to several experts. 

“There has been no official notification from Turkey but contractors and Turkish importers have informed us that Turkey suspended the issuance of licenses for duty-free import,” he said.

Turkey’s relevant agencies did not initially confirm the restrictions.

Later, however, Istanbul Association of Exporters President Zekeriya Mete confirmed the restriction, as reported by Sputnik. 

“There is no problem with the acceptance of the products that were already loaded onto the ships. However, we were earlier told that the acquisitions would be halted…Our ministry may take this measure against a recent disease in Russian agricultural products,” he said, as quoted by the Russian agency. 

Duties imposed on Russian wheat and corn by Turkey will not influence the normalization process on bilateral relations, the Russian president’s press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, said March 17.

“No, it cannot [be influenced],” Peskov said, responding to a question as to whether the introduction of duties on Russian wheat and corn by Turkey could hurt their relations. 

Some experts believe that Turkey’s decision might be related to the fact that Russia has maintained a ban on the import of Turkish tomatoes and other vegetables. 

Russia is gradually abandoning economic sanctions on several Turkish goods, but some agricultural products with a total market share of $425 million remain on the black list, according to data gathered by Anadolu Agency on March 14. 

Moscow recently lifted its prohibitions on the import of onions, cloves, salt, cauliflower, broccoli and gum from Turkey, but the sanctions on items such as tomatoes or grapes have remained. 

Peskov did not answer as to whether Russia could lift the ban on tomatoes from Turkey in the near future. 
“The Ministry of Agriculture should be asked,” he said.