Turkish trucks face hurdles at Russia’s customs
Ceyhun Kuburlu - ISTANBUL
DHA File PhotoTurkish passengers and trucks have started to face hurdles at Russia’s customs after the downing of the Russian jet by Turkish F-16s near the Syrian border on Nov. 24, with Turkish trucks now being subjected to “full examination,” according to Turkish officials.
“Russia has closed its border gates to Turkish trucks,” said the head of the International Transporters Association of Turkey (UND), Fatih Şener.
Noting that Turkey had made exports to Russia in many fields from ready-made textiles to food and machinery, Şener said: “Around 36,000 trucks carry goods from Turkey to Russia a year. Some 100-150 trucks are now being kept waiting at Russia’s borders. We face an uncertain situation here. No explanation has been made about the trucks which are on their way to Russia though Georgia, although the trucks are apparently being subjected to a “full examination” on their way to Russia via Ukraine. This means all goods in the trucks will be unloaded and examined in detail at the Russia border, but such procedures can take days.”
Such a process is also applied at the Turkish border, but only in the event of risky situations, which occurs around 2 percent of the time, officials said.
A board member of the Turkish Exporters’ Assembly (TİM) and the head of the Machinery Exporters’ Association, Adnan Dalgakıran, also told a meeting of the Istanbul Chamber of Industry on Nov. 25 that no Turkish goods were being permitted passage to Russia.
“The passing of Turkish trucks over Russia’s borders has halted now, including machinery. No Turkish good can enter Russia now,” he was quoted as saying by Reuters.
Dalgakrıan said Turkey’s machinery exports to Russia were around $800 million a year, but this amount had already decreased to around $300 million after economic problems began in Russia.
The head of the Istanbul Textiles and Raw Materials Exporters Association, İsmail Gülle, also said the textile industry was one sector that would be negatively affected by any deterioration in Turkish-Russian ties.
“Our annual exports to Russia are around $1 billion, but this has shrunk by 40 percent this year due to the economic problems in Russia. Any further shrinkage in our exports will create a big problem for us,” he said, according to Reuters.
Şener said Turkish trucks faced the same problems in Egypt last year due to deteriorating political ties between Turkey and Egypt.
“Such problems are normal in the Middle East, but Russia is a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO), so it shouldn’t behave like Egypt,” he said.
Some Turkish tourists visiting Russia have also said they faced problems at passport control, while some said everything was quite normal.