Turkish contractors hopeful as Russia relaxes sanctions
ANKARA - Anadolu AgencyRussia’s relaxation of trade sanctions against Turkey is expected to return bilateral relations to the level the countries enjoyed before a crisis in 2015, leading Turkish contractors said June 2.
“We have been waiting for this development since Aug. 9, 2016. We had good relations but we experienced problems as a result of an accident,” Mithat Yenigün, the president of Turkish Contractors Association, told Anadolu Agency, referring to Turkey’s downing of a Russian jet on the Syrian border on Nov. 24, 2015.
The Turkish and Russian presidents met in August 2016 in St. Petersburg to begin normalizing relations following the plane incident.
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev signed a decree on June 2 lifting a ban on some agricultural produce and Turkish companies involved in construction, engineering and tourism.
Yenigün said Russia was the home of the highest number of construction projects undertaken by Turkish contractors.
Turkish contractors have been working in the Russian market at a high quality and reasonable price, he added.
“There are Russian construction companies as well but they obviously need us, and that’s why they are still working with us. We know that some Chinese companies entered the Russian market after restrictions were imposed on Turkish companies, but we are not afraid of this, as Turkish Eximbank will support our financial needs in foreign countries,” he said.
Yenigün said they needed to “wait and see” as to how Russia will implement the decree.
He said Turkish contractors conducted $5 billion of work in Russia every year before the crisis between the two countries.
“Our contractors’ business volume in Russia reached approximately $65 billion, nearly 20 percent of the total $350 billion abroad. The number of projects totaled 1,930,” Yenigün added.
“With the decision to lift sanctions against our country, the doors for our contractors are open and they will get a share from the Russian market,” he said.
Mehmet Okay, the chairman of Ant Yapı, also said the decree created an opportunity for them to pursue pending projects to raise their turnover which was cut in half after the jet crisis.
“We used to have a turnover of $500 million to $1 billion before the incident. However, it fell below $500 million, and the number of employees decreased from 10,000 to 5,000. I believe that we will attain our previous capacity in Russia,” he said.
Okay said the number of projects in Russia had decreased from 15 to 20 to around five or six. “If the decree had not been signed, we should have closed business and come back to Turkey,” he said.
Basar Arıoğlu, chairman of Turkey’s Yapı Merkezi construction company, also noted that Turkish construction companies had conducted a lot of successful work in Russia.
Lifting the sanctions will be beneficial for Turkey’s construction sector, Arıoğlu said.
“Turkey lost an important market [Russia] in terms of the construction sector, which is one of the biggest employment providers in Turkey. The chance to regain that market would be attractive for the Turkish economy and service exports,” Arıoğlu said.