Turkish gov’t ‘not worried’ about Russian trade sanctions, seeks alternative markets
AFP photoTurkish officials have said they are not overly worried about Russian trade sanctions against Turkish goods, adding they are in search of alternative markets as the loss of the Russian market is not in intolerable amounts.
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on Dec. 1 signed a government order approving a raft of sanctions to be imposed on Turkey over the downing of a Russian warplane last month.
The order, published on the government’s official website, included a list of agricultural products Russia will no longer import from Turkey from Jan. 1, 2016.
“We’ll take some immediate measures to overcome the expected losses from the Russian sanctions… Turkey doesn’t have any problems with selling its fresh fruits and vegetables. Turkey can export these products to other markets than Russia. We have alternative markets. We’ll call our products which are waiting in Russian customs back, and sell what we have in our hands to alternative markets… There is nothing for our people to worry [about]. The same is the case for the tourism sector. One door shuts, another one opens,” Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said in a televised interview on late Dec. 1.
‘1 pct of Turkey’s GDP’
Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Şimşek also said the government doesn’t plan to revise its 2016 budget over the possible effect of the tension with Russia.
“Our trade with Russia is just at around 1 percent of our gross domestic product [GDP]. This is not an intolerable amount as we can compensate this loss by increasing our trade with other countries,” he said, as quoted by daily Hürriyet on Dec. 2.
“It is not feasible to revise the budget as if the Russia crisis will last forever. This will not last forever, by the way. With the exception of minor revisions in some budget items, there won’t be any significant revisions,” he said.
Şimşek noted Turkey’s exports to Russia are at around $9 billion, constituting 1 percent of Turkey’s GDP.
“This is not an intolerable amount,” he reiterated. “There are alternative markets to which we can sell the products that we originally export to Russia or from which we can buy the products that we originally import from Russia. We can direct into those alternative markets,” he said, adding that Turkey’s trade with Russia has already decreased by 40 percent over this year compared to the previous year.
“We have already been in search of alternative markets. At this point, we can overcome the losses with other markets, such as European Union members. Our trade volume with the EU has regressed for the last couple of years and we can now find the chance to revive our ties in the light of new developments,” Şimşek said.
Seeking alternatives to Russian grain
Meanwhile, Turkey is looking for alternatives to Russian grain, traders and analysts told Reuters.
Russia has not so far interfered with grain exports to Turkey, the largest buyer of Russian wheat, and vessels are departing Russian ports as normal apart from a few minor difficulties at some terminals.
But traders in both countries fear that either Russia will restrict grain exports to Turkey or Ankara will limit deals with Moscow as the row over the downing of the SU-24 fighter bomber near the Syria-Turkey border on Nov. 24 escalates.
Russia has already banned some Turkish food imports and Ankara is weighing a response.
“Turkish buyers remain worried about buying Russian commodities as no one knows what will happen and the fact is that Russia is still defiant and increasing tensions,” one trader in Turkey said, as quoted by Reuters on Dec. 2.
“I’m still worried that Turkey could impose sanctions on Russian goods in response,” the trader said.