Agricultural Watchdog Allows Five More Turkish Enterprises to Supply Tomatoes to Russia

Russian agricultural watchdog Rosselkhoznadzor has allowed five more Turkish enterprises to supply tomatoes to Russia from February 1, 2018, the regulator said in a press release.The permission was granted under the guarantee of the Turkish Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock.

Experts of Rosselkhoznadzor inspected those enterprises in December 2017. “The Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Control informs that from February 1, 2018, under the guarantees of Turkey’s Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock, it allowed five more enterprises to import tomatoes of the Turkish origin into the territory of the Russian Federation,” the ministry said.

Russia imposed a ban on imports of a number of farming products from Turkey from January 1, 2016 following the November 2015 incident with a Russian Su-24 fighter jet that was downed Turkish warplanes while returning from an anti-terrorism mission in Syria.

In November 2017, Russia allowed imports of up to 50,000 tonnes of tomatoes from Turkey. So far only three Turkish suppliers have been granted permits to supply tomatoes to Russia. The first shipment of tomatoes was delivered in mid-November 2017.

Turkish Tomatoes Going to Russia from 1 November

Four Turkish tomato exporters have been granted permission to export to Russia. Russia has, however, set a quota limit of 50,000 MT for the export of Turkish tomatoes.

According to the Russian Minister of Energy and Vice Chairman of the Russian-Turkish intergovernmental Commission, “The decision was taken to amend the regulations, thus granting four companies permission to ship 50,000 MT of tomatoes to Russia.” The first Turkish tomatoes should arrive in Russia since 1 November.

Russia banned the import of vegetables and fruits from Turkey on January 1, 2016, after the Russian-Turkish conflict over a Russian Su-24 plane. Restrictions were lifted gradually, only the import of Turkish tomatoes remains under the ban. Until January 1, 2016, they had the biggest share of Turkish vegetable exports to Russia – 360,000 MT a year.,

Tomatoes in Game of Yes-No Between Russia and Turkey

Last week’s meeting between Russia and Turkey has yet to provide clarity about the tomato boycott, but the yes-no game isn’t over yet. In the run-up to the meeting, contradictory reports were heard. After last week’s meeting, only one thing became clear: nothing is clear yet, so borders will remain closed for now.

The choice of words of both parties after the negotiations illustrate the confusion. The Turkish Minister of Economic Affairs Nihat Zeybecki said in Turkish media that various agreements had been reached. For the remaining small problems he expects a solution before 20 October (when there’s a meeting in Kazan). “There are just one or two very small things regarding agrarian products. We agree on all major lines. I am certain all problems will be completely solved before 20 October.” Specifically about the tomato boycott the minister said: “In the near future we hope for a positive solution from the conversations with the Russians about lifting the sanctions.”

“Proposals for liberalisation of the tomato trade will be prepared separately within parameters between the Ministries of Agriculture,” according to the Russian Minister of Energy Alexander Novak in Russian media. When asked if the sanctions could be lifted by 20 October, he answered: “Yes, definitely. We have confidence that all will become clear before the meeting of the intergovernmental commission.”

A Russian analyst illustrates the different points of departure of the two countries for Turkish website Vestnik Kavkaza. “Our growers are unable to deliver tomatoes that can compete with the Turkish ones. It is obvious that Ankara is very interested in an end to the boycott, but our growers aren’t interested at all.” Earlier the Russian Ministry of Agriculture said he wants to protect the investments that have been made in the Russian cultivation of tomatoes.

Turkish Export to Russia Starting

The first Turkish strawberries and grapes have been exported to Russia, according to Turkish media based on data from the Turkish customs. Russia supposedly imported 322 tonnes of strawberries and three tonnes of grapes. This means the sanctions have been officially lifted. Tomatoes are still being boycotted, although it’s assumed the boycott will be lifted between November and April. Last week, the Russian State Secretary of Economic Development announced they were starting the negotiations regarding this dossier. Russia wants to protect the investments that have been made in the cultivation of tomatoes, which is why the boycott is still in effect officially.

Sudan is also picking up exports to Russia. The African country wants to export fruit and vegetables to Russia for the first time ever, according to the ambassador in Moscow. In recent years, trade between the two countries improved considerably. Last year, trade was 150 per cent higher than in 2015.

The EU extended the sanctions against the Crimea by one year. The sanctions against the annexed peninsula will now be in effect until 23 June 2018. The EU will soon also have to decide about extending the sanctions against Russia. It is expected these sanctions will once again be extended by six months.


Fruit & Veg Exports From Turkey to Russia up by 73%

Turkey’s exports increased by 15.8 percent in May compared to the same month of the previous year, according to data released by the Turkish Exporters Assembly (TİM) Thursday.

The monthly export volume stood at around $12.5 billion, increasing for the seventh consecutive month. In the first five months of 2017, Turkey’s exports have recovered, marking a 10 percent increase in total. The TİM announced the numbers during a press conference attended by Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci.

“Of our 20 top exporting partners, the highest increase in exports was to Russia with 73.4 percent. The five-fold increase in exports of fresh fruit and vegetables to this country had an effective impact on the said hike. Thus, our exports to Russia showed the highest monthly increase in May 2017,” he noted.

Büyükekşi said exports to 160 countries and regions increased in May, while exports to 75 others declined, stressing that exports to the top five exporting countries increased.

Turkey and Russia Lift Nearly All Sanctions

Following the lifting of the sanctions between Russia and Turkey, the Russian phytosanitary service is taking the first steps to get the trade started again. This month the service will travel to Turkey to inspect companies. It concerns cultivation companies that grow peppers, lettuce, pumpkins and courgettes. The goal is to judge the companies and to check whether they meet the conditions.

Turkish president Erdoğan called on his Russian colleague to also lift the final sanctions. President Putin says the sanctions won’t be in effect forever, but that time is needed to lift them. On Wednesday, the two presidents met and talked about the sanctions and other topics.

During the press conference after the meeting, the presidents said that they will make an effort to lift the sanctions, but for tomatoes it can take three to five years before Russia will open its borders again. “We agreed to lift all restrictions, but we’ve asked our Turkish partners and friends for understanding the fact that after well-known events, which led to the sanctions, life has moved on,” president Putin said during the press conference.

According to Turkish traders, the first onions from the province of Adana have been exported to Russia. The resumption of the export gives the Turkish growers hope again, says the head of the district. The Russian phytosanitary service will talk to the Turkish citrus sector. In October last year the boycott of fruit was lifted. Since then 12 parties have been intercepted which did not meet the phytosanitary demands. The conversations between Russian and Turkish delegates are planned for June.

Russia Says it Will not Reopen its Tomatoes Market to Turkish Imports

Russia does not intend to open up its market for tomatoes to Turkish growers, despite losing up to $1.5 billion from a trade dispute with Ankara, Russian Agriculture Minister Alexander Tkachev said on Wednesday.

Turkey has effectively put purchases of wheat, maize (corn) and sunflower from Russia on hold by imposing high import tariffs last month.

Russian market players believe the move was in retaliation for Moscow’s decision not to restore a visa-free regime with Ankara and resume purchases of tomatoes after the two countries improved ties last year, having fallen out over the shooting down of a Russian fighter jet in 2015.

“We do not plan to open the tomato market, (we) will support, above all, the domestic producers,” Tkachev said in an interview with Rossiya 24 TV on Wednesday.

Russia has been actively supporting domestic production of vegetables and tomatoes since it banned most Western food imports in 2014 in retaliation for Western sanctions imposed on Moscow over its involvement in Ukraine’s internal conflict.

“This is essential to us. The development of vegetable production has been our prestige in the recent years,” Tkachev said, adding that Moscow would get rid of the sector deficit in up to five years.

Russia was one of the key markets for Turkish tomatoes and bought several hundred million dollars worth each year.

That compares with between $1.3 billion and $1.5 billion which Moscow, according to Tkachev’s estimate, is losing from the effective suspension of agricultural exports to Turkey.

Turkish Tomatoes Suspected to Be Reaching Russia via Georgia

Turkish tomatoes are suspected to be reaching Russia via Georgia, as reported by the Russian newspaper Izvestia, although the Russian Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance (Rosselkhoznadzor) has said that they cannot prove it.

“We have no confirmed cases of re-exports of Georgian tomatoes from Turkey. It is difficult to find such supplies. If all documents are in order, it is impossible, in the case of Georgia, to determine where the products were grown,” said the press secretary of the Rosselkhoznadzor, Yuliya Melano.

Indirect evidence suggests that Georgia has increased its purchases of Turkish tomatoes fourfold; at the same time, the volume of Georgian tomatoes shipped to Russia has also grown considerably.

The ban on the import of Turkish fruits and vegetables to Russia, in force since 1 January 2016, was party lifted for citrus fruits, but tomatoes are still subject to it. Turkey itself is unable to find alternative markets for its tomatoes, while consumers in Russia are experiencing shortages.

Moscow Extends Turkish Food Ban in Response to Heavy Tax on Russian Agriculture

Russia will not lift the import ban on Turkish vegetables, fruit, and meat, according to agriculture watchdog Rosselkhoznadzor. Last week, Turkey imposed stiff tariffs on Russian wheat and corn, making exports unprofitable.

According to watchdog spokeswoman Yulia Melano, “the issue of full or partial removal of restrictions on Turkish fruit and vegetable products for the Russian market should be discussed in conjunction with the removal of counter restrictions on Russian products from the Turkish side.”

Last week, the Russian media reported that Turkey had imposed a 130 percent tariff on wheat, corn and sunflower meal that is making deliveries highly unprofitable for local businesses.

Turkey’s Trade Ministry denied the reports, but a representative of the Russian trade mission in Ankara said Turkey had excluded Russia from a list of countries with zero rates of customs duties. Turkey is the second largest buyer of Russian wheat after Egypt.

Russia will keep the ban on Turkish frozen meat and poultry as well as tomatoes, cucumbers, grapes, apples, pears, strawberries and other fruit and vegetables.

In March, Rosselkhoznadzor lifted the restrictions against Turkish onions, cauliflower, broccoli and some other vegetables, explaining there is a lack of these food items in Russia.

Food imports from Turkey were blocked in response to the downing of a Russian jet in Syria in November 2015. There were other restrictions, including the cancellation of charter flights to Turkey, the introduction of a visa regime, and a ban on hiring Turkish citizens. At the request of the Kremlin, Russian travel agencies suspended sales of package tours to the country.

Moscow-Ankara relations began to improve after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan apologized over the jet incident. Russia lifted the flight ban, but the food ban has remained.

Russia Ignores Turkish Request to Lift More Products from Boycott

Last week, Russia lifted the boycott of a number of Turkish products, including cauliflower, broccoli and onions. However, for a number of products, such as tomatoes, apples, pears and cucumbers, the boycott remains in effect. On Monday, the Turkish government requested to also lift the sanctions on the remaining products. Ankara wants to increase exports to Russia by 100 billion dollar per year.

The Russian phytosanitary service, however, is in no hurry, and has disregarded the request. “These restrictions, that are still in place, will remain in place and we are not planning to lift them. And especially not in the near future,” Yulia Melano, spokesperson of the organisation, told the Russian press agency, Tass.

It was announced by the Ministry of Economic Development that lifting the sanctions last week had no effect on price developments in Russia. Although allowing products such as cauliflower, broccoli and onions will have consequences for the price developments of these specific products, their market share is too small to influence general trends.