Turkey to Boost Food Exports to Russia (and Greece Objects)
While European and North American food producers might be worried about the sting of Russia's new ban on western produce, Turkish exporters could soon be celebrating.
As the Wall Street Journal reports, Moscow's ban -- enacted in response to western sanctions on Russia to punish it for its role in the current crisis in Ukraine -- is providing Turkey with an opportunity for expanding its agricultural exports:
Russian President Vladimir Putin's decision last week to block certain food imports from the European Union and the U.S. is a potential boon for Turkey just as Islamist insurgents in Iraq choke off trade to key markets for Turkish goods. Exporting food to Russia could also help make up for slowly recovering demand from the EU, Turkey's biggest market.
Shipping more fruit, vegetables and dairy products would also aid Turkey in plugging an annual trade deficit of about $20 billion with Russia.
"This is 100% positive, we need to seize this opportunity, Russia can devour everything we produce," said Ahmet Ozer, vice president of the general assembly at the Istanbul Chamber of Commerce. "We don't have energy like Russia, but we have agriculture, water and farmlands; we must work them and sell our produce."
Last year, Turkey sold $7 billion worth of goods to Russia, which Mr. Ozer said could jump by 25% as Moscow turns to Ankara, among others, for food it previously imported from Australia, Canada, Norway, the U.S. and the EU.
As the WSJ points out, though, Turkey's decison to boost exports to Russia could very well put it at odds with its NATO and western allies, especially at a times of growing tensions in eastern Ukraine.
In fact, Turkey's neighbor Greece, which as a member of the European Union now find that its food products are banned in Russia, issued a statement last week in which it implied that Turkey was cheating its European allies by trying to increase its Russian trade. “The EU and Euroatlantic partners also need to make the speedy realization that we cannot have countries that are candidates for accession to the EU – countries that are in fact members of the Alliance – participating a la carte in European policy and benefitting from the cost being paid by the member states,” said the Aug. 9 statement, released by the Greek foreign ministry.