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Will Russia lift its Turkish food embargo in 2016?

After a year of uncertainty, Russia may be ready to repeal import restrictions on select Turkish agricultural imports by the end of 2016.

Russian economy minister Alexei Ulyukayev, speaking at talks in Istanbul during October 2016, said Russia is considering allowing the import of some Turkish agriproducts. Mr Ulyukayev was keen to point out that the lifting of import restrictions would be a gradual process.

“We are getting ready for this [gradual lifting of embargo] and we have prepared certain proposals on lifting the embargo on some agricultural goods. Not all of them, but some,” Mr Ulyukayev told journalists on Sunday October 09 2016. 

Earlier this year, it was reported that the annual WorldFood Moscow trade show played a major role in the Russia/Turkish reconciliation process. After the 2016 edition of the show, Turkey’s West Mediterranean Exporters Association (BAİB) said its members had received their first orders of fruits and vegetables from Russia since the November 2015 Jet Crisis.

Presidents Putin and Erdoğan re-established cordial relations between their two countries after talks in August 2016.

The pair met again in October 2016, in Istanbul, where the two nations signed a major energy deal. Speaking at the time, Putin said: “We lifted all imposed sanctions to Turkish goods, and agreed on discount for natural gas prices to Turkey.” 

The first part of Putin’s comment is the most revealing, but does appear to override Alexei Ulyukayev’s earlier statement regarding the lifting of food bans.

With Russian government officials stating their nation is prepared to begin formally rescinding its embargo on Turkish produce, and Russian firms already signing orders with Turkish suppliers of fruits and vegetables, signs of a normalisation of relations are starting to show. If President Putin is to be believed, then relations are already back to their pre-Jet Crisis status.

Tomatoes, oranges, peppers, courgettes, pomegranates and lettuce are amongst the Turkish products most in demand by Russian importers, according to BAİB.


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Tony Higginson

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