Russia had already banned imports of poultry from Turkish supplier Gida Sanayi ve Ticaret Anonim Sirketi and had tightened up controls on all meat imports from Turkey, but the latest move is deemed to be politically motivated.
Speaking today (26 November), Russian Minister of Agriculture Alexander Tkachev said: “Russia has introduced enhanced monitoring of food supplies from Turkey and will conduct additional checks at the border and at production plants. The government has charged Rosselkhoznadzor with implementing strict controls on the delivery of agricultural products and food from Turkey, as well as conducting additional checks at the border and at production facilities in Turkey.”
The same day, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev ordered the government to develop a set of sanctions against Turkey in connection with the Russian warplane Su-24, which was brought down over Syria by a Turkish Air Force fighter jet on Tuesday. A decision on the sanctions should be taken in the next two days. He promised that the government would not add Turkey to the list of countries that are the subject of the so-called food embargo.
Ban seems unavoidable
A full ban on meat imports from Turkey now seems inevitable, as the country’s top officials unanimously support it. Tkachev has already suggested that producers in Iran, Azerbaijan, Israel and several other countries should take advantage of the niche opened in Russia’s agricultural products sector.
“Ongoing economic sanctions are fully compliant with the rules of the World Trade Organization, which stipulate that countries can apply for such measures in the case of a direct threat to national security. This is the situation we are experiencing right now,” said Russia’s Minister of Economic Development Alexei Ulyukaev.
Tkachev has already revealed the first results of inspections of meat and other food products from Turkey, suggesting that 15% of all deliveries did not pass border controls and would be returned to the exporters.
“In addition, since the beginning of the year Rosselkhoznadzor has recorded 40 cases where residues of banned and harmful substances were detected in Turkish products of animal origin,” he stated. However, prior to the current crisis, no information on such cases had been revealed.
Deliveries are already stopped
Market participants expect an official statement at state level soon about a full ban on food supplies from Turkey, but hope this will not happen, said Ksenia Burdanova, external relations director at Russia’s Retail Companies Association. According to official data, in 2014 Turkey supplied Russia with agricultural products worth a total of US$1.7 billion. The product range mainly consisted of fruit and vegetables, but also included poultry, lamb and beef.
“Yesterday, for example, in Novorossiysk [Russia’s biggest sea port on the south coast] customs inspection of all deliveries from Turkey were suspended and there were reportedly unspoken requests that no batches should pass customs clearance. So in fact, deliveries have already been stopped,” said Burdanova.
She added that, given the situation, the Retail Companies Association had already advised its members to start looking for alternative ways to purchase products that they previously ordered from Turkey. “It is necessary to prepare in advance and have a solution to this problem, or at least start preparation so as to avoid any urgent rush in future,” she added.