Russia imposes trade sanctions on Turkish food products

By Niamh Michail contact

- Last updated on GMT

An outright embargo has not been put in place but health and safety checks on Turkish food products have been increased.
An outright embargo has not been put in place but health and safety checks on Turkish food products have been increased.

Related tags: European union, Vladimir putin, Russia

The Russian government has imposed sanctions on food imports from Turkey in protest after a Turkish jet shot down a Russian warplane, stepping up the unofficial sanctions of last week.

On Saturday (28 November) the Kremlin announced it had passed an executive order​ outlining special economic measures against Turkey and measures to ensure Russia's national security.

The executive order takes immediate effect and will remain in place until explicitly cancelled. It also includes a ban on charter flights between the countries and a ban on employing Turkish workers for certain services.

Prior to this the Russian government had already begun unofficial sanctions by slapping increased health and safety checks on Turkish food products. This came after Ministry of Agriculture research found 15% of Turkish products did not meet regulatory requirements, the government said, but is understood to have been in response to the downing of the jet on the Turkish-Syrian border.

Russian Minister of Agriculture Alexander Tkachev said last week: “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.​”

Agricultural and food security watchdog, Rosselkhoznadzor, said last week that laboratory checks would be levied on all agricultural and food imports imported from Turkey while consumer protection agency, Rospotrebnadzor, has also pulled Turkish products, including meat and fruit, from shop shelves following health and safety checks.

Detrimental to both

Kinda Chebib, senior research analyst at Euromonitor International, told FoodNavigator that as Turkey was Russia’s second biggest trading partner after Germany, any cut in economic ties would be detrimental for both countries in the short and medium term.

Turkey is currently one of the largest buyers of Russian wheat while Turkish vegetables account for around 20% of vegetable imports to Russia. 

While it is likely that the Turkish government will subsidise producers to cushion the blow, the main emphasis will be put on finding new commodity markets, at least in the short term, said Chebib.

“Further development of economic ties with key markets such as Germany, UK, Italy and France – representing respectively 9.6%, 6.3%, 4.5% and 4.1% of total Turkish exports ​ will be pursued in order to compensate the loss expected from the Russian ban,” ​she added.

EU help is still cushioning the blow

Chebib said European producers are still deeply affected by the Russian ban of EU food and drink imports, but EU support was playing a key role in mitigating the impact.

In June this year the EU renewed its support​ to European producers, with financial aid for the dairy sector expected to be in place until February 2016 and until June 2016 for fruit and vegetable producers.

In August this year, President Vladimir Putin marked the one-year anniversary of the EU embargo by ordering the destruction of tonnes of European food​, from cheese to fruit and vegetables. Bulldozers flattened the food amid a storm of criticism of such flagrant food waste in a country where millions live below the poverty line.

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