Government official statements on the issue came after the II World Grain Forum (WGF) in Sochi on 18-19 November.
According to Russia’s Agriculture Minister Alexandr Tkachev, lifting of Russian sanctions on Turkish food, as well as the opening of the Turkish market for Russian livestock products were the main topics discussed with Turkish Agriculture Minister Faruk Çelik on the margins of WGF.
“Restrictions on meat imports de facto should be lifted once Russian [veterinary] specialists have finalised their inspections into Turkish facilities,” said Tkachev, adding that resumption of political dialogue between the two countries had already allowed them to remove some limitations on agricultural trade.
Red meat deficit
Earlier, Çelik had also pointed to a revival in meat trade with Russia, saying Turkey had a red meat deficit of 150,000-200,000 tonnes (t) per year and was currently having to import products from Brazil, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Turkey could replace some of these supplies – up to 50,000t – with imports from Russia, Çelik suggested.
He added that Turkey was interested in exporting poultry to Russia and the countries were in the process of negotiating the lowering of customs tariffs, as they are extremely high in Russia and make access of Turkish chicken to the market virtually impossible.
According to data from Russia’s Federal Customs Service, prior to the embargo, Turkey had been exporting 15,000-20,000t of poultry per year to Russia.
Meat trade still disproportionate
In mid-October, following a meeting of the Russian-Turkish Intergovernmental Commission on Trade-Economic Cooperation, Julia Melano, press-secretary of Russia’s veterinary service Rosselkhoznadzor, described the current trading relationships on meat between the two countries as disproportionate.
“At the moment, the majority of agricultural product flows are coming from Turkey to Russia, while Russian manufacturers of livestock products do not have access to Turkish market,” Melano said, adding that, at the recent meeting, Russia and Turkey reached agreement on the approval of Russian beef exports to Turkey.
Melano also disclosed that, on 7-11 November, Turkish meat companies had been inspected by Russian veterinary officers, and a final decision on the approval of export supplies should be made shortly, based on the results of these inspections.
Lack of traceability
Speaking on 16 November, head of Rosselkhoznadzor Sergei Dankvert said Russia would only allow imports of meat from large companies, while imports from small farms were not even considered, due to a lack of traceability in this segment of the Turkish meat industry.
“The issue of small [meat] producers was discarded, as we simply do not understand how control [in this segment] could be built,” said Dankvert. “We are only considering approval of exports from large complexes, which have complete (100%) control of their own systems and are able to ensure complete delivery of products.”