MOSCOW, RUSSIA — Russia has no plan to restrict grain trade with Turkey even as a political battle between the two countries intensifies, said Yevgeny Gromyko, Russia’s first deputy agriculture minister, according to a Dec. 3 Bloomberg report.
The nation has taken steps this week to retaliate after Turkey downed a Russian fighter jet near the Syrian border by banning imports of a range of Turkish food products, including some meat, fruits and vegetables. Turkey was the biggest buyer of Russian wheat last season, and some grain traders have held off making deals amid concern export restrictions might be applied.
“The Turkish market is very important for Russia, that’s why the Russian side by no means intends to do it,” Gromyko said Dec. 3 in response to questions at a press briefing in Moscow, Russia.
Turkey, which imports grain and then exports it as flour to countries including Syria and Iraq, generally accounts for more than 10% of Russian wheat exports, according to BMI Research, a unit of Fitch Ratings. While Russia may have more to lose than Turkey in the short term by banning fruit and vegetable trade, potential restrictions on the wheat market would be “significantly more harmful to Turkey” because of the country’s dependence on Russian grain, BMI said.
Russian grain sales to Turkey since the current 2015-16 season started July 1 totaled 1.6 million tonnes of wheat and 300,000 tonnes of corn by the end of November, according Igor Pavensky, the deputy director of marketing at Moscow-based grain carrier Rusagrotrans. There currently aren’t any delays or restrictions at Russian ports that would preclude shipping to Turkey, he said.
Prices for shipping Russian milling wheat to Turkey via the Azov Sea have declined about 3% since the downing of Russia’s fighter jet to $165 a tonne, Pavensky said.