Will there be free trade of fresh produce as Russia and Turkey move towards lifting sanctions?
Russian and Turkish Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and Binali Yildirim.

Will there be free trade of fresh produce as Russia and Turkey move towards lifting sanctions?

Ganor Sel

Irina Koziy
Irina Koziy

During a press conference earlier this week in Istanbul, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said the lifting of trade restrictions will involve fruit and vegetables, but not tomatoes.

There have been a myriad of sanctions and restrictions ever since the incident in 2015 when Turkish forces shot down a military jet on the Syrian border, including a range of fresh produce.

Last October Russia lifted restrictions on Turkish imports of citrus and stonefruit, and now it looks likely that other fruit and vegetable categories will follow suit, except tomatoes.

A joint statement on lifting bilateral trade restrictions has been signed by Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich and Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek. The signing followed talks between Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and his Turkish counterpart Binali Yildirim.

Speaking with PBUK Irina Koziy from Russia-based consultancy RK Marketing and news website Fruitnews.ru., says at this stage it is still difficult to predict what categories will be included in the scope of lifting import/export sanctions pertaining to fresh produce.
“We have not seen the text of the document yet so it is not clear what exactly will follow,” she says.

“For the last few days we’ve been hearing how Rosselkhoznadzor (Russia’s Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance) is monitoring agricultural organisations in Turkey that produce different types of vegetables, such as squash and salads, so there is a chance that some of the bans that were implemented by Rosselkhoznadzor are going to be lifted.

However, the situation in Russia is complex, explains Koziy.

“Just very recently, there was an announcement from Mr Putin that the tomato ban is going to be in place for the next two to three years because there needs to be more time given for the Russian greenhouses that were recently constructed for tomato production,” she adds.

Putin has also previously made several comments about increasing Russia’s domestic production of produce to ease the reliance on imports.

“When we talk about the Russian market for Turkish fresh produce, the most important categories that are currently restricted are tomatoes, grapes and strawberries. The ban on citrus and stonefruit was already lifted last October, while onions and cauliflower were again allowed for import to Russia since March 9. These are the good signs of positive changes.

“In the recent publications a number of the Russian market experts and several state authorities mentioned that the Russian market actually suffered from the limitation of imports that was implemented by the Russian government. This is not only related to Turkish fresh produce, it’s also about the contra-sanctions that Russia has put in place in 2014.



The Latest from PBUK

Subscribe to PBUK!

Get regular produce industry insights, sign up for our email newsletter below.