Turkey's custom tax of 130 percent levied on six products imported from Russia, particularly wheat, has directed Turkish importers toward temporary solutions, leading them to other markets. Moreover, wheat importers will temporarily fill in the gap caused by the customs tax that disables wheat imports from Russia by resorting to the Ukrainian market.
Importers working in EU countries and distant markets, especially in Ukraine, will receive the majority of their wheat from Ukraine. According to Turkish daily Dünya, in Ukraine, which produces 20 million tons of wheat per year, the production of wheat with 12.5 protein content and above, which is considered high-quality wheat, hovers around 300,000 to 500,000 tons. When it is considered that Turkey attaches importance to the import of high-quality wheat, Ukraine can fill the gap of Russia but only for a short time.
Wheat importers say this decision is "too timeless," indicating that this practice will not last long and that the Russian market will open again. Turkey imports $892 million worth of wheat and comparatively, wheat imports from Russia were valued at $490 million, ranking Russia first with a 55-percent share of the wheat market. On the other hand, the import from Ukraine last year was approximately $2.55 billion, while the share of wheat in imports was around $7 million.
"It is difficult to understand why such a decision was made at such a time," said Ruşen Çetin, president of the Foreign Economic Relations Board (DEIK) Turkey-Ukraine Business Council, saying it is difficult to obtain quality Russian wheat from other countries. Evaluating the importers' orientation toward the Ukrainian market, Çetin said, "There is a difference in quality between Russian and Ukrainian wheat. Wheat imported from Russia to Turkey is predominantly high-quality wheat, which is categorized as wheat with a protein value of 12.5 or more. In Ukraine, 20 million tons of wheat is produced annually. Out of this, 300,000 to 500,000 tons is high quality wheat. Turkey imports millions of tons of wheat. It cannot take Russia's place. It is a temporary solution. Turkey itself produces wheat that is under 12.5 in protein content. The custom tariff that is imposed on Russian wheat needs to be alleviated. The Turkish Flour Industrialists' Federation (TUSAF) is also working on this. As wheat season approaches, imports will begin. This is not the right approach. I believe the sanction is going to be lifted," said Çetin.