ANKARA, Feb 21 (Reuters) - Turkey’s central bank is finalising plans to allow companies to repay some loans from the state-owned development bank in roubles, a person familiar with central bank policy said, a move that would help exporters and tourism firms targeting Russia.
Trade between Turkey and Russia reached $33.3 billion in 2012 but tumbled to below $17 billion in 2016 after ties were strained when Ankara shot down a Russian jet over Syria. Relations have been restored and Turkish companies are keen to revive trade.
Turkey is a major exporter of machinery, cars and manufactured goods into Europe and supports its exporters through state-owned Eximbank, which offers companies “rediscount credits” - a loan that enables them to sell goods on deferred payment terms.
Rediscount credits are usually made in lira and repaid in foreign currency. Turkey’s central bank is working on allowing companies to use roubles to repay Eximbank, the source said, declining to be identified because he was not authorised to speak on the record.
“The (central bank‘s) work on this is continuing and the process is nearing completion. This practice may be implemented in the near term,” the person said.
He said work was also continuing with the Russian central bank on a swap agreement, but implementation of this may take longer than the rediscount credits.
The central bank last July raised the limit on rediscount credits available to exporters to $20 billion, of which $17 billion is allocated to Eximbank and $3 billion to commercial banks.
Earlier this month the central bank said it would allow repayment to be made in lira, a step seen cutting corporate demand for foreign exchange by $4 billion.
The government has been encouraging companies to do more business in lira, to shore up the currency after double-digit declines in 2015 and 2016 and a hammering earlier this year. (Reporting by Nevzat Devranoglu; Writing by Daren Butler; Editing by David Dolan and Richard Lough)