| HAMBURG/PARIS, April 5
HAMBURG/PARIS, April 5 Turkish flour mills have
covered their short-term needs by purchasing several hundred
thousand tonnes of wheat from EU and Black Sea countries,
replacing Russian supplies blocked by a change to import rules,
millers and traders said on Wednesday.
Turkey has effectively halted purchases from Russia of
wheat, maize (corn) and sunflower seeds by removing Russian
items from a duty-free import scheme from March 15.
The Turkish move meant Russian supplies facing a prohibitive
130 percent duty, though Ankara has denied banning imports from
Russia. Moscow has said the tariffs are hindering relations.
Ankara has not said why it removed Russia from the duty-free
scheme, but the Turkish economy ministry has said an improvement
in political ties with Russia was "not fully reflected yet in
economic relations", as Russia is yet to restore visa-free
travel with Turkey after a previous row.
Relations between the two countries have been strained in
recent years and Russia imposed trade restrictions on Turkish
goods after Turkey shot down a Russian warplane in November
2015, but Moscow lifted most restrictions as the two countries
restored ties in August last year.
Turkey is the second-largest export market for Russian wheat
and the disruption to trade has upset millers who use Russian
wheat in their flour which is then exported in large volumes.
Turkish millers have since purchased at least 400,000 tonnes
and possibly more than 500,000 tonnes of wheat from a number of
countries in the east of the EU and the Black Sea region, with
shipments mainly due in April, according to millers and traders.
"I think the Turkish millers have basically covered the
shortfall following the disruption to the Russian wheat
purchases," one trader said.
Purchases made by Turkish mills since March 15 involve
between 200,000 and 300,000 tonnes of wheat from EU Baltic
states including Lithuania and Latvia, 50,000 tonnes from
Hungary, and approximately 100,000 tonnes to 150,000 tonnes from
Ukraine and/or other Black Sea suppliers, traders said.
"The remaining countries on Turkey's list qualifying for
duty-free imports are Lithuania, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Latvia,
Bulgaria, Bosnia Herzegovina, France, Hungary and Canada," one
trader said. "It is logical that the replacement supplies were
purchased from the list."
The purchases are in addition to 130,000 tonnes of EU-origin
wheat, which Turkey's state grains board bought on March 9 and
was also thought likely to be largely sourced from the Baltic
Attention is now turning to how long Turkey will keep
Russian imports off the preferred import programme.
The Russian and Turkish economy ministries plan to hold
talks on Russian grain supplies to Turkey in early April,
Russia's deputy economy minister said last week.
"If Russian wheat import restrictions are continued after
August, Turkey's large wheat flour exports will be decreased
dramatically," another trader said.
(Editing by David Holmes)