March 17, 2017 / 2:53 PM / 5 months ago

UPDATE 2-Turkey denies reports of import ban on Russian wheat

* Turkey is the 2nd top market for Russian wheat

* Turkey says no ban on any supplier or product

* Turkey bought 1.9 mln T of Russian wheat in July-Jan (Writes through after comment from Turkey ministry)

By Polina Devitt and Humeyra Pamuk

MOSCOW/ISTANBUL, March 17 (Reuters) - Turkey denied reports that it has banned imports of certain products from Russia, after traders warned shipments of Russian wheat to its second-biggest export market face disruption.

Trade and industry sources said on Thursday that import licences issued by the Turkish government no longer included Russia in a list of tax-free accepted origins as of March 15, effectively closing off the Turkish market to Russian wheat.

Exports from countries not included in Turkey's import scheme have to pay a prohibitive tariff of 130 percent, several sources have said.

Turkey's Economy Ministry said in a statement on Friday evening that the reports were incorrect. It said it had added the names of countries on the documents allowing tax-free imports but that no supplier or product was banned as a result.

"Such stories do not reflect the truth and Turkey's trade policy is entirely shaped by the rules of the World Trade Organisation," it said.

"Care is being taken to make sure companies are not damaged in transactions that began before this practise," the statement read.

Zekeriya Mete, head of Istanbul exporters association of grains, pulses and oil seeds, had said earlier on Friday that "there is a restriction for Russian wheat."

"There isn't a formal note on this but Russia is no longer on the list of countries from which we could import tax-free."

Andrey Sizov, Jr, a managing director of SovEcon consultancy, said after the Ministry's statement that the omission of Russia could have been "a technical mistake or a deliberate mistake to show the importance of Turkey's agriculture market to Russia".

"I think the situation should normalise now," he said.

Under this import scheme, buyers in Turkey are allowed to import certain products with no duty as long as they process and then export the same amount, Mete said.

A Russian exporters' lobby had sent a letter to Russian Agriculture Minister Alexander Tkachev on Thursday asking him "to take energetic measures" to resolve the matter.

Turkey bought 1.9 million tonnes of Russian wheat from July 2016 to January 2017.

Russia imposed trade restrictions on Turkish goods after Turkey shot down a Russian fighter jet near the Syrian border in November 2015.

The two countries restored ties in August and Moscow has lifted most of the restrictions but it has yet to resume purchases of tomatoes and some other products from Turkey.

A Kremlin spokesman said on Friday that the problems over wheat supplies were unlikely to affect the normalisation of ties. (Reporting by Polina Devitt in Moscow, Michael Hogan in Hamburg, Gus Trompiz in Paris, Humeyra Pamuk and Nevzat Devranoglu in Istanbul; Editing by Dale Hudson and Elaine Hardcastle)

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