(Adds quotes from the Russian side, context)
ISTANBUL/MOSCOW, May 11 (Reuters) - Turkey resumed wheat imports from Russia on Monday, Turkish Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci told Reuters on Thursday, just a few days after the trade dispute between the two countries was settled.
Turkey, traditionally the second-largest buyer of Russian wheat after Egypt and the top buyer of its sunflower oil, imposed what Moscow regarded as prohibitively high import tariffs from mid-March.
The dispute, which had brought Russia’s grain supplies to Turkey to a virtual standstill, was resolved at the meeting of the presidents of the two countries - Tayyip Erdogan and Vladimir Putin - on May 3.
“Wheat imports from Russia to Turkey began on Monday,” Zeybekci said.
Russian wheat and sunflower oil are again being sold to buyers in Turkey, a Russian lobby group of grain exporters and the union of sunflower oil producers also said on Thursday.
“The wheat (trade) has opened. Some of our association members are already signing contracts,” Sergey Balan, the head of Russia’s National Association of Exporters of Agricultural Products, told Reuters.
Mikhail Maltsev, the head of Russia’s Oil and Fats Union, also said that Russian sunflower oil suppliers received the confirmation from the Turkish buyers on Thursday that all restrictions were removed and had started to enter into new contracts.
Russian Agriculture Ministry did not immediately respond to Reuters’ requests for comment.
Wheat traders in Russia, Western Europe and a Turkish flour miller also confirmed that the Russian wheat trade with Ankara was back to normal.
“I have made sales of Russian wheat for May and June shipment and Russian new crop is also being negotiated, in my view the trade is back to normal,” one of the traders said.
A Turkish flour miller said that “all hurdles” had been lifted on Russian wheat imports and the restrictive list of countries had been removed and wheat could be imported without customs duties “from any origin”. The miller also said he had just purchased two consignments of Russian wheat for a total of 8,000 tonnes.
Russia, one of the world’s largest wheat exporters, is expected to speed up its grain exports in the coming weeks due to resumed supplies to Turkey and also due to the rouble currency weakening, SovEcon consultancy said on Wednesday.
It was not clear whether the trade with Russian maize (corn) has also been restored. (Reporting by Can Sezer in Istanbul; Additional reporting by Polina Devitt and Olga Popova in Moscow; Michael Hogan in Hamburg and Gus Trompiz and Valerie Parent in Paris; Writing by Humeyra Pamuk in Istanbul and Polina Devitt in Moscow; Editing by Daren Butler and Jane Merriman)