Russia to boycott Turkish goods; ‘We’ll buy from Israel instead’
Russia is preparing a raft of retaliatory economic measures against Turkey after Ankara downed one of its warplanes, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said Thursday – with Israel among several countries likely to benefit as Moscow looks for alternative trading and tourism partners.
“The government has been ordered to work out a system of response measures to this act of aggression in the economic and humanitarian spheres,” Medvedev told a cabinet meeting in televised comments.
He said under Russian law the broad punitive steps could include halting joint economic projects, restricting financial and trade transactions and changing customs duties.
Measures could also target the tourism and transport sectors, labor markets and “humanitarian contacts”, Medvedev said.
The measures would then likely be listed in a decree from President Vladimir Putin, Medvedev said.
“In these documents the focus will be on introducing limits or bans on the economic activities of Turkish economic structures working in Russia, a limitation of the supply of products, including food products, and on the work and provision of services by Turkish companies and other restrictive measures,” Medvedev said.
“I propose doing all this in a period of two days so that we can move to setting up the appropriate procedures as quickly as possible,” Medvedev told government ministers.
Tensions have soared between Moscow and Ankara following the downing of the Russian jet on the Syrian border on Tuesday.
“We’ll but from Israel instead”
Moscow has already warned its nationals against visiting Turkey and stepped up controls of Turkish agricultural imports.
Those two moves represent a major blow to the Turkish economy; until now Turkey was a favorite for Russian tourists, and Russia’s large population makes it a lucrative market for agricultural exports. Some 4% of Russia’s total food imports come from Turkey.
In terms of filling the void, Israeli tourism providers have already begun selling the Jewish state as an alternative attraction for Russians seeking a break in the sun, and say deals are in the works.
Israel’s tourism ministry has stepped up its game as well, investing $2.6 million in efforts to woo the Russian market.
As for food imports, Russia’s Minister of Agriculture Alexander Tkachev said his country would be replacing Turkish produce with goods from Iran, Israel and Morocco.
“Turkish vegetables account for 20 percent of the total Russian imports of vegetables. Import of vegetables, tomatoes in the first place, will be substituted with those from Iran, Morocco, Israel, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan,” he told Russian media.
“Turkey imports about 250,000 tons of citrus fruits, a quarter of the total citrus imported into Russia. We can replace citrus imports by supplies from South Africa, Morocco, China, Argentina, Israel, Abkhazia, Georgia.”