Turkey offers ‘warehouse and bridge’ for metals trade to sanctions-hit Russia

Western sanctions have given Turkey’s metals sector a chance to serve as “a warehouse and a bridge”, the head of an industry group has said, citing increased interest from Russian companies as well as European firms seeking to sell to Russia via Turkey.

The West, including Britain and European Union countries, has imposed sanctions on Russian elites, banks and strategic industries since Russia launched what it calls an “Operation special military” in Ukraine.

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Cetin Tecdelioglu, head of the Istanbul Ferrous and Non-Ferrous Metals Exporters Association (IDDMIB), said Russian demand had increased for Turkish products that it could no longer source from European companies and that Turkish companies had received requests from European companies regarding the supply of Russia via Turkey. .

“What they (Russia) cannot buy from Germany, Italy and France, they buy from us. On the other hand, many European companies are considering selling their products to Russia via the Turkey,” he told reporters on Friday.

“They want to use Turkey as a warehouse and a bridge, while Russia wants to source from Turkey,” he said, adding that it was a “historic opportunity” for Turkish companies.

He did not name the companies involved, or specify their number, but said they produced copper, aluminum, kitchen utensils and machinery.

Turkey’s exports of ferrous and non-ferrous metals totaled 8.9 billion lira ($495.58 million) in the first seven months of 2022, according to IDDMIB data, a 33 percent increase from to a year ago. They accounted for 6.2% of Turkey’s exports.

Turkey’s exports of ferrous and non-ferrous metals to Russia rose 26 percent year-on-year to $170 million as of August 8, the data showed.

The disagreement between Moscow and the West over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has raised fears of a possible cut in Russian gas to Europe, which could force the shutdown of some European industrial production.

Tecdelioglu said this could provide another opportunity for Turkish exporters of metal products.

Turkey has criticized the Russian invasion, sent armed drones to Ukraine and sought to facilitate peace talks between the parties. But he has not backed Western sanctions against Moscow and is seeking to maintain close trade, energy and tourism ties.

Relations between the West and China also soured after US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan last week, which Tecdelioglu said was another potential chance for China. Turkey if it disrupted previous trade relations.

“We are getting signals of some opportunities,” he said.

Turkey has not publicly commented on Pelosi’s visit, but has in recent years changed its language about Uyghur Muslims who form a significant minority in Turkey.

Last year, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan told his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping that it was important for Turkey that Uyghur Muslims live in peace as “equal citizens of China”, but said Turkey respected China’s national sovereignty.

Read more: Putin of Russia and Erdogan of Turkey agree to strengthen economic and energy cooperation

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