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Selling in ruble takes Turkish agro businesses to brink of bankruptcy

Turkish agriculture sector producers, who had raised their hopes of taking a larger share in the Russian market due to Moscow’s political rows with Europe, are now paying the price of advanced sales in the ruble, the Russian currency that is currently in free fall.

The depreciation of the ruble, at around 60 percent, has deeply hit a number of Turkish agriculture firms that have sold goods with three-month maturities. This has been added to the large drop in exports to Russia at the start of this year.


In a recent joint declaration, the heads of five vegetable and fruit exporters associations in Turkey have demanded urgent measures to compensate their losses.

“Exporters are on the brink of bankruptcy,” the declaration read.  Tuncay Özilhan, the chairman of Anadolu Holding that has vast investments in Russia including a popular brewery, said closing the six plants in the neighboring country was not on the agenda at the moment.

“However, we will follow developments in the coming days. Consumption has slowed down. We have 5,000 employees [in Russia],” he said, adding that a crisis in Russia would also affect Turkey.

The southern coastal southern province of Antalya, one of the main vegetable and fruits exporting hubs in Turkey, has also traditionally benefited from Russian tourists, whose numbers look set to decline next year. The province sells 70 percent of its $500 million-worth annual fruits and vegetables produce to Russian buyers, and it also hosts around 4 million Russian tourists every year.

Osman Budak, the head of the Antalya Chamber of Commerce and Industry, told Hürriyet that the number of Russian tourists to the province had already dropped some 30 percent this year, according to December figures.

“If the current conditions do not change, we might lose some 1 million Russian tourists in the next season,” Budak said.