China’s decision to halt purchases of US agricultural products in the latest salvo in a year-long trade war has potential for Turkish farmers to export products to the East Asian giant.
On Monday, China announced it was suspending purchases of agricultural goods from the US and threatened more tariffs on US farm products, a situation that businessmen now see as an opportunity for Turkish farmers to sell their agricultural goods to China.
The decision came after US president Trump last week vowed to ramp up tariffs on Chinese imports, imposing 10% on around $300 billion of Chinese goods, effective Sept.1, which Beijing on Monday said "seriously violated" agreements between President Xi Jinping and Trump on the sidelines of the G20 leaders' summit in Osaka, Japan in late June. It said it would "not rule out" tariffs on newly purchased US agricultural goods after Aug. 3.
The majority of agricultural products China has been buying from the US are also produced in Turkey, said Murat Kolbaşı, chairman of Foreign Economic Relations Board (DEİK) Turkey-China Business Council. However, Kolbaşı pointed to the lack of bilateral agreements between Turkey and China for the trade of agricultural products.
"We need to make bilateral agreements on these products quickly and then export agricultural products there," he stressed. "Recently we have done this in dried nuts such as peanuts and then in cherries. We are also in talks regarding other products such as pomegranate and citrus. We talked to our ambassador this morning, and our commercial attaches are working on it. We are rapidly looking to expand these bilateral agreements."
He emphasized the importance of product-based agreements. "For example, to purchase an orange from Turkey, it needs a quarantine process, and the orange must comply with China's procedures and have quarantine documents," Kolbaşı added. "With bilateral agreements, the qualification documents required to buy the orange from the field and sell it to China must be completed, and China must accept these documents. We have such shortcomings now. We can sit down and solve these issues together."