Turkish Deputy PM says Russian sanctions have limited effect

Turkey’s Deputy PM Mehmet Simsek says Russian sanctions are negligible for Turkey's economic level

Photo by: AA
Photo by: AA

Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek delivers a speech at the SETA DC conference in Washington, USA on January 6, 2016.

Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister for economy Mehmet Simsek on Wednesday said that Russian sanctions are likely to have limited economic consequences for Ankara, estimating that the economic penalties will cost Ankara roughly $3.1 billion of its $800 billion GDP.

“Based on what Russia has already decided, the fallout from this conflict with Russia is likely to be, as a best case scenario, about $3.1 billion,” Simsek said during an address at the SETA DC conference on Turkey. “The fallout from Russian sanctions is likely to be insignificant."

“The goods that we sell to Russia are sellable to anywhere else – meaning we can supply to other markets,” he added.

Russia imposed economic sanctions including the suspension of visa-free travel with Turkey at the beginning of 2016.

The decision came in the wake of Turkish forces downing a Russian fighter that violated Turkish airspace in November despite repeated warnings.

Hedging the economic fallout is a trend toward reduced trade between the neighbors, with trade between Moscow and Ankara falling between 30-40 percent per year, Simsek said.

“Russian currency lost significant ground, and fewer people were traveling, fewer goods were being purchased from Turkey, fewer contracts were being awarded,” he said.

Responding to a question from the audience, Simsek downplayed links between Turkey’s reinvigorated détente with Israel and the potential loss of energy deals with Russia, a key energy partner with Turkey.          

“The linkage with gas is there, but I would say even before this latest fallout with Russia, or spat with Russia, there were efforts to mend this with Israel,” he said. “I wouldn’t really just reduce it to the gas issue.”

Last month, Israel's National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Minister Yuval Steinitz said Tel Aviv was planning to advance natural gas exports to markets other than Egypt, such as Jordan, Turkey and Greece.

Simsek further welcomed Iran’s re-introduction into the international community following a nuclear deal with world powers, saying the Islamic Republic “as a part of the international system, we would benefit most assuming Iranians play by rules, because we’re neighbors."