Turkish contractors hopeful as Russia relaxes sanctions

Russia’s further relaxing of trade sanctions against Turkey is expected to boost bilateral relations to pre-crisis level, according to leading representatives of Turkish contractors on Friday.

“We have been waiting for this development since Aug. 9, 2016. We had good relations but we experienced problems as a result of an accident,” Mithat Yenigun, the president of Turkish Contractors Association, told Anadolu Agency.

Turkish and Russian presidents met for first time in August in St. Petersburg since ties deteriorated with the downing of a Russian fighter jet in 2015 over airspace violation.

Russia’s Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev Friday signed a decree lifting the ban on some agricultural produce and Turkish companies involved in construction, engineering and tourism.

Yenigun reminded that Russia stands out as home to the highest number of construction works undertaken by Turkish contractors.

Turkish contractors have been working in Russian market with high quality and reasonable price, he said.

“There are Russian construction companies as well but they obviously need us and that’s why they are still working with us. We know that some Chinese companies entered the Russian market after restrictions on Turkish companies but we are not afraid of this as Turkish Eximbank will support our financial needs in foreign countries,” he explained.

Yenigun said that they need to “wait and see” as to how Russia will implement the decree.

He stated that Turkish contractors did 5 billion dollar worth of work in Russia every year before the crisis between the two countries.

“Our contractors’ business volume in Russia has reached approximately $65 billion, nearly 20 percent of the total $350 billion abroad. The number of projects totaled 1,930,” Yenigun added.

“With the decision to lift sanctions against our country, the doors for our contractors are open and they will get a share from the Russian market,” he said.

Mehmet Okay, the chairman of Ant Yapi, also said that the decree created an opportunity for them to undertake pending projects to raise their turnover which had halved after the jet downing crisis.

“We used to have a turnover of $500 million to $1 billion before the incident. However it fell below $500 million and the number of employees decreased to 5 thousand from 10 thousand. I believe that we will catch our previous capacity in Russia,” he explained.

Okay noted that the number of their building sites in Russia decreased to 5 or 6 which was 15 to 20 back then. “If the decree was not signed we should have closed business and come back to Turkey,” he said.

Additionally, Basar Arioglu, chairman of Yapi Merkezi Construction and Industry of Turkey, reminded that Turkish construction companies conducted a lot of successful work in Russia and there is a lot to do.

Lifting the sanctions would be beneficial for Turkey’s construction sector, Arioglu noted.

“Turkey had lost an important market [Russia] in construction sector, which is one of the most employment providers in Turkey. The chance of regaining that market would be attractive for Turkish economy and service export,” Arioglu.