Turkey – Updates on Imports of Sunflower Oil

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Imports of sunflower seed rebounded in December but were still remarkably down from a year before owing to the decimated crops and strong demand from domestic crushers in the Black Sea countries this season. According to our local contacts, cumulative sunflower seed imports of Turkey reached 142,000 metric ton in Aug/Dec 2012 compared to 227,000 metric ton in the same period last season. The bulk of arrivals traditionally stemmed from Russia, Ukraine and Moldova as well as from Bulgaria and Romania.

Contrary to sunflower seed, Turkish imports of sunflower oil continued to exceed the year-earlier level also in December, bringing total arrivals in Oct/Dec 2012 to 175,000 metric tons vs. 112,000 metric ton a year before, with virtually all of that from Russia and Ukraine. It is interesting to mention that in spite of the decimated sunflower oil export supplies of Russia in 2012/13, shipments to Turkey were up year-on-year so far this season, mainly at the expense of the European Union and Egypt.

In view of the rising sunflower oil imports the Government of Turkey decided to adopt a higher basis price of US-$ 1450 per MT (vs. US-$ 1350 before) for crude sunflower oil on January 23 with immediate effect, thus raising the minimum import duty by US-$ 36 to US-$ 522. This measure aims at providing additional protection for the domestic crushing industry, favoring imports of sunflower seed to the detriment of sunflower oil. It remains to be seen, however, whether the higher import duty (affecting only sunflower oil for domestic food usage and not that destined for re-export as refined oil) will bring any sustainable changes this season owing to the sharply lower sunflower seed export supplies in the Black Sea countries.