Turkish producers hail China's decision to give the green-light for imports of Turkey's milk and dairy products as it will be a vital income for producers who have seriously felt the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic.
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China has overtaken the United States as the biggest market for New Zealand beef exports in 2019. Photo credit: Newshub

The decision was announced on Thursday by Turkish Trade Minister Ruhsar Pekcan.

“The obstacles in exports of milk and dairy products have been lifted,” she said in a series of tweets.

The minister said that 54 Turkish companies have been cleared to start exports to China, which is one of the world’s largest dairy importers.

According to a separate statement by the trade ministry, Turkish dairy companies exported products worth of 364 million U.S. dollars around the world in 2019.

The ministry said that Turkey will continue its efforts to ensure market diversity and increase the market share of its agricultural products, especially dairy products, such as butter, milk and milk powder, in China.

Setbir, Turkey’s milk, meat and food industrialists and manufacturers association, welcomed the start of exports to China as “very important for our producers who are suffering from the fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.”

“This is a very important development for our industry and we have to make the most of it by exporting quality products to China which is a major market,” Setbir president Tarik Tezel said in an interview to A Para broadcaster.

Tezel indicated that the Turkish dairy sector had been impacted by the plummeting exports over the coronavirus pandemic.

“Exports of milk and dairy products dropped considerably during the last months, putting pressure on producers,” he remarked.

“Our target should be to remain a sustainable supplier of the Chinese market so that our industry would benefit as a whole,” the industrialist said.

Tezel added that exports would begin in late June.

“This is a great opportunity as there’s a big potential in China which is the main player of the world’s milk market,” said Muhittin Ozder, president of the Turkish Milk Council (USK), an organization established to promote Turkish dairy products.

Chinese embassy in Ankara also praised the decision in a statement, noting that it would “open a new page in bilateral agricultural products’ cooperation.”

With the daily confirmed cases and death toll now falling, Turkey is easing lockdown restrictions in order to kickstart the vulnerable economy. In these volatile times, the news of the start of exporting milk and dairy products to a huge market such as China comes as a lifeline for producers.

“I am happy and we were depressed because of the current (virus) situation … but now, we have something to be hopeful about although things will not be fully normal for a time,” Suleyman Kocak, milk producer from capital Ankara’s Kazan suburb told Xinhua by phone.

Kocak, head of a family firm, is one of the 54 dairy suppliers to China.

“This decision will have a favorable effect on our region’s farming and livestock industry which is undergoing difficulties for some time. We are thankful to the authorities of both countries for this move,” he said.

Farmers say no relief is in sight.

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