Turkey threatened on Monday to cease chemical imports from France, in an attempt to prevent the French side from passing a controversial bill criminalizing the rejection of Armenian genocide claims.
France's National Assembly is expected to vote this week on the bill which recognizes the deaths of Armenians in 1915 as "genocide " and stipulates penalties for those who publicly deny the claims. Turkish officials said last week that if the French bill were to be passed, Ankara would recall its ambassador in France and freeze the bilateral ties.
Murat Akyuz, head of the Turkish Chemical Sector Platform (KSP), said Monday that Turkey's private sector is uneasy with France using political issues as a tool against Turkey, and that the chemical industry is ready to put some "indirect trade sanctions" against France.
Akyuz said the government did not urge any sector to take action in this regard, but he added that the private sector is free to take the initiative to introduce some "indirect sanctions" on France.
"Turkey has a noticeable share of French chemical exports ... We received chemical products worth 1.89 billion dollars from France in the first 11 months of this year; we are among the top five chemical importers from that country," he said.
Chemical imports from France are expected to reach 2 billion dollars this year. Turkey exported goods worth 8.2 billion dollars to France last year."We have no problem in switching our imports from France to other countries, such as Italy and Germany in Europe, or Saudi Arabia and Qatar in the Gulf ... We already have good trade relations with these countries," Akyuz said.
He called on French politicians "not to let trade relations deteriorate at the expense of short-term political interests."He also called on other businessmen to consider similar " sanctions" against the European Union member, adding "We do not have to wait for the bill to pass the French parliament. If they are determined to use this card against us, we will not hesitate to respond with all the tools available to us."