Turkey and Russia are aiming to expand their trade to US$100 billion - a huge, but attainable, number, says Russia’s new ambassador to Turkey.
Speaking in Ankara, Alexei Yerkhov claimed Turkey a “crucial” trade partner for Moscow over a wide range of industries. While construction is a trade lynchpin between the two countries, there is scope for more, he added.
Trade between the two countries began with shuttle trade in the 1990s, and gradually increased in scope until huge infrastructure projects are now underway, such as the Turkish Steam natural gas project, as well as Turkey’s first nuclear plant.
In 2010, trade volume reached an all-time high, with $34bn being traded. It was then that political parties first mooted the $100bn goal.
Recent market conditions saw the level of trade dip, but Yerkhov claims the ambitous target is “a demanding but attainable goal”.
Local governments as well as business and industry are all working together to achieve trade goals, he said.
The tomato problem
One of the most publicised items on the Turkey-Russia trade agenda has been the humble tomato.
After strained relations between the two countries following November 2015’s downing of a Russian fighter jet, Russia banned Turkish trade. Trading has now resumed, but there is still one product under embargo, and that’s the tomato.
Exports of fresh fruit and vegetables to Russia saw an increase of 150 percent to $259 billion in the January to August period as trade resumed. But the tomato wasn’t one of the thousands of tonnes of produce sent to its northern neighbour.
Talk of the Turkish tomato was rife at the World Food moscow Fair earlier this month, with one board member of the Turkish Exporters Assembly saying the demand for Turkish tomatoes in Russia is extremely strong - particularly during the months of the year when Russia doesn’t produce its own crops of the red fruit.
Before the trade embargo, Russia imported $260 million worth of tomatoes each year. When relations between the two countries cooled, Turkish tomato producers found new markets.
A lifting of the ban will mark a return to the good old days, trade experts believe - and boost the export of Turkish produce to $1 billion.
It’s hoped the tomato ban will be lifted within the next few weeks.
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