By Kamila Aliyeva
Russia and Turkey are eager to overcome all problems related to the agriculture sphere, which suffered a lot during the cooling period in Ankara-Moscow relations back in late 2015-early 2016.
Representatives of the two countries convened in Antalya on September 13 to eye the pressing issues.
The Turkey-Russia Committee on Agriculture discussed the possibilities of cooperation between the two countries in the areas of technical research and trade, as well as issues of agricultural development; Anadolu Agency reported referring to Ali Rejep Nazli, the head of the Department for External Relations and Relations with the EU of the Turkish Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock.
The Committee will continue its work on Thursday with participation of Turkish and Russian Deputy Ministers of Agriculture.
This is the first meeting of the Committee after the signing of the agreement on cooperation in the field of agriculture between Turkey and Russia.
Turkey has previously exported large number of agricultural products to Russia, which was the largest agriculture export market for Turkey.
In 2016 Russia imposed a number of economic sanctions on Turkey, including the suspension of visa-free travel to Russia for Turkish citizens, limits on Turkish residents and companies doing business in Russia and bans on import of Turkish agriculture products following the downing of its plane.
An export ban for Turkish goods and food to Russia caused Turkey’s economy a $550 million loss in 2016.
Russia dropped restrictions on Turkish citrus fruits in late 2016 and both nations signed a memorandum agreeing to lift the vast majority of the bilateral trade restrictions laid down in 2015. However, the Russian ban on Turkish tomato imports still remains in place.
The ban on the tomato import is considered to be the most negative for Turkey since Russia was the largest market for the Turkish tomato export with annual profit amounting to billions of dollars.
After the tomato ban, the amount of Turkish tomato exports to Russia decreased by 10.3 percent while their value dropped by 34.3 percent in 2016.
Turkey exported 541,000 tons of tomatoes to Russia in 2015, however, the amount fell to 486,000 tons. The value of tomato exports to the country was $365.3 million in 2015 and later decreased to $239.9 million, Daily Sabah reported.
However, during the first seven months of the current year, the amount of tomatoes exported to Russia increased by 9.4 percent and the value of tomato exports also surged by 24.7 percent.
During the period of January-July, Turkey's tomato exports to Russia reached $198.3 million from last year's $159 million. Moreover, last year, the amount of tomato exports were recorded at 322,000 tons while it reached to 353,000 tons this year during the first seven months.
Russia says that the reason lies in Russian agriculturists, who invested a large amount of money in the national agriculture during tensions between Russia and Turkey and who are still waiting for the profit.
Earlier, Rosselkhoznadzor conducted a number of inspections of Turkish tomato producers. Currently, there are two types of restrictions with respect to Turkish tomatoes.
One of them was introduced by the government of the country. The second is a technical ban, introduced by the Rosselkhoznadzor in connection with the detection of contaminated quarantineable products coming to Russia from Turkey. The ban was introduced on July 4, 2016.
Kamila Aliyeva is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @Kami_Aliyeva
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