Ankara calls Moscow its key trade partner

Russian-flagged cargo ship Alexandr Tkachenko sails in the Bosphorus, on its way to the Mediterranean Sea, in Istanbul, Turkey © Murad Sezer
Russia remains Turkey’s main trading partner, according to the Turkish Minister of Customs and Trade Bulent Tufenkci.

"Despite the cyclic reduction in bilateral trade, which stood at $38 billion, Russia is the main trading partner of Turkey," Tufenkci said in an interview with Anadolu news agency.

According to the minister, Moscow’s decision to lift a ban on some fruit imports from Turkey is a very important step in restoring relations between the two countries.

“Citrus exports to Russia (except for oranges and tangerines) grew by 15 percent from January to September compared with the same period the previous year,” said Tufenkci.

On Tuesday, Russia allowed imports of Turkish oranges, tangerines, apricots, peaches, plums and other fruit. The ban on grapes, apples, pears, strawberries, as well as vegetables and poultry remains in force.

A decision on the vegetable ban will be made after an inspection by Russian agriculture watchdog Rosselkhoznadzor which is paying another visit to Turkish food companies next week.

According to Tufenkci, Turkish products are supplied to Russia by sea through the ports of Samsun, Izmit, Ambarli; and by land - via checkpoints at Kapikule, Hamzabeyli and Sarp. The minister said Turkish customs has the potential to cope with additional volume should Russia-Turkey trade grow.

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It’s been almost a year since the downing of a Russian jet by Turkey led to a deterioration of bilateral relations. In response Moscow imposed economic sanctions against Ankara, including a ban on Turkish agricultural products. Other restrictions included cancelling charter flights to Turkey, the introduction of a visa regime, and a ban on hiring Turkish citizens.