Counteraction may be taken against Russian ban on tomatoes, minister says

DAILY SABAH WITH AA
ISTANBUL
Published 09.08.2017 23:43

Turkey may need to take reciprocal measures against Russia's restrictions on the import of tomatoes and other produce, Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci said yesterday.

Speaking to businessmen in Ankara, Zeybekci said there were still lingering issues on the export of Turkish tomatoes to Russia and that restrictions were in place for other vegetables, as well.

Despite some concrete steps taken to normalize relations with Russia, the minister reminded that the bans on the export of certain products are still in force, therefore, the two countries have not yet reached the pre-November status in foreign trade.

"We have not ensured the ease of visa procedures. As for transportation, even though Russia allows Turkish logistics companies to conduct transportation operations and drive trucks in the country, the high visa fees make it difficult to benefit from this permit," Zeybekci said.

Stating that tomatoes have become the symbol of the fresh vegetables and fruit related to exports to Russia, the minister noted that the restrictions on other products are also ongoing. He also emphasized that the ministry faces certain pressure from exporters because of the tomato ban, which compels the ministry to consider taking countermeasures.

Emphasizing that Turkey wants to make progress and take positive steps with Russia, Zeybekci said: "That is why I think the negotiations in İzmir on Aug. 17, 18 and 19 are important. We have no expectations about tomatoes because of the different statements of their two ministries. We do not want to hear the ‘ban' word regarding tomatoes and similar products, such as meat and dairy products."

Russia banned Turkish tomato imports after Turkey shot down a Russian fighter jet near the Syrian border in 2015. Ties between Ankara and Moscow have largely normalized since, though the ban remains in place.

In early June, Russia relaxed its trade sanctions levied on Turkey in the aftermath of the jet downing. In a statement, the government said Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev had signed a decree lifting the ban on some agricultural produce along with Turkish companies involved in construction, engineering and tourism. The resolution removed frozen chicken and other poultry byproducts, as well as cucumbers, gherkins and fresh fruits from the list of blocked products, the government said. It also lifted the ban on Turkish construction, design, engineering and tourism-related companies.

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