The 16th Turkey-Russia Joint Economic Commission (JEC) meeting, held in the Mediterranean resort town of Antalya on Friday, provided a platform to deliberate on a more balanced road map to expand the bilateral trade volume between the two countries. In her address at the Turkey-Russia JEC meeting, Trade Minister Ruhsar Pekcan emphasized the urgency to expand the bilateral trade volume to $100 billion, a goal set by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin. "The trade volume between our two nations was $25.7 billion in 2018. We should immediately catch the 2012 figures, which were $33.3 billion," said the trade minister. Last year, Turkish sales to Russia were $3.4 billion, while imports were $22.3 billion.
From January to May this year, Turkey's exports to Russia were $1.4 billion, while its imports from the country were $9 billion, indicating a tremendous imbalance in bilateral trade.
"Enjoying dynamic markets that complement one another, Turkey and Russia have a bright future in commercial relations with immense potential," Pekcan said and called on investors to transform government incentives into valuable investments.
She also stressed that the two countries have much to gain from digital transformation, a phenomenon currently sweeping the globe. The broad room for cooperation in e-commerce is another area that could ensure success for both countries. Pekcan referred to the required steps to ensure more balanced trade between Turkey and Russia. "Increasing the number of highway border gates and establishing a Ro-Ro line are some steps we can take to remove trade obstacles," she suggested. "Russia imports electrical home appliances, freezers, construction materials, furniture, textile and pharmaceuticals from the world, and Turkey offers these products at more competitive prices. Thus, Russia can benefit from durable Turkish products," Pekcan said.
The trade minister also stressed that one of the urgent matters are commercial transactions in local currency. Around 12% of all Russian exports last year were made via local currency, and 5% of the country's imports were paid through national currency.
Pekcan noted that the Turkish-Russian Banking and Finance Working Group meeting was on July 16-17. One of the most concrete successes of the finance cooperation between the two nations is the launch of the Mir card in Turkey, which currently reached a volume of TL 4 million.
Turkey's İş Bank became the first bank in the country to accept the Russian national payment card, Mir, at all its ATMs and member businesses in April. Thus, Turkey becomes the first country to use Mir cards among non-Russian speaking countries. The largest private bank, İş, is estimated to handle some 56 million Mir cards at more than 10,000 e-commerce points, over 400,000 businesses and more than 6,500 ATMs.
Turkey, Russia form 7 working groups
For his part, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak noted that Turkish and Russian officials are resolving problems encountered by business circles, increasing mutual confidence and invigorating relations.
"Bilateral trade between Turkey and Russia totaled $10 billion in the first five months. The two countries definitely have more potential," Novak said, underscoring the urgency to increase bilateral trade.
The Russian energy minister noted that the two countries have taken significant steps to increase the trade volume and recalled that Moscow removed visa requirement for Turkish citizens holding service (gray) and special (green) passports as well as for drivers carrying out international logistics operations.
Novak emphasized that the JEC meetings are carrying out important missions to ensure the coordination of trade and economic relations, noting that seven working groups in the fields of trade, energy and banking were formed.
The Russian minister also explained that the volume of bilateral investments is currently $20 billion, highlighting that the figure does not adequately reflect the true potential.