Russian and Turkish representatives begin three days of negotiations today to resume trade of tomatoes, which remain under Russian sanctions as a result of Turkey’s downing of a Russian jet in Syria in late 2015.
Talks in May brought “normalisation” of relations through agreements on counter-terror cooperation. An agreement to end Russian visa requirements for cross-border travel, as well, has revitalised the Turkish tourist industry, which welcomed 4.5 million Russians in 2014 and hopes to hit 5 this year.
But while a removal of most of the embargo brought back over 40% of Russian imports in early 2017, Turkey has been slow to benefit. Russian-Turkish trade fell by 32% in 2016, and is far from its $100 billion goal.
As Russian greenhouses have filled gaps in the market, the $250 million batch of Turkish tomatoes typically sold to Russia has rotted on the vine. Expect Turkey to struggle in regaining their Russian buyer without risking serious concessions regarding tensions over Syria – Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkadiy Dvorkovic has warned that there may be years left until Turkish tomatoes return to the table.
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