Turkey, Rus­sia sign mem­o­ran­dum to solve tomato ques­tion

Af­ter two years of a Rus­sian em­bargo on tomato im­ports from Turkey, a con­crete step has been taken, as Turk­ish and Rus­sian del­e­ga­tions signed a mem­o­ran­dum lay­ing out the tech­ni­cal de­tails for re­sum­ing the tomato trade, which in­cluded re­quests by both side

Daily Sabah (Turkey) - - Front Page -

AF­TER meet­ing with the Turk­ish del­e­ga­tion in An­talya on Friday, state­ments sig­nal­ing pos­i­tive de­vel­op­ments in­sin­u­at­ing that tomato im­ports from Turkey, which were banned af­ter the jet-down­ing cri­sis in Novem­ber 2015 and turned into a sym­bol of Turk­ish-Rus­sian re­la­tions, would be re­sumed came from the Rus­sian side as both coun­tries have signed a mem­o­ran­dum in­clud­ing re­quests from both sides. At the first term meet­ing of the Turkey-Rus­sian Agri­cul­ture Ex­ec­u­tive Com­mit­tee held in An­talya, the Turk­ish and Rus­sian del­e­ga­tions signed a mem­o­ran­dum of un­der­stand­ing in­clud­ing the de­mands and re­quests of both coun­tries.

RUS­SIA’S Deputy Min­is­ter of Agri­cul­ture Evgeny Gromyko said that the de­ci­sion to lift the re­stric­tions on tomato im­ports from Turkey lies with the Rus­sian govern­ment and the coun­cil of min­is­ters. The Min­istry of Agri­cul­ture, he stated, will com­mu­ni­cate its rec­om­men­da­tion that there is no tech­ni­cal ob­sta­cle, in­clud­ing plant safety, to lift­ing the ban on the tomato im­ports.

Ad­dress­ing press mem­bers fol­low­ing the meet­ing, Gromyko high­lighted that the two sides held im­por­tant meet­ings on Friday and dis­cussed a roadmap for lift­ing the im­port ban.

“The govern­ment should de­cide whether to lift the ban on tomato im­ports from Turkey. But as the Min­istry of Agri­cul­ture we will re­fer our rec­om­men­da­tion to the govern­ment that there is no ob­sta­cle for re­mov­ing the re­stric­tions upon our re­turn to Rus­sia,” Gromyko said. The Rus­sian coun­cil of min­is­ters signed a de­cree af­ter the 2015 jet-down­ing cri­sis in which it in­tro­duced the re­stric­tions on the im­ports of agri­cul­tural pro­duce from Turkey.

Al­though Gromyko gave no cer­tain date as to when tomato im­ports from Turkey might be­gin, he noted that the de­ci­sion might take months be­cause a def­i­nite de­ci­sion that will en­able pro­duc­ers to plan their cal­en­dars is nec­es­sary.

Ex­plain­ing the green­house in­vest­ments in Rus­sia, the Rus­sian deputy min­is­ter said that the coun­try has in­vested more than $3 bil­lion over the last 10 years in green­house devel­op­ment.

High­light­ing that green­house cul­ti­va­tion is ex­pen­sive due to the cli­mate con­di­tions in Rus­sia, Gromyko said, “We are work­ing to pro­tect our pro­duc­ers as much as pos­si­ble. Our coun­try’s fruit and veg­etable im­ports hover around $1 bil­lion per year,” he said, em­pha­siz­ing that Rus­sia is ready to co­op­er­ate with Turk­ish part­ners. “The es­sen­tial is­sue in these im­ports is to en­sure food safety, in other words, it is nec­es­sary to mon­i­tor and as­cer­tain whether the prod­ucts in the sup­ply chain, from pro­duc­tion to cus­tomer-de­liv­ery, are healthy,” he noted.

On a ques­tion of whether the pro­duc­tion in Rus­sia meets the need for tomatoes, Gromyko said, “We im­port tomatoes; 100,000 tons of do­mes­tic pro­duc­tion have been added to the cur­rent pro­duc­tion. Our im­ports will con­tinue. We have 460,000 tons of im­ports in Rus­sia, and our own pro­duc­tion.”

Gromyko also stated that they im­port tomatoes from dif­fer­ent coun­tries, mainly from Morocco, Azer­bai­jan and China.

Deputy Min­is­ter of Food, Agri­cul­ture and Live­stock Mehmet Daniş ex­pressed Turkey’s ex­pec­ta­tion that the Rus­sian govern­ment will in­tro­duce an amend­ment on the de­cree that bans tomato im­ports from Turkey and fa­cil­i­tates the im­ports.

Speak­ing at the sign­ing cer­e­mony, Daniş noted that spe­cial meet­ings on poul­try, meat, tomato, egg­plant and pome­gran­ate ex­ports were held.

Stat­ing that the Rus­sian del­e­ga­tion com­pleted the prepa­ra­tions for re­sum­ing tomato im­ports from Turkey, Daniş said, “The ob­sta­cle for tomato im­ports is the govern­ment de­cree. We ex­pect that the Rus­sian govern­ment will make an amend­ment on the de­cree and pave the way for tomato im­ports.”

Em­pha­siz­ing that both coun­tries should com­mit to re­cip­ro­cal re­quests and that they dealt with some prob­lems, he ex­pressed his hope for the quick re­moval of the ban on im­ports.

In early June, Rus­sian Prime Min­is­ter Dmitry Medvedev signed a de­cree lift­ing the ban on cer­tain agri­cul­tural pro­duce and 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.

In Au­gust, Rus­sia’s Agri­cul­ture Min­is­ter Alexan­der Tkachev also noted that Rus­sia is not ready to im­port tomatoes from Turkey and does not plan to take such a step ei­ther. Yet later, it was also an­nounced that Rus­sia may al­low tomato im­ports from Turkey at cer­tain pe­ri­ods, like in win­ter when the prod­uct is not grown by its own pro­duc­ers, and it will ad­di­tion­ally im­port other prod­ucts such as tomato paste from Turkey.

Af­ter the Rus­sian em­bargo, the amount of tomato ex­ports to the coun­try de­creased by 10.3 per­cent while their value dropped by 34.3 per­cent in 2016. How­ever, dur­ing the first seven months of this 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.

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 de­creased to $239.9 mil­lion.

Dur­ing the pe­riod of Jan­uary-July, Turkey’s tomato ex­ports to Rus­sia reached $198.3 mil­lion, up from last year’s $159 mil­lion. More­over, last year, the amount of “sym­bol veg­etable” ex­ports was recorded at 322,000 tons, and it reached 353,000 tons this year dur­ing the first seven months.

Turkey and Rus­sia signed a mem­o­ran­dum of un­der­stand­ing that in­cludes de­mands from both sides to re­sume tomato ex­ports.

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