Ankara, Moscow to resume free trade talks

Free trade talks between Turkey and Russia have resumed nearly 10 months after the jet crisis, with an announcement by Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci during his Moscow visit on July 16 that the free trade agreement talks with Russia that started prior to the issue would resume soon.

When the free trade agreement currently being discussed is put into effect, the customs and bureaucratic procedures in trade between the two countries will speed up, along with an increase in the total trade volume.

Expected to increase the regional and economic collaboration between Russia and Turkey, the said agreement will make commercial relations easier for both Russian and Turkish investors.

Russia and Turkey predominantly focused on services and free capital flow in free trade due to the limitations in the ongoing Customs Union agreement with the European Union, Natalya Ulchenko, head of the Turkish Studies Department at the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, told the Anadolu Agency.

Stating that an agreement on services will be prepared in accordance with the World Trade Organization’s provisions, Ulchenko said the agreement on the services is aimed to cover logistics, construction, telecommunication, finance, health, tourism and e-commerce.

Noting that additional rights will be provided to investors regarding mutual investments, Ulchenko said iron and steel products can also be included in the agreement, along with unprocessed agricultural products excluded from the current Customs Union agreement with the EU.

Prof. Dr. Mustafa Erkan Üyümez from Anadolu University’s Faculty of Economics and Administrative Sciences said a trade agreement with Russia will be in Turkey’s favor in any case.

Üyümez said Turkey imported mineral fuels, grain, herbal oils and fertilizers prior to the crisis, and Russia taxed the export of these products. Pointing out that Russia mainly imported vehicles, machines, fruits and vegetables, Üyümez said provided that trade agreements are put into effect, the trade volumes of these items will increase.

Maintaining a level around $38 billion in 2008, Turkish-Russian foreign trade volume dropped to $23.3 billion in 2015 as a result of Russia’s recession, along with the decrease in worldwide oil prices.

In the aftermath of the jet crisis with Russia in November last year, Russia activated some economic sanctions towards Turkey, causing the foreign trade volume to shrink even more.

When the trade volume between Turkey and Russia dropped to $7.3 billion with a 41 percent decline in the first half of 2016, Turkey’s primary export items, including weaving products, food, automotive industry, chemicals, apparel, electronic devices and mining products, experienced a substantial decrease during this period.

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