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KAZAN, Russia, Oct 21 (Reuters) - Russia will allow imports of 50,000 tonnes of Turkish tomatoes from November 1, one month ahead of the original plan, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said after a meeting of the Russian-Turkish intergovernmental commission on Saturday.
Trade between the two countries has been affected by their dispute over supplies of Turkish tomatoes to Russia which Moscow is yet to fully restore. This dispute has been adding risks to the Russian grain trade with Turkey.
“We discussed the questions of (trade) limits removal, including tomato supplies from Turkey to Russia,” Novak, who co-chairs the commission, told reporters after the meeting in the central Russia city of Kazan.
“A decision about the possible start of supplies of 50,000 tonnes of tomatoes to Russia from November 1 has been prepared,” he added. “We agreed to continue working on removal of still existing (trade) limits.”
The Kremlin said earlier on Saturday that Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan discussed trade and economic relations along with other issues in a phone conversation.
Russia, whose total annual tomato imports are estimated at 500,000 tonnes, was the largest market for Turkish tomato producers before Moscow banned these supplies as Ankara shot down a Russian jet near the Syrian border in November 2015.
While 70 percent of Turkey’s tomato exports went to Russia in 2015, earning Turkish growers $259 million, Ankara is also the second largest buyer of Russian wheat.
Amid talks over the tomato issue, Turkey imposed a requirement for additional approval of Russian agriculture supplies by the Turkish authorities earlier in October.
Novak told Rossiya 24 TV that these additional requirements, which may complicate the grain trade, were also discussed during the meeting.
“We agreed that our agriculture ministries will continue their consultations on removal these barriers,” he said. (Reporting by Diana Asonova; writing by Polina Devitt,; editing by Angus MacSwan and Stephen Powell)