This week, a delegation of the Russian-Turkish Business Council (RTBC) and Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu held a meeting led by Chairman Ahmet Palankoev discussing concrete measures aimed at expanding cooperation between Turkish and Russian businesses and boosting the countries' bilateral trade turnover.
The countries have been boosting cooperation for the last several years: in 2017, the bilateral trade turnover soared by 40.5% to $22.1 billion, while in 2018 it reached $25.5 billion. Speaking to journalists in Istanbul in November 2018, Russian President Vladimir Putin highlighted that he expected the Russo-Turkish trade volume to total $100 billion in the future. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the volume of trade exchanges between the two countries increased by $81.6 million in February 2020 compared to the same month in 2019, according to the Turkish Ministry of Trade.
Russo-Turkish Cooperation to Thrive Despite COVID
"Turkish-Russian cooperation is important not only for our two countries, but for the whole world", says Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu. "Istanbul has a strategic importance in the context of cooperation between the two friendly countries".
Previously, the mayor held a series of meetings with Andrey Buravov, consul general of the Russian Federation in Istanbul, discussing Russia's potential business projects with Istanbul businesses.
"The summit with Chairman of the Russian-Turkish Business Council Akhmet Palankoev and his delegation turned out to be very productive in terms of potential cooperation between the two sides in the future", the Turkish official admits. "I was very pleased with our meeting".
When asked which initiatives proposed by the Russian side are regarded as a priority for the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality (IMM), Imamoglu highlights that they are "open to any ideas, proposals and cooperation that will contribute to the development" of the city.
"At the meeting with the Russian-Turkish Business Council, we discussed the issues of culture, sports, tourism, water management, transport communications, security and car parking", the mayor elaborates. "We agreed that we will send proposals of the Business Council on cooperation to our authorised colleagues from the relevant departments, thus, the meetings will continue with the participation of competent specialists".
Imamoglu also touches upon the plans for joint activities of the Istanbul Mayor's Office and the Russian side. One of the major topics of the summit was the issue of stepping up bilateral trade turnover between the countries. Commenting on this, the mayor emphasises the importance of an initiative envisaging the creation of virtual exhibition platforms: "This will facilitate sustainable trading amid the pandemic", he opines.
The idea of establishing online platforms for mutual B2B projects was addressed by Russian and Turkish officials even before the pandemic: "We are creating an online platform now to improve trade relations between Russian and Turkish companies. There will be the online B2B platform we agreed to develop", Palankoev told journalists in late July 2019.
In order to give a boost to entrepreneurship, the Turkish side has created the Istanbul Investment Agency, a structure "founded within the body of IMM for promoting Istanbul and for directing the potential investors towards Istanbul’s strategic and primary investment areas", according to the mayor.
"In addition, we can develop cooperation in the field of the use of modern technologies in priority areas for Istanbul, namely infrastructure, transport links and environmental protection", Imamoglu points out. "When it comes to potential cooperation in the field of culture and art, I am sure that it is necessary to evaluate and support any opportunity we have".
The mayor summed up that the delegation of the Russian-Turkish Business Council presented projects covering a vast number of areas. The process of developing specific projects will continue through substantive meetings with representatives of the departments of the Istanbul Municipality, Imamoglu concludes.