Turkey, Russia Agree to End Trade Dispute

ISTANBUL -- Turkey and Russia have resolved a trade spat that Ankara says has cost its exporters more than $1 billion in lost revenue, the state-run Anatolian news agency quoted a senior Turkish official as saying Friday.

Turkish exporters began suffering delays late last month at Russian border crossings after Ankara allowed two U.S. ships to pass through the Bosporus Strait to provide aid to Georgia after Moscow's military action there.

Soon after, Russia implemented the trade curbs, and Turkey retaliated by delaying Russian goods at border checkpoints.

"We have found a solution to the problem while protecting the rights of Turkish industrialists and traders," Deputy Prime Minister Hayati Yazici said, the agency reported.

The agreement, which is designed to simplify export procedures, will take measures to prevent mandatory physical searches of goods entering either of the countries. It was signed Thursday.

Representatives from the two countries will meet again within months, Yazici said, to discuss application of the deal.

Ankara has sought to boost trade with Moscow as it tackles a current account deficit that has been widening as energy costs increase.

Textile and clothing, which make up the bulk of exports to Russia, were Turkey's biggest foreign currency earner in 2007, bringing in $22.6 billion. Additionally, Turkish builders have invested billions in Russian construction projects.

(Reuters, Bloomberg)