Turkey and EU set to sign MoU next week to upgrade Customs Union
CİHAN PhotoTurkish Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci and the EU commissioner for trade will sign a memorandum of understanding next week to draw framework of upgrading the Customs Union, EU Minister Volkan Bozkır has stated, noting that one provision in the accord will automatically make Turkey part of any free trade agreement deal that the EU signs with a third party.
Official talks with the European Commission for upgrading the Customs Union agreement will be launched as of January 2016, Bozkır told reporters on May 6. Turkey’s EU and economy ministries have been conducting important discussions with the Commission for the last 15 months, he added.
The existing Customs Union agreement lacks any provision preventing the automatic implementation in Turkey of any free trade agreement signed between the EU and a third party, meaning that Ankara is obliged to open its markets to exports from these states without any customs.
Turkey aims to expand the Customs Union to include agriculture, service sector and public procurement.
Talks about revising the Customs Union, which is now in its 20th year, have long been on the agenda.
Turkey has long been complaining that while it is obligated to align with EU legislation, it cannot participate in decision-making in areas related to the Customs Union. Another issue of concern relates to free trade agreements signed between EU and third countries.
The refusal of third countries to conclude free trade agreements with Turkey has worked to its disadvantage. The Turkish government is particularly worried about the prospect of exclusion from the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) currently being negotiated by the United States and the EU.
As the two sides have not been able to find common ground for a long time, some Turkish ministers have even threatened to remove Turkey from the Customs Union.