Turkey, France set 20 bln-euro trade goal despite diplomatic spat
Turkey and France have set a bilateral trade volume target of 20 billion euros ($24.7 billion) for the end of 2019, Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci said during an official visit to Paris on April 10, state-run Anadolu Agency reported.
Zeybekci held bilateral meetings with his French counterpart Bruno Le Maire and Minister of State in the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne during the visit, held as part of the Turkey-France Joint Economic and Trade Commission (JETCO).
“We have set the target of raising our trade volume, which was 14.7 billion euros at the end of 2017, to 20 billion euros ($24.7 billion) by the end of 2019. We will all work toward this,” Zeybekci said.
He said issues regarding the Customs Union deal between Turkey and the EU were discussed during his meeting with Lemoyn.
“We know very well that France also supports the Customs Union. We are pleased that France agrees with us and our President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan,” Zeybekci said.
“It will take some time but we will see France’s support in EU meetings and during the process [of the Customs Union] in the coming months. We received a promise of that here,” he added, noting that talks would be followed up in June and in the autumn.
Despite not being a member of the EU, Turkey has been a member of the Customs Union agreement since 1995.
“We also spoke about Africa, Middle East regarding business opportunities and regarding trade and the economy,” Zeybekci said.
Turkey’s export to France stood at nearly $6.6 billion in 2017, while its imports from the country were more than $8 billion, according to Turkish Statistics Institute (TÜİK) data.
The country’s main exports groups consist of road vehicles, clothing and accessories, electrical machinery and devices to France, while it purchases aircraft, iron and steel products and automobile spare parts from France.
Turkey-France in diplomatic spat over Syria, Kurdish groups
Turkey has firmly rejected French President Emmanuel Macron’s bid to mediate between the Turkish government and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) while calling on Paris to take a clear stance against all of forms of terror.
“Turkey’s position on the PKK/PYD/YPG [outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party/Democratic Union Party/People’s Protection Units], which seeks to legitimize itself as the SDF, is perfectly clear. We reject any efforts to promote ‘dialogue,’ ‘contact’ or ‘mediation’ between Turkey and those terrorist organizations,” İbrahim Kalın, spokesman for President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said through his Twitter account early on March 30.
Turkey has been fighting against the PYD and its armed wing, the YPG, in the northwestern Syria enclave of Afrin, as it considers them the Syrian offshoot of the PKK.
Kalın’s statement followed a meeting between Macron and a Syrian Kurdish delegation allegedly representing the SDF at the Elysée on March 29.
A statement issued by the Elysée after the talks underlined the continued support of the French government to the Syrian Kurdish groups that have been fighting against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). It also suggested Paris’ intention to create an environment of dialogue between the Turkish government and the SDF.
“Instead of taking steps, which could be construed as legitimizing terrorist organizations, the countries we consider friends and allies must take a clear stand against all forms of terrorism. The various names and disguises cannot hide the true identity of the terrorist organization,” Kalın replied to the Elysée.
In the meantime, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu spoke with his French counterpart Jean Yves Le Drian over the phone following Macron’s meeting with the representatives of the Syrian Kurdish groups.
France has been gradually augmenting its opposition against the Turkish military’s operation into Afrin with calls on Ankara to limit its scope and duration.