Ankara proposes free trade plans to Russia

Ankara proposes free trade plans to Russia

Ankara proposes free trade plans to Russia

Zeybekci and his Russian counterpart Ulyukayev pose for a photo with other ministers in Sydney. AA photo

Ankara has put forward a plan to form a free trade zone with the Customs Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan, the Russian economy minister reportedly said after holding talks with his Turkish counterpart, amid Turkey’s mounting frustration with the European Union over a similar scheme.

During the G-20 trade ministers meeting in Sydney, the Russian Economic Development Minister Alexei Ulyukayev said that the Turkish Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci had proposed in establishing a scheme that would lift trade barriers between the two parties, according to the Russian news agency RIA Novosti.

“We have discussed the possibility of cooperating [with one another], including the formation of a free trade zone between the Customs Union [Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan] and Turkey. We have agreed to create a working group and to begin a more detailed discussion of these possibilities and prospects in September [this year],” Ulyukayev reportedly said.

The Customs Union between Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan, was launched as a step towards forming an economic alliance between the former Soviet states.

Turkey has been expressing its frustration over its Customs Union alliance with European Union, arguing that the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) scheme between the U.S. and the EU would cause great damage to its economy if such a deal were to be reached.

Nevertheless, the U.S. has repeatedly mentioned that it would prefer if Turkey were to join a U.S.-EU trade pact by agreeing on a scheme with the latter.

The trade volume between Russia and Turkey amounted to $32.7 billion in 2013 with Russia now becoming Turkey’s second-largest trade partner after the European Union, while Turkey ranking eighth among Russia’s foreign trade partners. 

RIA Novosti also reported Zeybekci as proposing to renew talks on using national currencies in bilateral trade to curb dependence on the U.S. dollar.