Ankara, Washington agree on close contact over transatlantic deal
Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan (2R) and Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekçi (R) from Turkey and Commerce Ambassador Michael Froman (L) and Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker (2L) from the US shakes hands during a press statement in Washington, May 14. AA PhotoTurkey’s top economy officials have repeated Ankara’s strong desire to be included in the transatlantic free trade talks during a meeting with their American counterparts, where parties declared their commitment to work closer for better trade ties.
Turkey has been pressuring to join the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) scheme between the United States and the European Union, arguing the country’s Customs Union (CU) alliance with the latter would cause great damage to its economy if such deal is reached.
Top trade authorities of the U.S. and Turkey, Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan and Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekçi from Turkey and Commerce Ambassador Michael Froman and Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker from the U.S. met in Washington on May 14 amid continuing discussions of whether Turkey should sign a parallel deal with the U.S. or change the terms of the CU in efforts to protect Turkey’s interests.
“We hope, the format and shape of this [TTIP agreement] will be discussed within political and legal feasibility, but as Turkey, we want to be part of this big picture, this historical and strategic step,” Babacan said during a press meeting in Washington.
The officials held a press meeting after convening for the third meeting of the U.S.-Turkey Framework for Strategic Economic and Commercial Cooperation (FSECC).
When asked about the TTIP, Babacan said Turkey’s stance regarding the issue is clear.
“What we will do is keep tabs on the process and ensure Turkey will not be left out of the picture at the final stage,” he stated, noting Turkey is the only country with a CU alliance with the EU, which puts the country in a special position.
The Unites States has repeatedly mentioned that it would prefer Turkey to join a U.S.-European Union trade pact by agreeing on a scheme with the latter, instead of signing a separate deal with Washington.
However, Zeybekçi’s statement was confident that the U.S. would cooperate with Turkey to protect its interests.
“The main idea we received from the meetings here yesterday and today is that our partner and ally, the United States, we know they will not allow Turkey to be affected adversely from such thing [the TTIP],” Anadolu Agency reported him as saying. “We are here to generate a formula to prevent any such development.”
Zeybekçi elaborated, saying Washington and Ankara’s “deep friendship” will not allow Turkey to be excluded.
In their speeches, Froman and Pritzker also declared the parties’ joint decision of enhancing communication and collaborative work over the issue to prevent a breach of Turkey’s “legitimate interests,” as Froman said.
“I am pleased to announce that that committee has laid out a very robust program that will work over the next year on concrete steps to improve our trade and investment relationship and assess the impact on Turkey of U.S. negotiations with the European Union,” Froman said in his address to the press.
“We’re prepared to keep them informed and update them on a regular basis on negotiations and to ensure that, as the negotiations proceed, that we very much recognize their legitimate interests, and the minister and I will both monitor this process closely and personally,” he emphasized.
Pritzker also said the countries will follow a roadmap suggested by the U.S.-Turkey Business Council that was established to seek further cooperation opportunities between parties.
“Overall, the four of us realize that the long-term economic goals for both of our countries are increasingly intertwined – and we must continue to support each other in order to achieve those goals,” she stated.