‘Leave politics aside, let’s focus on trade,’ minister calls on EU

‘Leave politics aside, let’s focus on trade,’ minister calls on EU

‘Leave politics aside, let’s focus on trade,’ minister calls on EU

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The current customs union agreement between Turkey and the European Union falls short of the needs of the businesses and needs to be upgraded in accordance with the new generation free trade agreements, the Turkish trade minister said on July 5.

“Right now, if we leave politics aside, just focusing on economy and trade, there is no reason in not doing this. Because EU businesspeople also need this,” Ruhsar Pekcan told state-run Anadolu Agency.

Speaking about her meetings with European ambassadors and trade chamber presidents, “Everyone meets on a common ground. The customs union agreement no longer meets demands,” she said.

“The new generation free trade agreements are very comprehensive. Since the EU has signed these with third countries, our customs union agreement has fallen behind those free trade agreements. They acknowledge that we have a point,” she added.

She attended several virtual fairs during the coronavirus pandemic period, Pekcan said, underlining that she also held talks with European officials on a regular basis.

China, the world’s biggest supplier, is not as attractive as it used to be for foreign investors because of rising wages, the trade minister said.

“Our duty is to improve the investment climate, to ease conditions and to be predictable. We take steps in this area and we invite investors to tell them about the incentives and opportunities we can provide them.”

The free trade zone within Atatürk Airport, which was closed to passenger flights after the mega Istanbul Airport was fully operational in April 2019, has been declared a specialized zone for informatics products, said Pekcan.

Talks with the United Kingdom to strike a free trade agreement that will be implemented after London leaves the EU single market at the end of this year are continuing positively, she also said.

The U.K. has signed free trade agreements with many nations, but Ankara is unable to sign one with London due to Turkey’s international commitments with the EU. Thus, the trade talks between the Turkish and British governments continue in parallel with the ongoing EU-U.K. negotiations.

Bilateral trade between Turkey and Britain soared over 60 percent in the last decade, reaching an annual volume of $16 billion. The U.K. is Turkey’s second-biggest export market and third-largest foreign direct investment partner.

More than 3,000 British companies have invested $2.9 billion in Turkey in the first half of 2019.

“It is vital our trade with the United Kingdom continues uninterruptedly to protect our competitive power against third countries and reach a target of $20 billion trade volume,” said Osman Okyay, the head of Turkey-U.K. Business Council, under the Foreign Economic Relations Board of Turkey (DEİK).