Singapore, Turkey to launch free-trade talks

Singapore, Turkey to launch free-trade talks

SINGAPORE - Agence France-Presse
Singapore, Turkey to launch free-trade talks

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (L) and Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong shake hands after their speeches at the Istana presidential palace in Singapore on January 9, 2014. AFP Photo

Turkey and Singapore agreed to kick-off free trade agreement talks and raising flight frequency between two countries during Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan’s visit to Southeast Asian country.

The Turkish leader arrived in Singapore Jan. 8 from Japan as part of a six-day Asian tour, as pressure mounted in Ankara over a probe that has ensnared his key allies and seen hundreds of police officers purged.

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong told journalists after talks with Erdoğan that they agreed “to begin negotiations on a comprehensive Turkey-Singapore free trade agreement”.

“We have instructed our respective economic and trade and industry ministers and they will be commencing negotiations,” he said.

Erdoğan, on his first official visit to Singapore, said the wealthy Southeast Asian city-state was “a very important partner in our orientation towards the Asia-Pacific region.”

He said there was potential for trade between the two countries to hit $3.0-5.0 billion annually, up from $1.2 billion in 2011.

“I do believe we can forge useful alliances and partnerships with Singapore, especially when it comes to the wide-scale infrastructure and energy investments going on in Turkey,” he said. “Turkey and Singapore are both strategically located and are gateways to opportunities in their respective regions.”

Singapore, heavily dependent on exports, has forged a series of free-trade agreements with major partners to ensure its economy will have long-term market access.

Both countries also sealed a memorandum of understanding on counter-terrorism cooperation Jan. 8. The two leaders did not field questions from reporters at the Istana government complex, and were quickly ushered away after reading separate statements.

During prime minister’s Tokyo visit, Turkey has reached an agreement with Japan as well to launch free trade talks within this year.