‘Suspending deal will harm Syrians’

‘Suspending deal will harm Syrians’

‘Suspending deal will harm Syrians’

Economy Minister Zafer Çağlayan says in a statement that Turkey invites the Syrian government to ‘adhere to common sense in the name of its own people.’ AA Photo

Syria’s suspension of a free trade agreement will inflict only a minimal damage to the Turkish economy, but will seriously deepen Syria’s own economic problems, Economy Minister Zafer Çağlayan warned.

“We invite the Syrian administration to adhere to common sense in the name of its own people,” Çağlayan said in a written statement yesterday. Following Western sanctions on Damascus, Turkey had become a main source for intermediate goods for the Syrian economy and the suspension of the agreement will lead to an increase in prices in Syria, he said.

Syria announced suspension of the free trade agreement with Turkey by Dec. 1, but Damascus has not given notice to Ankara yet, the minister said. “This decision is punishment by Syrian administration and those impacted by the move are their people,” Çağlayan noted.

Despite Syrian administration’s decision, Turkey with its state, businessmen, exporters and citizens would continue standing by Syrian people and support them, Çağlayan said.

Turkey has a trade surplus with Syria, exporting goods worth a total of $1.8 billion to its neighbor in 2010. While imports from Syria were $663 million, accounting for only 0.3 percent of Turkey’s total imports, Çağlayan said. However, 10.6 percent of Syria’s total imports are from Turkey, he added.

Syria last week announced unilateral suspension of the 2004 trade pact after Turkey, one of Syria’s closest economic partners, followed in the footsteps of the Arab League in announcing a series of sanctions on the Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad due to its bloody crackdown on anti-regime protesters that has claimed more than 4,000 lives according to the UN.

Yet, Turkey’s package of economic measures against Syrian did not include trade from people to people in order to abstain from harming ordinary Syrian people.

Meanwhile, Turkey was working on a new incentive system to boost foreign investments, Çağlayan said while speaking at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Istanbul yesterday.

“I hope that Turkey will have the best investment incentive system in the world with the initiatives we will have completed by the end of this year,” Çağlayan said. The new system would cover supporting investments in production of goods, which are not produced in Turkey currently and imports of which cause a widening in the country’s current account deficit, Çağlayan said, without elaborating.