Turkey eyes to cut trade gap with Asian giants

Turkey eyes to cut trade gap with Asian giants

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Turkey eyes to cut trade gap with Asian giants

Shoppers walk at a supermarket of Aeon June 18. Aeon, Japan’s No.2 general retailer, started to purchase goods from Turkey helping the country’s exports to Japan. REUTERS photo

Turkish Economy Minister Çağlayan left yesterday for a landmark visit to Japan, where he will sign a memorandum of understanding on economic cooperation, a first step to a free trade agreement with the Asian trade powerhouse.

The move comes as Turkey is set to finalize a free trade deal with South Korea next month, and is in a push to decrease its large trade deficit with East Asian countries, including China.

The memorandum will pave the way to the establishment of a ministerial-level platform, which will discuss economic and commercial issues between the two countries. The two countries will set up a “joint working group” to evaluate the consequences of a free trade agreement between Turkey and Japan.

“We will meet with [representatives of] various firms from various sectors. We see Japanese firms increasingly taking an interest in Turkey,” Çağlayan said, speaking at a press meeting regarding an investment in Turkey.

The Turkish trade deficit with Japan is significant, Çağlayan said. “In fact [Turkey records a large] trade deficit with [a number of] East Asian and Asia-Pacific countries, particularly China, Japan and South Korea. Turkey’s exports to Japan are about one eleventh or one twelfth of their imports from this country,” he said.

Çağlayan will meet with Japanese Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba and Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Yukio Edano, as well as the chief executives of prominent Japanese companies including Daiichi, Mitsui, Mitsubishi and Aeon.

Exports to Japan

“Aeon purchases $50 billion in goods, from textiles to furniture to fruits and vegetables,” Çağlayan said. Turkey’s exports to Japan increased by 20 percent, reaching $136 million in the first five months of the year, especially thanks to Aeon’s procurements in Turkey, according to the Turkey’s Exports Assembly data.

Responding to a Daily News question regarding Turkey’s plans to build a second nuclear power plant, Çağlayan said “the game” goes on. “Studies regarding the nuclear power plant continue. Our door is open to everyone. We will meet with [Japanese] firms to discuss this issue.”

Turkey has signed a deal with the Russian state-run Rosatom to build its first nuclear power plant in the southern province of Mersin. The Turkish Energy Ministry has also been talking with South Korea, China and Canada about building the country’s second nuclear power plant.