Turkey to lose $5 billion annually if not included in transatlantic trade deal: Minister

Turkey to lose $5 billion annually if not included in transatlantic trade deal: Minister

WASHINGTON - Anadolu Agency
Turkey to lose $5 billion annually if not included in transatlantic trade deal: Minister

AA Photo

Turkey stands to lose roughly $5 billion per year in direct losses alone if it is not included in a final free trade agreement between the EU and the U.S., Turkey’s minister for EU Affairs said late on Feb. 5.

Minister Volkan Bozkır told a gathering at the German Marshall Fund in Washington that Turkey “cannot afford the damage that would be caused” to its economy if it was not included in the prospective deal.

The eighth round of negotiations on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) were set to conclude in Brussels on Feb. 6, with more than 200 negotiators representing the United States and the European Union attempting to broker a free trade agreement.

If successful, the TTIP negotiators have the potential to integrate two of the world’s largest economies.
Turkey has been a party to the Customs Union deal with the EU since 1995, allowing goods into its borders. However, Turkey is not a party to the TTIP talks as it is not an EU member.

Turkish officials argue that future free trade agreements signed by the EU with other countries, such as the U.S., would effectively open Turkey’s market to exports from these states, while effectively blocking Turkish exports from benefiting from tax advantages in those same states, if Ankara is not a party to free trade deals negotiated by the EU.

Bozkır said negotiations should continue, with an addition to the final TTIP agreement stating that it would also include Customs Union members.

“That’s what we’re trying to explain. If [such an addition] is not there then we can’t afford it, so we might have to think about some negative measures,” he said, also adding that Turkey seeks to upgrade its Customs Union agreement with the EU to include agriculture, services and public procurement.

Increasing economic ties could boost the trade volume between the neighbors to $300 billion from $150 billion, and could provide relief from any negative fallout from the U.S.-EU free trade agreement, he said.

“If we can manage to upgrade the Customs Union before the TTIP then we will have this article there so you won’t have any problems when signing the TTIP, but the question is: Who will be faster? Turkey and the EU, or the EU and the U.S.?” Bozkır said.

Meanwhile, touching on the Cyprus impasse, the minister described the continued partition of the divided island as a “shame.”

“Turkey is ready to resolve this problem. We will do whatever necessary,” he added.