Updating Customs Union deal with EU vital for Turkey: Minister Zeybekci

Updating Customs Union deal with EU vital for Turkey: Minister Zeybekci

Updating Customs Union deal with EU vital for Turkey: Minister Zeybekci

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Modernizing the existing Customs Union with its largest market, the European Union, is of great importance to Turkey, Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci has said, two days ahead of his visit to Brussels to discuss the issue with his European counterparts. 

“Turkey is at a key turning point right now in terms of its economic and trade ties. We have free-trade agreements with 23 countries and we will clinch five more deals by the end of this year. We have also been in talks to make more FTAs. The most important goal for us right now is to modernize our Customs Union deal with the EU,” Zeybekci said at an iftar fast-breaking meal dinner late on June 20. 

At the event hosted by the Foreign Economic Relations Board (DEİK) in Istanbul, he noted that the EU still takes the lion’s share in Turkey’s trade. 

“We made some 49 percent of our exports to the EU market. We received nearly 40 percent of our imports from the EU, which takes an almost 45 percent share in our foreign trade. We sell nearly 79 percent of our automotive output and 60 percent of textile outputs to this market, despite several disadvantages of the existing customs union deal,” Zeybekci said. 

‘Win-win’ for both sides

The economy minister said both sides agreed to update the deal and stressed that Turkey could “boost the EU’s growth.” 

“A delegation headed by me will be in Brussels this Friday to talk about the recent situation in our talks on the road to modernizing our deal. We aim to take key official steps in this regard over this year. The process is underway on the other side as well. The European Commission has asked for authorization unanimously to modernize the deal and to further extend the bilateral trade relations to areas such as services, public procurement and sustainable development from the European Council. The Commission’s proposal is currently being discussed in the Council,” he said, adding that the Commission would likely receive approval soon and the process was ongoing in the European Parliament as well. 

“It will be a win-win situation for both sides,” Zeybekci added. 

The Customs Union entered into force on Dec. 31, 1995. It covers all industrial goods but does not address agriculture (except processed agricultural products), services or public procurement right now. 

Zeybekci also stressed that a free-trade agreement with the U.K. would commence on the same day Brexit starts. 

Because Turkey has been the first country the U.K. has started negotiations with, he said the two countries would meet “on common ground.”