US wants Turkey to negotiate with EU to join Transatlantic trade pact

US wants Turkey to negotiate with EU to join Transatlantic trade pact

US wants Turkey to negotiate with EU to join Transatlantic trade pact

ICC head Harold McGraw (2nd R) answers reporters’ questions at the Turkish Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges (TOBB) building in Ankara.

The Unites States would prefer Turkey to join a U.S.-European Union trade pact by agreeing on a scheme with the latter, instead of signing a separate deal with Washington, the U.S. president’s adviser and head of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) has said.

Speaking during a press meeting held before an ICC board meeting held in Ankara March 6, Harold McGraw, who is also the financial chair of McGraw-Hill Companies that owns the credit rating agency Standard & Poor’s, answered reporters’ questions over Turkey’s role in a proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the U.S. and EU and Turkey’s economic outlook.

Saying both the EU and the U.S. were enthusiastic about the deal that would form a massive merchandise alliance, he said the negotiations could continue for at most 24 months but added that he hoped to achieve a result even earlier.

The two account for almost half of the world economy and more than a third of global trade, with the two-way trade in goods alone worth more than $2 billion a day.

Regarding Turkey’s role in such an agreement, McGraw said: “The situation depends on Turkey’s relationship with the EU. If Turkey becomes an EU member, it would automatically become a member of the TTIP as well.”

Turkey has been asking to join the process, not only to join the world’s biggest prospective trade alliance, but also to avoid the potential damage to the country because of its Customs Union agreement with the EU.

The free trade deals between the EU and third parties enable other countries’ goods to enter Turkish markets via Europe with zero duties, yet the decision to provide the same privileges to Turkey is up to the third party.

Ankara has supported a Turkey-U.S. free trade deal as an alternative formula in order to avoid Turkey’s exclusion from the TTIP agreement.

However, McGraw said March 6 that even if this were “possible,” the U.S. would prefer Turkey’s participation via Brussels.

“It [the U.S.-Turkey trade deal] could happen, but our focus is on the Transatlantic and Turkey’s inclusion into the partnership through the EU,” he said.

Touching on the tough time the Turkish economy has been experiencing in his remarks, McGraw dubbed the developments as “temporary,” downplaying the impact of political risks on long-term growth.