Turkish Economy Minister Pushing for US Free Trade

In attendance at a meeting of Turkey’s top private sector representatives and Turkish-American business organization executives regarding a Turkey-US free trade deal, Turkish economy minister Zafer Caglayan said that the proposed Transatlantic Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA) could severely hinder Turkish trade with the US if it is implemented with the EU without accompanying deals with Turkey.

Right now Turkey is the fastest growing economy in the EU, so from the EU point of view it would probably help if it could get one over on Turkey in this respect. From the Turkish side its trade deficit continues to be one of its remaining obstacle hurdles so it needs to keep pressure on it with any free trade deals it can secure independtly and making sure no deals are done which severely hinder its competitiveness in the region and the world.

From the other side Caglayan also stressed a need for an EU/US equivalent to the customs union agreement binding between Turkey and the EU, lest Turkey be left "out in the cold" facing unfair competition against products entering Turkey with very low customs taxes and Turkish products facing high customs taxes abroad.

Caglayan added that the problem stemming from Turkey’s conditions in the Customs Union Agreement with the EU was a historic mistake for which Turkey has been paying for the past 18 years.

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