New EU-Turkey agreement to bolster relations and cement trade

An up-to-date customs deal between the EU and Turkey will boost trade between the two regions and will allow Turkey access to a new trade agreement with the US, resulting in huge economic gains for Turkey.

Turkey and the EU

Problem solving

The 20-year-old Customs Union Agreement between the EU and Turkey is set to be updated, confirming a new energy deal and including Turkey’s involvement in the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

Last week, Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci announced that the existing agreement had “systematic problems” and it was crucial these problems are remedied.

One of the problems Zeybekci was referring to is that although Turkey has long been expected to align with EU legislation, the country has been left in the cold when it comes to any decision-making pertaining to the Customs Union.

Zeybekci said that the current agreement, which came into force at the end of 1995, “is far from responding to the needs of today.”

He went on to say that the agreement was “unacceptable” in terms of unfair competition after the EU signed free trade agreements with third countries. “It is not something that is acceptable for Turkey. Turkey should be included in the scope of the new TTIP agreement."

Zeybekci says the review will involve looking at the Custom Review’s problematic parts, developing Turkey’s existing relations with the EU and developing reciprocal market access for services, public procurement and agricultural products.

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership

The TTIP is a proposed free trade agreement between the EU and the United States. Supporters claim the agreement will result in far-reaching economic growth. However, Turkey, who would indirectly benefit from the agreement with increased access to American goods, has long been concerned about exclusion from the agreement. 

In the past, Turkey has requested that the TTIP explicitly state that member states of the Customs Union would be included in the agreement, and even stated that if it is not involved in the TTIP it will cancel the Customs Union Agreement. Fortunately, this will not need to happen: during a visit to Brussels last week EU Affairs Minister and Chief Negotiator Volkan Bozkir announced that Turkey’s place within the TTIP is set in stone, with negotiations completed by the end of May.

The updated Customs Union Agreement will be ready in about a year’s time. The agreement will ensure Turkey’s place within the TTIP and will mean trade volume will increase to $300 billion.

New energy deal

As well as the Customs Union revision, a strategic energy agreement between the EU and Turkey has also been reached, thanks to the Trans Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline project (TANAP), which will turn Turkey into the leading supplier of natural gas to the EU.

Bozkir stressed that the signing of the deal cements Turkey’s strategic significance with the EU, and mentioned the country’s geographic position, placed as it is between Europe and the Middle East.

The deals engendered by the TANAP project are paving the way for future energy deals and increased co-operation between Turkey and the EU, who will hold meetings to make groundbreaking decisions over nuclear energy, renewable energy and energy resource control. 

Crucial factor

If Turkey is not included in the TTIP, the economic costs could be huge, reaching $20 billion and costing 95,000 jobs, a recent report said. 

Last year, Turkey’s exports to the EU reached $68.5 billion, and imports from the EU were almost $89 billion.

The current trade agreement between the US and the EU constitutes a third of global trade and is the greatest trade partnership in the world, generating 2 billion Euros each day. Formalising Turkey’s involvement in the new TTIP agreement will mean a new era of trade and business, further complementing Turkey’s robust economy.


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