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Turkey, EU Seeking to Broaden Trade Deal 13 mai 2015

Posted by Acturca in Economy / Economie, EU / UE, Turkey-EU / Turquie-UE, USA / Etats-Unis.
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The Wall Street Journal Europe (USA) May 13, 2015, p. 6

By Matthew Dalton and Emre Peker

Brussels – The European Union and Turkey agreed to expand their decades-old customs union, binding their economies closer even as Turkey’s long-standing bid to become an EU member remains in limbo.

The move comes as Brussels and Ankara seek to improve frayed diplomatic ties and expand areas of cooperation as they confront mutual challenges ranging from Islamic terrorism threats to economic headwinds.

Over the past year, Turkey and EU members have bolstered intelligence sharing and security ties to stem the flow of Western fighters to Islamic State and other extremist militant groups in Syria and Iraq. The agreement Tuesday aims to anchor their interests in trade, too.

However, the two sides didn’t resolve an issue that has become an increasing concern for Ankara: a potentially sweeping trade deal between the EU and the U.S. that Turkey fears could leave its exporters at a disadvantage.

Turkish Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci and Cecilia Malmstrom, the EU trade commissioner, announced a framework for broadening their own customs union, which eliminated tariffs on industrial goods and processed agricultural products.

Conceived as a prelude to Turkey joining the EU, it hasn’t been changed since 1995. Ankara and EU officials now will discuss extending it to include services, government contracting and most agricultural goods.

« What we aim is to have no restrictions whatsoever, » Mr. Zeybekci said during a news conference with Ms. Malmstrom.

Mr. Zeybekci also said the possible EU deal with the U.S. — known as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or TTIP — is too big for Turkey to ignore.

Turkey has long complained that the trade deals the EU signs with other countries don’t take Turkey into account. Over the past two years, Ankara has repeatedly threatened to quit the EU customs union if Turkey doesn’t become a party to the TTIP.

« If this is a unilateral opening for the EU vis-a-vis the U.S., then the situation is not sustainable, » he said.

But Ms. Malmstrom was noncommittal. « TTIP negotiations right now are taking place now between us and the U.S., » she said, adding that the EU will regularly update Turkey on their progress.

U.S. officials have also pledged to keep Turkey informed of the talks but have stopped short of offering Ankara a seat at the table.

The EU remains Turkey’s biggest export market, with almost $20 billion worth of sales in the first quarter of 2015. For the EU, Turkey is its sixth-largest market.

Exports to the EU had steadily dropped from 57% a decade ago to as low as 39% in 2012, as the Middle East and North Africa became fast-growing markets for Turkish businesses, making up for falling European demand during the global financial crisis. But the turmoil in Turkey’s conflict-riven neighborhood has hit sales to the region, and Turkish businesses are once again boosting exports to the EU.


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