World Bulletin/News Desk
Turkey may have to freeze its customs union agreement with the EU if it is left out of a proposed EU-U.S. trade deal, Turkey's EU minister has said.
Volkan Bozkir's comments came at a meeting with Turkish journalists in the Norwegian capital on Wednesday, where he arrived the previous day for a three-day visit.
The EU-US trade deal, which is officially known as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership Agreement, is a proposed free trade agreement which is still in the negotiation phase.
Turkey is concerned about the agreement since it has no say in the ongoing negotiations between the EU and the U.S., but would have to abide by its terms and conditions because of its Customs Union with the EU.
Norway, which is also a non-EU state but a member of the European Free Trade Association, could face the same problems, Bozkir said. He added that the two countries discussed how they could cooperate to avoid such problems.
"Turkey is the only country which signed the Customs Union Agreement without being a member of the EU," Bozkir said, adding that the current trade volume between Turkey and the EU amounted to €150 billion, and 45% of this volume was based on exports.
"Therefore, any trade agreement signed between the bloc and third-parties would damage the Turkish economy due to the fact that Turkey would have to go and sign a free trade agreement with those countries," he stressed.
The minister said that if the proposed EU-US trade deal is signed, and Turkey is left out, the economy would suffer considerably.
"The only solution would be to include an article in the agreement so that Turkey automatically becomes a party to it. Unless this happens, the economic impact will be massive," he said.
"And I don't want this to be considered a threat or blackmail, but in that case, Turkey would have to freeze the customs union agreement or prevent the U.S. from benefitting from the free trade deal," he added.
Turkish officials argue that future free trade agreements signed by the EU with other countries, such as the U.S., would effectively open Turkey’s market to exports from these states because Ankara is a signatory of the Customs Union Agreement.
But, at the same time, it would also effectively block Turkish exports from benefiting from tax advantages in those same states, should Ankara not be a party to the free trade deals negotiated by the EU.
The Customs Union Agreement with the EU, which was signed in 1995, has come under criticism as of late in Turkey as advantages acquired over the last 19 years have slowly been eroded.
Turkey has been main route for refugees trying to cross into Europe
Deadly attack on Sunday in capital Kabul killed 7 people
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu calls on US to take action against Turkey’s coup plotters
Turkey's justice minister says state of emergency to be lifted in few days
Security forces carried out 1,950 counter-terrorism raids from July 9-16, says Interior Ministry
Unemployment rate in April records annual decline of 0.9 percentage points, according to TurkStat
Mustafa Ndiaye, a Senegalese student in Turkey, has embarked on a tour of the country to change the image of Africa in the minds of Turkish people.
July 15 martyrs commemorated in various ceremonies worldwide
On July 15, 2016, mosques prayed for national unity overnight to give Turkish people morale to stand against coup bid
President Erdogan visits July 15 Martyrs' Monument near the July 15 Martyrs Bridge
Over 100 Turkish lawmakers were inside parliament when it was bombed 3 times during 2016 defeated coup
FETO orchestrated a defeated coup on July 15, 2016, which left 251 people martyred and nearly 2,200 injured
Salt Lake turns red due to seasonal rise in algae, which also attracts flocks of hungry flamingos
Events marking 2016 defeated coup attempt will be held throughout the day, says Binali Yildirim
Terrorist reportedly responsible for death of teenager last year, says Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu