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Turkiye and Gulf states to launch talks for free trade agreement

March 21, 2024 at 5:55 pm

Turkish Trade Minister Omer Bolat. [Osmancan Gürdoğan – Anadolu Agency]

Turkiye and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) have signed a deal to launch negotiations for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA), Turkish Trade Minister Omer Bolat said on Thursday. The move comes as Ankara steps up efforts to expand economic ties with Gulf region, Reuters has reported.

After years of tension, Turkiye launched a diplomatic charm offensive in 2020 to mend ties with Gulf countries, namely the UAE and Saudi Arabia. Ankara already has a trade agreement, dubbed a comprehensive economic partnership agreement, with the UAE.

Since then, Ankara has signed deals worth billions with Gulf nations, including Qatar, with which it enjoys strong ties.

“The agreement will liberalise trade in goods and services, facilitate investments and trade, and increase our country’s trade with the region,” Bolat said on social media platform X.

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Ankara believes that the talks will be completed as soon as possible, he added, saying the pact would lead to one of the world’s largest free trade areas, between Turkiye and members of the GCC, with a total value of $2.4 trillion.

The GCC is made up of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman and Bahrain. Its Secretary General Jasem Al-Budaiwi said that the accord to launch FTA talks “is a demonstration of the robust and strategic partnership between the GCC countries and Turkiye.” He added that it showcased successful cooperation between the GCC and Turkiye across various fields, including commerce, economics and finance.

As ties have improved, Gulf Arab nations are looking to Turkiye for help developing local industries and technology transfer in their ambitious effort to diversify their economies away from oil and gas.

Last week, Turkiye and Britain said that they would launch talks on an expanded FTA to include goods and services in the deal.

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