Turkey supports the development of free trade around the world, Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci said yesterday.
"Turkey acts responsibly to support the improvement of global trade, and we put in great effort for the development of free trade between countries," Zeybekci told reporters in the capital Ankara.
He said Turkey has signed 24 free trade agreements (FTAs) and one preferential trade agreement, adding that Ankara is still in talks with some countries, including Mexico, Columbia and Peru, to sign deals.
His remarks came after Turkey and European Free Trade Association (EFTA) countries - namely Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland - signed an agreement on Monday to expand their FTA.
Zeybekci said the deal with EFTA countries, updated to modern day circumstances, is the "most comprehensive" FTA that Turkey has signed so far.
He added the updated deal will cover more areas such as services, electronics, tourism, health and transportation.
The minister said Turkey's bilateral trade volume with EFTA countries was $9.7 billion in 2017 and direct investment from EFTA to Turkey was $3.4 billion.
The FTA with the EFTA was signed before the customs union agreement with the European Union and was revised before the modernization of the customs union, Minister Zeybekci said.
The revised FTA is in its essence is a more modern and more expansive agreement than the current customs union.
The current FTA updated the rules of the trade of goods and instituted cooperation and advisory councils beyond the provisions of the World Trade Organization (WTO) regarding the instruments of trade protection from trade disputes.
Provisions for the facilitation of trade that simplify the customs processes and matters related to e-commerce have been included in the new revised FTA.
Cooperation provisions for facilitating technology transfer were included in one of Turkey's FTAs for the first time.
With the inclusion of rules and commitments on the service trade, a more predictable trading environment for service providers and investors will be created in the country. The first FTA, which covers trade in industrial products, fish and marine products, and processed agricultural products between Turkey and EFTA countries, was signed in 1991, according to the EFTA's website.