The South Korean government said yesterday it is hoping to make new economic inroads in Turkey as their upgraded free trade agreement (FTA) comes into effect this week.
The new FTA, which goes beyond goods into the services and investment sectors, was actually agreed on in 2015, just two years after their original trade pact went into force. It was only confirmed last year just after President Moon Jae-in took office in the South, but Seoul revealed at the time that certain processes would have to be finalized.
Moon welcomed Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to Seoul in May, when a joint release stated that "the South Korea-Turkey free trade agreement has become an important foundation of mutually beneficial economic cooperation by ensuring balanced growth of trade between the two countries."
With the new deal starting today, South Korea's Trade Ministry is hoping there will be opportunities for South Korean firms in Turkey's movie and construction markets, according to local news agency Yonhap. Wholesale and retail trade, automotive, IT and electronics, mining, tourism and manufacturing industries stand as the most common areas where the 300 Korean companies that have investments in Turkey are currently operating. According to the data compiled from the South Korean Embassy in Ankara, the Foreign Economic Relations Board (DEİK) and the Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat), the total amount of the investments carried out by Korean companies in Turkey from 1980 to 2017 reached $2.63 billion. Korean firms made investments totaling approximately $1.73 billion only in the last five years, which corresponds to 66 percent of the total investments made in the 38 years.
The trade volume between the two countries, which stood at $6.5 billion in 2013, reached $7.2 billion last year, an increase of 9.8 percent. Turkey exported goods totaling around $584.1 million to South Korea last year, while its imports totaled $6.6 billion in the same period.
The number of Korean tourists who visited Turkey in 2017, the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the diplomatic relations between the two countries, stood at 120,622. The same figure was 106,904 a year before. The number of Koreans that visited Turkey in the first five months of this year reached 59,208.