Ambassadors from a number of European Union countries praised the trade relations between Turkey and the bloc.
A meeting was organized by the Turkish Independent Industrialists and Businessmen's Association (MÜSİAD) and the Turkish National Agency in Ankara yesterday, during which trade and investment issues in Turkey-EU relations were discussed.
The meeting was attended by Foreign Deputy Minister Faruk Kaymakçı, EU Education and Youth Programes Director İlker Astarcı and MÜSİAD International Relations Commission Chairman Zeki Güvercin, as well as a number of ambassadors and trade attaches from EU countries.
In his address, Kaymakçı, pointing to the protectionist and unilateral policies in the world, particularly in the U.S., said Turkey and the EU must join hands on this issue. "These challenges must be confronted together, joint measures should be taken to prevent these restrictive measures," he said.
Investment and trade play important roles in Turkey-EU relations, Kaymakçı said, adding that two-thirds of foreign trade is being carried out with EU countries. Turkey has been one of the largest trade partners of the EU with exports worth $84 billion and imports of up to $80 billion in 2018 alone.
The deputy foreign minister further noted that Turkey's exports to EU countries increased fivefold and its imports increased three and a half fold since the customs union agreement was inked back in 1966.
Turkey is the only non-EU country that has had a customs union agreement with the bloc.
"We have an incredible trade volume. The current customs union agreement is not sufficient in this context," Kaymakçı remarked. He said the modernization of the agreement has been "politically blocked," noting that Turkey has taken steps since August 2018 within the scope of the reform process and that they hoped steps related to the update would be taken by the union.
The modernization of the customs union between Turkey and the EU has been on both parties' agenda for more than two years now. Although they have expressed the will to take steps to update the agreement, as it will be advantageous for both sides, no concrete development has so far been taken. Yet, efforts to maintain dialogue continue, with a particular insistence on the benefits it will yield for both sides.
In its Dec. 21, 2016 assessment, the EU Commission proposed modernizing the current deal, which only covers a limited range of industrial products and excludes agriculture, public procurement and services.
Romania's Ambassador to Ankara Gabriel Şopandă emphasized that the ties between Turke
y and the EU have developed and that "here as EU countries we hope to improve our relations in this regard."
On the other hand, France's Ambassador to Ankara Charles Fries said the EU needs Turkey regarding the regional issues, such as the fight against terrorism, migration and in Syria.
Turkey is a very important market for the EU, Fries stressed. He noted that a very strong relationship between Turkey and the EU needs to develop, pointing to the importance of trade, transportation and energy.
Fries said he finds Turkey's EU re-engagement valuable, adding that they also expect some concrete actions.
Britain's Ambassador to Ankara Dominick Chilcott stressed, "We need Turkey's stability and success for our stability and success." He also pointed out that joint ventures between British and Turkish companies should be encouraged.
The vice president of the EU Turkey Delegation, Gabriel Munuera Vinals, pointed to the close economic ties between Turkey and the EU, emphasizing that the two economies must stand together in the trade and industry sectors. Vinals expressed his satisfaction that the bilateral relations have made a significant progress.
Moreover, Sweden's Ambassador to Ankara Annika Molin Hellgren, Slovenia's Ambassador to Ankara Igor Jukic, Lithuania's Ambassador to Ankara Audrius Bruzga and Czechia's Ambassador to Ankara Pavel Kafka also attended the meeting and evaluated the trade relations between Turkey and the EU.