Khaleej Times - 18/05/2006
Free trade talks between GCC and Turkey to begin this year
DUBAI - Free Trade Agreement (FTA) talks between the GCC and Turkey will start this year, according to a senior Turkish government official.
Harun Kocak, Commercial AttachÈ at Consulate-General of the Republic of Turkey in Dubai, told Khaleej Times yesterday that while the FTA negotiations were scheduled to start this year, the actual signing of the agreement would most probably take place by the time GCC countries adopt the common currency.
"We expect to sign it as soon as possible because it will give us more opportunities to enter the GCC market. There is a great potential for the bilateral trade, especially with the UAE," he explained.
According to Ihsan Yiicel, Consul General of Turkey in Dubai, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayip Erdogan has recently announced Turkey’s plan to boost its trade within the GCC significantly by increasing the volume in the UAE alone to about $6 billion.
After the implementation of this plan, Turkey will become the GCC’s doorway to the European market, as it is a candidate country with free trade access to the whole continent, he said.
Last year Turkish exports to the UAE amounted to $1.6 billion, while this year they are expected to exceed $2 billion, as there is a steady 40 per cent increase in export volumes every year.
Turkish exports to the UAE mainly consist of iron and steel, he said, adding that 70 per cent of the total of both commodities consumed in the UAE are of Turkish origin.
Also Turkish construction companies working in the UAE have undertaken $2 billion worth of contracts in Palm Island, Dubai Metro project, International City and various Dubai Municipality infrastructure projects.
Both Yiicel and Kocak spoke after the official launch of the "Made in Turkey" expo, which will take place between May 22 and 25 at Dubai International Exhibition Centre.
It will host solely Turkish companies that specialise in machinery and machinery equipment and building materials, the two key sectors where Turkey dominates the regional market.
According to the UAE Contractors Association, the expo, which will be featuring some 120 companies, will have considerable value for the region as there is a significant shortage in machinery and building materials with the current construction boom.