US Congress to discuss free trade talks with Turkey

December 14, 2010, Tuesday/ 16:53:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN

Three members of the US Congress -- William Delahunt, Jim Moran and James Sensenbrenner – have submitted a resolution to the Committee on Ways and Means of the US House of Representatives to initiate negotiations to enter into a bilateral free trade agreement with Turkey.

The resolution, which was presented to the committee on Dec. 1, intended the establishment of the same type of free trade agreement as the US has with Israel and Jordan in which goods manufactured in Turkey will be able to sold on the US market without being subject to any duty or tariff barriers. Conversely, US producers will also have the same rights in Turkish markets. The opportunity will provide Turkey with more advantages as foreign companies that want to sell their products on the American market free of charge will rush to invest in the country.

The congressmen’s resolution asserted that the setting up of a free trade agreement with Turkey was necessary on many accounts. For instance, Turkey’s economy ranks the 17th in the world in terms of size and that it is a founding member of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and a member of the G-20.

Recalling that Turkey has signed 16 free trade agreements with various countries and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) -- 14 of which are currently in effect and the remaining two pending approval -- the resolution also pointed to the ongoing talks with Canada, Lebanon, South Africa and Mexico among several other countries.

It said the US has only a 6.09 percent share of Turkey’s imports, indicating that a free trade agreement would boost this figure in favor of US businesses.

According to the Turkish news portal Turkavenue, the resolution owed much to the lobbying activities of the Turkish Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges (TOBB) and Turkish businessman Mustafa Merç, the general manager of the Turkon Line, which has a large share of marine transportation between the US and Turkey.

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