Turkey and India to Sign Free-Trade Agreement

Turkey and India have agreed to sign a free-trade agreement to boost mutual investments, State Minister Mehmet Aydın said after a Turkish-Indian Business Council Meeting in Ankara on Tuesday. Turkey is seeking a free-trade agreement with India to boost mutual investments in the construction, energy and housing sectors, Aydın said at the meeting, which he co-chaired with Indian Trade and Industry Minister Amand Sharma. Bilateral trade volume between the two countries has increased from $1.8 to $3 billion over the last few years and officials are aiming for that to reach $5 billion, Aydın said. According to Sharma, it was a fruitful meeting in which participants reviewed the sectors most conducive to cooperation. Suggesting that a joint working committee be established, he said that Indian businessmen were interested in Turkey’s IT, energy, textile and automotive sectors. Comparing official figures in 2008 with those of previous years, the bilateral trade volume increased 14 percent and Turkish exports to India jumped by 56 percent, reaching $543 million. Poppy seeds, marble, travertine, iron, steel and vehicles are the main Turkish exports, while India sells artificial fibers, chemicals, automotive products and cotton to Turkey. Within the scope of yesterday’s talks, both sides expressed the need for a free-trade agreement to significantly increase bilateral trade. Foreign Trade Minister Zafer Çağlayan and Sharma discussed the details of a planned joint working committee to prepare a free-trade agreement. The initial idea to ink such an agreement between the two countries came last year when Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan visited India, Çağlayan told reporters after his talks with Sharma. “We agreed on who will be assigned and when they will convene. The first meeting of the joint working committee will take place in October,” Çağlayan said, underscoring that the free-trade agreement, if signed, would make India a neighbor of Europe. Sharma confirmed that Erdoğan’s visit had paved the way for concrete steps and said his main goal in Ankara was to discuss details. In a move to encourage mutual investments, Sharma said they would especially support state-owned companies and added that Turkish and Indian firms would be provided with more incentives to take part in joint projects in third-party countries. Çağlayan also suggested that Sharma sign a cooperation protocol in the construction field, saying, “There is a $500 billion potential for building and subcontracting work in India in the next 10 years.” Turkish and Indian businessmen may jointly invest in construction projects in third countries if Turkish construction firms take over promising projects in India, Çağlayan said.

Turkey and India to Sign Free-Trade Agreement hurriyetdailynews.com hurriyetdailynews.com Tue, Sep 8, 2009