Turkey and Gulf states to launch talks for free trade pact

Credit: REUTERS/UAE PRESIDENTIAL COURT

Adds GCC statement in paragraph 7-8, details

ANKARA, March 21 (Reuters) - Turkey and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) have signed a deal to launch negotiations for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA), Turkish Trade Minister Omer Bolat said on Thursday, as Ankara steps up efforts to expand economic ties with the region.

After years of tension, Turkey launched a diplomatic charm offensive in 2020 to mend ties with Gulf countries, namely the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia. Ankara already has a trade agreement, dubbed a comprehensive economic partnership agreement, with the UAE.

Since then, Ankara has signed deals worth billions with Gulf nations, including Qatar, with which it enjoys strong ties.

"The agreement will liberalize trade in goods and services, facilitate investments and trade, and increase our country's trade with the region," Bolat said on social media platform X.

Ankara believed the talks would be completed as soon as possible, he added, saying the pact would lead to one of the world's largest free trade areas, between Turkey and members of the GCC, with a total value of $2.4 trillion.

The GCC groups Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, and Bahrain.

In a statement, GCC Secretary General Jasem al-Budaiwi said the accord to launch FTA talks "is a demonstration of the robust and strategic partnership between the GCC countries and Turkey."

He said it showcased successful cooperation between the GCC and Turkey across various fields, including commerce, economics, and finance.

As ties have improved, Gulf Arab nations are looking to Turkey for help developing local industries and technology transfer in their ambitious effort to diversify their economies away from oil.

Last week, Turkey and Britain said they would launch talks on an expanded FTA to include goods and services in the deal.

(Reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu and Alexander Cornwell; Editing by Clarence Fernandez, Ece Toksabay and Sharon Singleton)

((tuvan.gumrukcu@tr.com; @tuvangumrukcu; Reuters Messaging: tuvan.gumrukcu.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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