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Turkey nears free trade agreement with Japan

“Japan was the fourth-biggest food importer globally while Turkey was the largest food manufacturer in Europe and the seventh-largest globally. This was one of many trade opportunities which could be used for the benefit of both sides.”

TOKYO-Turkey is close to signing a free-trade agreement with Japan, Turkey’s Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci has said. Speaking at a press conference following his visit to Tokyo, Zeybekci said that the Turkish ministry’s top priority was to sign the extensive agreement as technical negotiations had been completed. Zeybekci said: “Technical negotiations were concluded and the framework settled. “Starting from December 1, we will start official negotiations. We aim to finish the negotiations at the end of 2015.” Pointing out that Japan was still struggling with the effects of the global economic crisis, Zeybekci said it needed to manufacture and export more as well as invest its funds in other countries, and Turkey offered great potential. He said: “Turkey is one of most important countries which can give this opportunity to Japan. “We believe this connection would be beneficial for both sides, as well as for other countries.” As an example, Zeybekci pointed out that Japan was the fourth-biggest food importer globally while Turkey was the largest food manufacturer in Europe and the seventh largest globally, saying this was one of many trade opportunities which could be used for the benefit of both sides. Zeybekci said: “We have corresponding problems. Turkey imposes limitations on some Japanese food products, and Japan has some limitations on Turkish products. “We will propose that Japan acknowledges the certifications and authorization of both countries … which would render extra audit and laboratory processes unnecessary.” “We plan to resolve difficulties in the export of food, vegetables and poultry meat by the end of 2014, and start trade in 2015,” he added. Turkey also believes the Japan-Turkey partnership promises great opportunities in tourism and the hosting of ageing Japanese people, thanks to more competitive costs, Zeybekci said. Noting trade volume between the two countries currently stands at $0.4 billion, Zeybekci said he hoped 2015 would be the first year in which exports to Japan pass the $1 billion threshold. Although Japan’s foreign trade volume was more than $1.7 trillion in 2012, Turkey’s trade volume with Japan peaked at only $3.9 billion. A total of 41.8% of Turkey’s exports to Japan consist of food and beverages. As the fourth-largest importer of food and beverages, Japan has been one of the most important markets for Turkey. Turkey’s main food and beverage items to Japan include fish fillets (mainly bluefin tuna), tomatoes, pasta, olive oil, dried fruits, nuts and tobacco. Experts said the trade agreement would help Turkey to narrow its $3.3 billion trade deficit gap with Japan, deepen economic relations, enrich investment and cooperation opportunities, and boost bilateral trade.

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