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Ankara, Seoul to conclude free trade agreement

New Europe | February 19, 2012

Ankara, Seoul to conclude free trade agreement

South Korea’s President Lee Myung-bak recently paid a visit to Istanbul to boost economic co-operation and upgrading the traditional friendship between Turkey and South Korea, Zaman reported. During talks with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Lee agreed that both countries should conclude their talks on a free trade agreement (FTA). Turkish and South Korean business CEOs were also present at the meeting.

Lee called for closer economic ties with Turkey befitting the “brotherhood” relationship between the wartime allies, saying a free trade deal would be a good way to lift economic relations. “The peoples of the two countries consider each other a brother nation, but economic relations of the two countries are not balanced with those of brother countries,” Lee said.

Initially, FTA talks between Turkey and South Korea commenced in April 2010 with the latest round being held in March this year. Lee said that a breakthrough can be made in the negotiations if both governments make joint efforts through summit talks. The sides are nearing completion of agreement on their trade in goods but yet to sort differences over services and investment. However, both countries express hope that the agreement over services and investment can be concluded in the first half of this year.

At the meeting it was stated that South Korea recognises Turkey’s importance as a gateway to Europe, the Middle East and Central Asia. Lee said that South Korean companies are interested in making substantial investments in Turkey in nuclear power, construction, steel-making and electronic products sectors. South Korea’s exports to Turkey currently dominate the trade relationship amounting to some $3.75bn in 2010, with its imports from Turkey reaching only around $500m. However, Turkey hope that it’s agricultural and textiles exports would be able to benefit from any future agreement. Lee later attended a dinner reception hosted by Istanbul Governor Huseyin Avni Mutlu. He also met with Turkish President Gul at the Ankara summit to discuss trade expansion, infrastructure construction and other issues of co-operation.

Turkey and South Korea are also expected to agree on upgrading their ties to “strategic partnership.”

Meanwhile, South Korea’s Knowledge Economy Minister Hong Sukwoo, signed an agreement between Turkey and South Korea on the rehabilitation of a coal-powered plant in Turkey, together with Turkish Energy and Natural Resources Minister Taner Yildiz. South Korea is willing to undertake the construction of the nuclear power plant which is planned to be built in Turkey’s northern province of Sinop. Noting that energy sector had a big importance in the co-operation between the two countries, Hong said that South Korea was interested in the construction of the nuclear power plant in Sinop.

The Turkish energy minister said that Turkey and South Korea had previously exchanged views on nuclear power plant issue, adding that they would pursue talks on the topics they could not agree on within this month. Turkey has been engaged in talks with Japan since last year to build country’s second nuclear power plant in the Black Sea coastal province of Sinop in the north. However, the massive earthquake that hit Japan in March 2011 hampered the talks. Turkey is planning to build two nuclear power plants in the north and south of the country in the next decade.

 source: New Europe