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SA rejects Turkey’s proposal for a free trade agreement

Business Day | 2011/11/10

SA rejects Turkey’s proposal for a free trade agreement

Government says an agreement of such a nature would encourage "destructive competition that will undermine our industrial and employment objectives"

LINDA ENSOR

SA has rejected Turkey’s proposal for a free trade agreement between the two countries saying that this would encourage "destructive competition that will undermine our industrial and employment objectives".

Addressing the media following this week’s cabinet briefing, government spokesman Jimmy Manyi said cabinet had however decided that SA would seek a "mutually beneficial, cooperative and balanced approach to building trade and investment relations with Turkey".

The cabinet statement noted that Turkey was an increasingly important partner in the global economy and that both Turkey and SA, as emerging economies, had similar challenges and trajectories for economic growth and development.

Currently, trade and investment between SA and Turkey was relatively low but offered scope for growth. Two-way trade between SA and Turkey fell to $1,2bn last year from a peak of $2,7bn in 2008, due to the tough global economic conditions. Mr Manyi said SA believed it would be better for the two countries to seek a collaboration that built on the complementaries of their economies and their trade and investment links.

"A free trade agreement does not allow for such a nuanced mutually beneficial approach to building economic relations and instead encourages destructive competition that will undermine our industrial and employment objectives," Mr Manyi said.

Last month Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan visited South Africa on a two-day official visit.

Mr Erdogan said SA fulfilled the role of a "strategic partner" in Africa. "The Republic of SA occupies a very important place and has a very strategic position and is a source of inspiration for this (African) region and the same could be said of Turkey within its context."

He said SA had serious potential, hence the signing of agreements on commercial and economic co-operation, the prevention of double taxation and one agreement on the protection of investments.

Mr Erdogan spoke fondly of the continent, describing it as an "eternal friend".

"If we work together we can succeed in many areas. We stand ready to share our experience we’ve acquired in attracting investments with friends," he said.

He said Turkey would increase its 24 embassies on the continent to 33 next year to strengthen bilateral trade with the region.

WITH LOYISO LANGENI

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 source: Business Day