Turkey, Ethiopia to sign FTA, eyes $20 bln exports to Africa

Today’s Zaman | 11 March 2011, Friday

Turkey, Ethiopia to sign FTA, eyes $20 bln exports to Africa

TODAY’S ZAMAN WITH WIRES, İSTANBUL

Turkey will soon be launching talks with Ethiopia to sign a free trade agreement (FTA) with the eastern African nation, Turkish Foreign Trade Minister Zafer Çağlayan said on Wednesday.

Çağlayan, who is currently in Ethiopia to participate in bilateral talks with Ethiopian government officials, attended a dinner given by Turkey’s Ambassador to Ethiopia Kenan İpek on Wednesday. He noted that the talks with the Ethiopian officials were positive, adding that both countries agreed on signing a FTA to decrease custom difficulties. Çağlayan said Ethiopian businessmen showed enormous interest in bilateral business talks with Turkish businessmen. “There are many important business agreements signed between the two business groups. We hope to increase Turkey’s exports to Africa from $17 billion to $20 billion by the end of this year,” Çağlayan said. Turkey currently has FTAs with 13 nations as well as with members of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), a free trade organization of four non-EU member European states.

The Turkish foreign trade minister met with Ethiopian President Girma Wolde-Giorgis and Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and to discuss the problems of Turkish businessmen who have investments in the African country. Çağlayan also said the Ethiopian prime minister had asked Turkey to construct an industrial zone in the country and in return, Turkish companies could receive tax incentives and many forms of state support.

Çağlayan stated that Turkey’s Eximbank has provided a $100 million loan with a low interest rate to Ethiopia. “The loan will be used for exports and to finance investments in the country,” he said.

Turkey’s exports around $170 million to Ethiopia annually, while it imports up to $45 million. Africa’s total imports are around $560 billion, while Turkey’s yearly exports to the continent amount to approximately $10 billion.

The African country of 84.9 million people had an estimated nominal gross domestic product (GDP) of $30.60 billion, while the GDP per capita was around $360 in 2010.

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source: Today’s Zaman