Turkey Ready To Start FTA Talks With Malaysia, Says Envoy
By Nor Faridah Abd Rashid
26 April 2010
KUALA LUMPUR, April 26 (Bernama) — Turkey is ready to commence Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations with Malaysia after positive exploratory talks between the two countries early this year, Turkish ambassador to Malaysia Serap Ataay said.
At the moment, Turkey was waiting for the Malaysian side to conclude their impact studies and obtain government approval, she said.
"If this procedure is completed positively, the negotiations will commence," she told Bernama in an interview recently.
She noted that trade relations between the two countries were encouraging and had increased more than six-fold since 2000, reaching US$1.6 billion in 2008, with Malaysian exports making up US$1.5 billion of this figure.
However in 2009, due to the world economic and financial crises, total bilateral trade dwindled to US$1.1 billion, she said.
"To expand our trade, we are looking into the possibility of signing the FTA. At the moment, parties are making their impact studies," the envoy said.
According to the ambassador, Turkey is the gateway to Europe, Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia and Caucasia. It is the 15th largest economy in the world, with a population of 73 million and a gross domestic product of US$742 billion.
Turkey’s major export sectors to Malaysia are iron and steel, machinery and machinery parts, textile, processed food and chemicals while imports from Malaysia are mainly palm oil (30 per cent), electrical and electronics (25 per cent) and textile (20 per cent).
"We believe that none of these figures reflect the real potential between the two countries. Turkey can have a comparative advantage in iron and steel, food and beverage, construction and building materials, home textile, medical, automotive spare parts and marine sectors in Malaysia," she said.
Ataay said cooperation in the defence industry was also a significant supplement to bilateral trade, noting that 29 Turkish companies operating in the defence industry had participated in the Defence Services Asia (DSA) Exhibition at the Putra World Trade Centre from April 19 to 22.
The Turkish Government also organised trade events to promote Turkish sectors and products to the selected target markets. In 2009, 47 Malaysian companies with 71 representatives participated in five buying mission programmes to Turkey in medical, jewellery, metals and minerals technologies, automotive and food, beverage and food packaging industries.
The ambassador said this year, these programmes have been expanded to more sectors such as medical, fresh fruits and vegetables, construction and building materials, home textile, food, beverage and food packaging, metals and minerals technologies, iron, steel and foundry, non-ferrous technology and natural stone industries, the ambassador said.
In January, the Commercial Counsellor Office of Turkey organised a trade delegation to Malaysia led by the Undersecretariat for Foreign Trade and Central Anatolian Exporters’ Association.
The delegation comprising 23 Turkish manufacturers, exporter companies operating in the food sector met with 125 Malaysian manufacturers, importers and distributors. During the business matching session, more than 600 meetings were held.
"Increasing the number of trade delegations among the two countries will present an opportunity to diversify trade and help boost trade volume significantly," the ambassador said.
As for joint ventures between Turkish and Malaysian businessmen, Ataay said the Turkish-Malaysia Business Council could play a role in the establishment of joint ventures but it needed to be revived first.
"The co-president of the council from Malaysian side is vacant at present. After the appointment of the new Malaysian president, I expect that joint ventures will be one of their major agenda items," she said.
Describing a business council as a new form of economic co-operation, she said: "Business council is where business people can lead each other, it is smaller, more practical and useful. Prior to this there were joint economic commissions."
Asked on Turkey’s stance on the Organisation of the Islamic Conference’s (OIC) aim to achieve 20 per cent intra-trade growth among the 56 member countries by 2015 from 16.67 in 2008 and 14.5 per cent in 2004, Ataay said that in this context, Turkey was committed to the OIC target as stated in the OIC Ten-Year Programme of Action and appreciated efforts of Malaysia and Saudi Arabia towards this end.
Malaysia, Turkey and Saudi Arabia have been the driving force towards boosting intra-trade among OIC members from 2003 to 2007.