Turkey and Gulf states to launch talks for free trade pact

By Thomson Reuters Mar 21, 2024 | 5:50 AM

ANKARA (Reuters) – Turkey and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) have signed a deal to launch negotiations for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA), Turkish Trade Minister Omer Bolat said on Thursday, as Ankara steps up efforts to expand economic ties with the region.

After years of tension, Turkey launched a diplomatic charm offensive in 2020 to mend ties with Gulf countries, namely the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia.

Since then, it has signed deals worth billions with Gulf nations, including Qatar, with which it enjoys strong ties.

“The agreement will liberalize trade in goods and services, facilitate investments and trade, and increase our country’s trade with the region,” Bolat said on social media platform X.

Ankara believed the talks would be completed as soon as possible, he added, saying the pact would lead to one of the world’s largest free trade areas, between Turkey and members of the GCC, with a total value of $2.4 trillion.

The GCC groups Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, and Bahrain.

As ties have improved, Gulf Arab nations are looking to Turkey for help developing local industries and technology transfer in their ambitious effort to diversify their economies away from oil.

Last week, Turkey and Britain said they would launch talks on an expanded FTA to include goods and services in the deal.

(Reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)