Pakistan seeks to boost trade ties with Turkey


Though the proposed Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA)between Pakistan and Turkey could not be signed during the last six years, despite tall claims made on both sides, the two countries, once again are going to discuss the issue on Saturday.
The proposed PTA, which is aimed to lead the two Islamic countries to a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) in order to strengthen bilateral trade, was not signed since it was suggested in 2004 that there was lack interest being shown by Turkey.
However, after fresh emphasis made by Pakistan during meetings held between the heads of states of both countries, technical experts are expected to discuss the issue on July 23rd 2011 in Islamabad to analyse possibilities for an early signing of the agreement.
Ministry of Commerce, according to sources, has also sought required feed back from the concerned departments and trade bodies to discuss the proposed agreement in the forth coming meeting.
However, talking to Pakistan Today, experts have said that as Turkey has shown little interest to sign the preferential agreement, an early conclusion of discussions is not expected. Pakistan is willing to negotiate and finalise the PTA as both nations have already agreed on the Framework Agreement on PTA in 2004. Turkey has been working on a delaying policy as 80 per cent of the tariff lines of Turkey were bound with the European Union (EU) customs union. In addition, Turkey could not agree to allow substantial concessions for the remaining 20 per cent tariff lines as it was a politically sensitive issue. However, Pakistan expressed its willingness for a bilateral PTA in the fourteenth session of the Pakistan-Turkey Joint Ministerial Commission (JMC) held in Istanbul. On the other hand, according to sources, Turkey has recently expressed its willingness to discuss opening up of its markets to India under FTA. The Turkish Trade Minister Zafer Caglayan had recently said that India and Turkey were exploring the possibility of FTA to boost bilateral trade and its existing two-way commerce of $3.14 billion could be enhanced through such an agreement.
Besides FTA issues, Pakistan and Turkey are seeking to double bilateral trade from $1 billion to $2 billion by 2012 and to address issues related to joint financial instruments and preferential treatment through special mechanisms by stepping up contact between their ministries. The current bilateral trade stands at a meager $740 million. Pakistan’s export to the foreign country has also increased by 50.35 per cent during the first six months of the financial year 2010-2011, as Islamabad exported goods worth $320.56 million during July to December 2010 compared to $213.2 million in the corresponding period of 2009.
Major developments made in the recently concluded talks between the two countries included an increase of flights and establishment of a 6,500km long rail link between Istanbul and Islamabad.
Pakistani exports to Turkey comprise of rice, sesame seeds, leather, textiles, fabrics, sports goods and medical equipment. While, Pakistan’s imports from Turkey primarily include machinery and parts, chemical elements and compounds, chemical materials, non-ferrous metals and coloring material etc.