US trade curbs with Turkey at odds with 'mutual objectives'

Turkish trade minister says Ankara will continue to work on increasing the volume of trade despite US decision.

    Washington says Turkey is 'sufficiently economically developed' that it no longer qualifies for the GSP [Reuters]
    Washington says Turkey is 'sufficiently economically developed' that it no longer qualifies for the GSP [Reuters]

    The United States's decision to end preferential trade with Turkey is at odds with the goal of raising trade volume between the two countries to $75bn, Turkish trade minister Ruhsar Pekcan said.

    Pekcan's comments on Tuesday came a day after the US trade chief's office announced that his country intended to scrap the preferential trade status granted to India and Turkey at President Donald Trump's orders.

    In a series of tweets on Tuesday, Pekcan said the decision to remove Turkey from the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) would also affect small- and medium-sized businesses in the US, and added that Turkey would continue to work on increasing the volume of trade between the two countries.

    "The value of US imports amounted to $20.9bn under its [US] GSP scheme in the first 11 months of 2018. With exports amounting to $1.74bn, Turkey was the fifth largest supplier to US with a share of 8.2 [percent]," she tweeted.

    "Unfortunately, this decision conflicts with our mutual objective of reaching a bilateral trade volume of $75bn that had been announced by both governments."

    US announcement

    The Office of the US Trade Representative said Washington "intends to terminate India's and Turkey's designations as beneficiary developing countries under the GSP programme because they no longer comply with the statutory eligibility criteria".

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    India has failed to provide assurance that it would allow required market access, while Turkey is "sufficiently economically developed" that it no longer qualifies, the statement said.

    It said Turkey, after being designated a GSP beneficiary in 1975, has demonstrated a "higher level of economic development", meaning it can be "graduated" from the programme.

    Under the GSP programme, "certain products" can enter the US duty-free if countries meet eligibility criteria including "providing the US with equitable and reasonable market access".

    The changes cannot take effect for at least 60 days following the notification of the US Congress as well as the countries affected - a process Trump began on Monday with letters to the speaker of the House of Representatives and the president of the Senate.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies