By Tuba Sahin, Gokhan Ergocun
Turkey and Thailand on Wednesday signed a declaration in Ankara to start negotiations for a free trade agreement.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, Turkish Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci said that once the agreement becomes operational trade volume will double in three years.
"According to our impact analysis, exports of both countries to each other is projected to rise by 40 percent," Zeybekci said.
In its first phase the agreement would only cover goods’ trade, however it will gradually expand to other sectors.
Zeybekci noted that Turkey’s balance of trade with Thailand was unfavorable.
Turkey's exports to Thailand valued $164 million while its imports from the country stood at $1.5 billion in 2016, according to Turkish Statistical Institute.
Zeybekci said that Thailand would become an important trade partner for Turkey after the signing of the agreement.
"Turkey has signed free trade agreements or preferential trade agreements with most of its neighboring countries, besides the EU and the custom union. We aim to move this perspective to ASEAN and far east Asian countries," Zeybekci said.
Zeybekci stated that the first round of the negotiations, starting after the signing, will continue for two days.
Thai Commerce Minister Apiradi Tantraporn said a comprehensive free trade agreement will boost economic growth and create employment opportunities.
"We will first emphasize on trading goods where non-tariff and tariff barriers will be reduced, to facilitate trade and investment between the two countries," Tantraporn said.
She said that a twofold increase in trade volume proposed in the agreement was not a difficult target to achieve.