‘Golden age’ ahead in Ukraine-Turkey ties?9 Kasım 2016
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L) welcomes Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko (R) as they review a Guard of Honour during an official welcoming ceremony in Ankara, on March 9, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / ADEM ALTAN
Bilateral trade between Turkey and Ukraine is still well off its pre-EuroMaidan Revolution mark of almost $7 billion, down to $4 billion, and negotiations for a free trade agreement are dragging on.
But there’s still hope of stronger ties if the trade agreement is signed when Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visits Ukraine next year. In fact, both countries hope to boost trade turnover to $20 billion by 2020.
“The negotiations weren’t moving as fast as we wanted,” Turkish Ambassador to Ukraine Yönet Can Tezel told the Kyiv Post in a recent interview.
In 2015, Turkey was the second largest importer of Ukrainian goods and fifth largest trading partner, despite the recent downturn after the revolution that drove President Viktor Yanukovych from power on Feb. 22, 2014.
Tezel said the agreement would boost Turkish investment in Ukraine. “We try to tell our Ukrainian colleagues to view the agreement as a sign of (Turkey’s) belief, its confidence in the Ukrainian economy,” he said.
Burak Pehlivan, chairman of the International Turkish Ukrainian Business Association, also emphasized the importance of signing the free trade agreement, but said one of the major barriers has been Ukraine’s position in the agricultural sector.
He said that the agricultural industry has been excluded from more than 30 free trade agreements signed by Turkey, while Ukraine wants agricultural goods to be part of the deal.
According to Pehlivan, the countries are currently negotiating over quotas of agricultural goods that fall within the scope of the deal.
Despite the slow pace of negotiations, Pehlivan said Ukraine and Turkey were currently in a “golden age” of economic and political relations.
With 600 Turkish companies working in Ukraine, Pehlivan said Turkey was much more likely to invest in Ukraine than Western countries
In May, Ankara and Kyiv signed off on a joint manufacturing agreement under which three aircraft models – two freight and one passenger – will be produced at Ukraine’s Antonov State Enterprise for Turkish use.
Another of the series of agreements signed in 2016 sees Turkey providing Ukraine with consultancy services on the safety of nuclear power plants.
This agreement would see Turkey provide training to nuclear plant employees, while Turkish students would have the opportunity to take up internships in Ukraine.
Most recently, Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine Oleksandr Turchynov announced plans to boost the defense partnership between the two countries.
Turchynov met with Ismail Demir, director of the Secretariat for Defense Industries of Turkey, in late October to discuss cooperation. Earlier in the year the parties signed a memorandum of cooperation.
“We’re working towards the implementation of specific projects: producing armored vehicles, rocket and missile engineering, aircraft engineering and others,” Turchynov said.
This follows a deal signed earlier in October between Ukrainian state company Ukrinmash and Turkey’s Havelsan Hava Elektronik Sanayi to jointly manufacture a passive radiolocation system. The system will be sold abroad.
While Ukraine has a small business footprint in Turkey, the country does receive a large influx of Ukrainian tourists.
Earlier in October, Halyna Vynarchyk, who heads the aviation department of Ukraine’s Infrastructure Ministry, announced that the countries had agreed to increase the number of flights between Istanbul and Ukrainian cities, adding 26 new flights to the 35 flights that are already operating. Kyiv-Ankara flights will be introduced as well.
Tezel said there is demand for the increase from both sides. “The number of tourists coming to Turkey has dropped, except for the tourists from one country – Ukraine,” he said, adding that their number has actually increased in 2016. n
“The number of tourists coming to Turkey has dropped, except for the tourists from one country – Ukraine,” he said, adding that their number has actually increased in 2016.
Photo by AFP