Turkey seeks to treble trade with Iran

September 18, 2010

Turkey aims to treble its trade with Iran in the next five years, the Turkish prime minister has told businessmen at a summit aimed at lowering tariffs between the two countries.

“Our bilateral trade ties have reached $10b. When we remove the barriers to trade between ourselves, when we complete our preferential trade agreement we can reach a bilateral trade volume of $30b in five years,” said Recep Tayyip Erdogan at Thursday’s summit.
Erdogan has cultivated warmer ties with Iran at a time when sanctions imposed by the UN – reinforced by unilateral measures from the U.S. and the European Union – have deterred many governments and companies from doing business with Tehran. The prime minister is pressing Iran to ease access for Turkish business.
Samet Inanir, an adviser at the trade relations board DEIK, said of the $30b trade target: “We should consider Turkey and Iran as if they were France and Germany.”
Turkey argues that sanctions are having no effect on Iran’s nuclear ambitions and diplomacy is the only way to sway Tehran.
Erdogan’s government is committed to implementing the latest round of UN sanctions against Tehran – which it opposed in the Security Council.
But Turkey will not enforce the more wide-ranging U.S. or EU measures. Turkish exports to Iran have risen in recent years, but Iranian sales of natural gas still accounted for 80 percent of the $10b of bilateral trade in 2008.
Many Turkish companies say that prohibitively high tariffs and barriers to investment are bigger obstacles to doing business in Iran than sanctions.
“I promise the obstacles to Turkish merchants will be lifted,” said Mohammad Reza Rahimi, Iran’s first vice-president.
(Source: ft.com)