Turkey lambasts US move to end special trade status

Published March 5, 2019
“This decision contradicts our mutual objective of reaching bilateral trade volume of $75 billion," says  Trade Minister Ruhsar Pekcan. — AFP/File
“This decision contradicts our mutual objective of reaching bilateral trade volume of $75 billion," says Trade Minister Ruhsar Pekcan. — AFP/File

Turkey's trade minister on Tuesday said US plans to end the preferential trade status granted to Turkey conflicted with the NATO allies' push to increase commercial exchanges.

“This decision contradicts our mutual objective of reaching bilateral trade volume of $75 billion... The decision will also negatively affect US small and medium-sized enterprises and manufacturers,” Ruhsar Pekcan said on Twitter.

“We still would like to pursue our target of increasing our bilateral trade with the US who we see as our strategic partner, without losing any momentum,” she said.

The United States Trade Representative's Office said on Monday that Washington intended to end “India's and Turkey's designations as beneficiary developing countries under the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) program.”

The office made the decision at US President Donald Trump's direction, saying that it was because the countries no longer complied with eligibility criteria.

Under the GSP programme, some products may enter the US duty-free if countries meet criteria which include offering the US “equitable” market access.

Turkey was made a GSP beneficiary in 1975 and the office said Turkey had shown a “higher level of economic development” meaning that it could be “graduated” from the programme.

Relations between the US and Turkey have been strained, especially following the 2016 failed coup and Washington's support for a Syrian Kurdish militia viewed by Ankara as a “terrorist offshoot” of Kurdish insurgents within its borders.

Last summer ties worsened over the detention of an American pastor, during which Trump doubled tariffs on Turkish steel and aluminium, and sanctioned two senior Turkish officials. Pastor Andrew Brunson was later released and relations improved.

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